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Straight bananas: How Euromyths bend the truth

Life has become unbearable in the European Union, of late. Those mad Eurocrats are changing our lives forever and the result is a nightmarish...

Life has become unbearable in the European Union, of late. Those mad Eurocrats are changing our lives forever and the result is a nightmarish superstate of petty restrictions and rules ... at least that's what some people would have you believe. Kim Bielenberg reports

Did you hear that those tyrannical Euro-prats in Brussels want to ban the traditional Irish and British toilet?

Our favoured model of loo was invented by the legendary Thomas Crapper 130 years ago almost to the day. But now I am privy to information that the meddlesome continentals are scrapping Crapper's efficient invention, and replacing it with a Euro-Loo. We will be forced to use the notoriously unreliable French and Belgian WCs, according to the English newspaper The Express. Have they no shame, those Europeans?

Those wacky eurocrats have been making our lives hell for ages. We all know how the daft commission officials sitting behind their desks in Brussels suddenly issued a ban on curved bananas; how they stipulated that donkeys would have to wear nappies on beaches; how they forced fishermen to wear hairnets; and how they outlawed Valentine Cards.

Not only that. Now the officials want to harmonise the size of condoms across the EU, blatantly ignoring the different characteristics of the male organ in different countries ; and there are genuine fears that the Euro-condoms will not be big enough to house British and Irish assets. I read it in a British Sunday paper. So, it must be true.

And how do the European officials spend our money? I am shocked to read in the Daily Mail that the EU provides funds to farmers in ``Eire'' for the construction of special bunkers where IRA guns and explosives are stashed away.

But then it occurs to me that all these daft European regulations must not be very effective. If you go to your supermarket today, you may be quite surprised to find that there are still curved bananas. I have not seen a donkey wearing a nappy on an Irish beach. And, to my knowledge, nobody has been arrested by Gardai for sending a Valentine card.

There is a simple explanation for this lack of enforcement. The European Commission helpfully informs me that the rules are quite ineffective for the simple reason that they do not exist. They are figments of the imagination.

These bogus stories about the European Union are becoming part of our folklore. They are known in Brussels as Euromyths. A Euromyth is defined as a fictitious and entertaining tale about an EU restriction, usually spread in the British papers, but occasionally doing the rounds in the Irish media as well.

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The EU Commission now collects these yarns for re-publication. Its latest report on Euromyths includes the tales of the demise of the British toilet, the report about EU funding of IRA arms dumps and a false report that eurocrats want to slap a tax on TV addicts who tape their favourite soap operas off the telly.

The stories are usually heavily distorted versions of the truth, frequently put about by lobbyists with a commercial interest in stopping legislation. They are taken up gleefully by British newspapers and politicians wishing to portray the EU as a vast and tyrannical bungling bureaucracy.

The straight banana scare was the classic Euromyth, and was reported widely as fact, both here and in Britain. The Sun carried the banner headline on its front page: ``NOW THEY REALLY HAVE GONE BANANAS.'' The Gay Byrne radio show was so incensed by the barmy ban on bendy bananas that it sent a representative to Moore Street to interview puzzled fruit sellers.

A few years ago there was widespread uproar when it was reported that the Brussels busybodies planned to ban Irish red lemonade. How could the inconsiderate Euro-tyrants do this to do us? By the time EU officials had explained that they were simply restricting a particular dye that was carcinogenic, and not banning red lemonade, the story of the soft drink's imminent extinction was accepted as gospel truth. Somehow, red lemonade has survived

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