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Austerity is not kinky fringe-sadism

• The No camp wants us to send a clear message to Europe and the world that we, the proud Irish, will only accept those bits of austerity which we like, (ie none). And that we will only play by already agreed rules which suit us and that austerity is only a nasty type of kinky fringe-sadism thought up by a bunch of crazy academics in the Chicago School of Economics.

Those of us who have actually experienced periods of personal or family financial leanness know only too well that when the household accounts are in the red, the debate over the kitchen table about austerity is not 'whether' but 'how' and 'how much'. Thousands of Irish families are in this situation right now. Yet, though we are where we are because of gambling on a mega-galactic scale, the No-Nos want us to gamble yet again on a bunch of 'nice-if-they-happen' but unverifiable -- and unbankable -- possibilities.

In the good old days, if you went to look for a mortgage or an overdraft, and said you were going to finance it by winning the sweepstake, digging up the pot of gold at the bottom of the garden or stumbling over a suitcase of notes, you would have been shown the door.

Fun though taking risks may be sometimes, on this occasion we are staking our children's future.

We need to grasp the fact that we are very small players in this 'game' about our future -- whether or not we are actually sitting at the table.

If we vote No (which our European partners will think actually means No), our input will be irrelevant because we will have voted -- very publicly -- not to play by any set of rules, either already agreed or to be agreed.

Therefore the perception of us as a country would be that we cannot be taken seriously in European or domestic matters.

It may well be that the Fiscal Stability Treaty in its present form ends up irrelevant, either in the context of a bigger package or because Europe (which incidentally is 'us' not 'them'), continues to dither.

But equally, if 12 of those countries which have already signed up ratify it, it goes ahead. It will happen with or without us -- creating a fast-track 'core' with a solidarity which we will not be a part of.

As matters stand, it probably is still all to be played for. But we must be at the table, as full partners, with a voice which is not compromised or neutered in any way by ourselves.

We simply cannot take the risk implicit in a No vote. We must vote Yes.

Maurice O'Connell
Tralee, Co Kerry

Irish Independent