| 4.1°C Dublin

Euro creep

• There is no doubt now but we are heading for a United States of Europe, with a common banking system, a pooling of debt, and possibly a European Finance Minister akin to the American chairman of the Fed.

The Irish people were never asked specifically if they wanted to be the Rhode Island or the Wyoming of Europe but that is what our size and population will determine for us. All our referenda have been ad hoc questions to specific problems but each positive answer has put another piece of the jigsaw in place.

It's as if the country is sleep-walking its way into a European federation. It's unfortunate that most of Ireland's relationship with Europe has centred around money, from subsidies to farmers, to structural funds and now bailouts.

Where decisions are made with money as the driving force, the bigger picture loses out.

A recent small example of the creeping power of Europe is turf-cutters being ordered out of bogs that were harvested for generations.

Expect plenty more of this. Since Ireland joined Europe almost 40 years ago, it has had its hand out. Now it's payback time.

Now that the dust of the recent referendum has settled, a proper debate should take place about our relationship with Europe.

A certain fatalism has emerged in the national psyche in respect of our ability to remain economically independent -- sentiments such as 'we are too small and open an economy' to stand alone, or 'our place is firmly within Europe'.

I suggest that deeper integration will remove whatever is left of our sovereignty, culture and pride as a people. We will become a tiny cog in a big engine, a backwater with no identity of our own.

Joining clubs comes at a price, one of which is a loss of individualism.

Ireland needs to get its voice back before it becomes irrelevant. Do we really want to be the Rhode Island of Europe?

Joseph Kiely
Donegal Town, Co Donegal

Irish Independent