Tuesday 21 January 2020

Johnny Fallon: This campaign will be as much about septic tanks and household charges as fiscal stability

SO we are finally all set for a referendum on the fiscal compact treaty and all that goes with it. It is time to prepare ourselves because we are about to face an onslaught of views, opinions and arguments.

Get ready for the harbingers of doom, the accusations of lost independence and the promises of jobs and security. Our TV screens and radios will be overflowing with lawyers arguing over the minutiae of the details and its implications.

The printing companies will be thrilled with the poster contracts, every lamppost and telephone poll is set to become a battleground. Arguments will follow over who is funding what side and how much is being spent, how fair the coverage is and how balanced the media are.

We know, or at least we should know by now, that most of what is said in a referendum campaign can be taken with a pinch of salt.

Vote Yes for jobs? Remember that?

Those jobs are certainly taking their sweet time materialising. Of course there will be the banshee like wails about the loss of sovereignty and freedom and we will be told Ireland has sold its soul (again).

Yet life will continue for most of us afterwards and we won’t notice much different either way. Somehow I don’t believe that any of the young men or women who died in ditches fighting for Ireland’s independence were all that worried about where we would finally borrow from or whether we got money from a bond market or the ECB.

The government will be quickly out to calm all our fears, the treaty we will be told is nothing more than a bit of housekeeping. A safety net. Something that allows us borrow if we need it. Yeah right. That’s why it has taken many painstaking months to put it together. That’s why the words ‘Federal Europe’ is causing such a stir.

We still don’t even know who is really in control, the elected politicians from the countries or the drones sent by the troika and the ECB who are unelected and have about as much idea about how to run a society as Bertie Ahern had about keeping a tidy bank account.

But fear not the No side will be out in force too. his will be a treaty on everything from Austerity and household charges to sceptic tanks and your local hospital.

Whatever it takes to get you to vote No then that’s the argument on sale. Take your pick. The EU will be the great evil bringing abortion and neutrality to an end.

Just like they do every five years or so when we have to vote on some treaty or other.

In the end no matter which way we vote the sky will not fall in. The country will go on. I have said before that in my view a No vote is a major problem for the government as it can be taken as a rejection of the central plank of ‘austerity’ around which all government policy is founded. Enda Kenny has told us we will only get one shot at answering this question.

It is one that we should therefore consider carefully but I would not hold my breath if you are hoping that the oncoming campaign is going to be informative and helpful.



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