A landmark vote in the democratic cradle
The Greek people are being asked to vote next Sunday on the complex and harsh terms of the EU economic bailout. It is a vote without precedent in modern Europe. Irish voters have never been given such a direct and fundamental economic choice.
We have been asked to vote 35 times in referendums on constitutional change, many of which were extremely arcane. Many fundamental changes happened without a vote. In January 1999, for example, we abolished the national currency and joined the European Single Currency without a specific vote.
On that occasion, the Irish Government relied upon the 1992 vote on the EU Maastricht Treaty which, among other things, provided for the creation of the euro. The Maastricht vote had been sold to Irish voters as something which would lead to a huge influx of "Brussels billions" in regional and social fund grants over the following decade.