Saturday 18 November 2017

Marc Coleman: We may look like chumps but we should still vote Yes

The choice we face on the May 31 referendum is not between austerity or growth, writes Marc Coleman

From polar opposites, Eamon O Cuiv and Patrick Honohan last week provided us all with the chance to turn the fiscal referendum debate from a tawdry political squabble into what it should be: a serious debate.

At home and abroad the argument is hotting up. And the stakes are getting higher: despite rejecting their bailout on Sunday, Greek voters were rewarded for this with another €5.2bn in EU funding. For its failure, Spain may also be rewarded with a restructuring of its bailout. As if that wasn't enough, the nation that gave us the treaty, Germany, has now delayed its ratification. To some, it looks like Ireland is the chump nation of Europe.

But there is still a strong case for voting Yes. As he explained his travails with his party last week, Eamon O Cuiv compared himself to Desmond O'Malley. The comparison was a little flattering given that O'Malley broke with Fianna Fail in 1985 when Charles Haughey opposed plans to liberalise contraception. Asked if he was doing so to please more "progressive" opinion in Europe, O'Malley replied that he was not supporting the measure for the good of Europe but for the good of the Irish people.

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