Friday 6 December 2019

Treaty debate

• I agree entirely with David McWilliams (Irish Independent, May 23) when he writes that he is a businessman. But his 24-paragraph article suggests he is in the entertainment business rather than that of his professional discipline.

The headline suggesting that the fiscal treaty represents 'Kamikaze economics' comes from the main body of his script and cannot be attributed to some sub editor zealot. His message is clearly built around the punchline and, as such, does a grave disservice to David himself and to your readers.

Rambling and unusually incoherent for David, his 'vote No' tune contains three blatant misrepresentations about the Stability Treaty.

1. The fiscal framework reinforced in the treaty already exists and this is simply not acknowledged.

2. The treaty introduces a sensible and substantial flexibility for each country to tailor in its national law its own 'course correction' needs to reflect its own specific abilities to achieve target balances in income and spending within the overall framework. Again, this bottom-up approach is totally ignored by David.

3. The treaty allows for a long-overdue integration of individual economic plans on an EU-wide basis but does not oblige all European countries to balance their books simultaneously.

As an economist, David should know that such claims of EU-imposed, simultaneous over- or under-spending action are incorrect. Even as an entertainer, David would also know that his claims of such a simultaneous economic blitz across all EU countries go well beyond the bounds of artistic licence.

As for me, I am a 68-year-old pensioner who is voting Yes for a very sensible and prudent stability treaty.

I put €5 a week in my Credit Union to cover the costs of my funeral. Am I being my sensible, independent self? Or, in preparing for my inevitable death, am I guilty of what David would call 'Kamikaze Economics'?

Brian Brennan
Dublin 8

• The proponents of the fiscal treaty stress the need for Ireland to have a source of borrowing (in the ESM) in 2014. But the treaty is based on the need for member states to reduce their borrowings! This is the major contradiction in the Yes campaign.

Secondly, the proponents of the treaty have not dealt with the need to reduce the colossal cost of running Ireland, eg, by scrapping quangos, and by abolishing all local authorities (replacing them with four regional bodies).

Thirdly, the Yes people talk about certainty. What certainty have they obtained (in writing) on the interest rate Ireland would have to pay if it accessed the ESM?

Finally, there has been no debate on the costs, composition and statutes of the ESM in this country.

Patrick Heafey
Clonmel, Co Tipperary

• I'm both bemused and frightened by the upsurge in support for Sinn Fein.

As a former history teacher, I can see many parallels between Sinn Fein and the Nazi Party of the 1930s. While the Nazis blamed the Treaty of Versailles (1919) for Germany's ills, Sinn Fein blames the 'austerity treaty'. Unfortunately, many new supporters fail to look below the surface, as indeed did those in 1930s Germany.

George Coe
Gowran, Co Kilkenny

• A No vote means locking ourselves into a soundproof septic tank -- where nobody outside will hear anything we say, even if they wanted to.

A Yes vote ensures that we qualify for the next round of the negotiations, which will decide our future. Whether we are there or not. Where we have a right to have a say.

Maurice O'Connell
Tralee, Co Kerry

• I am writing to reply to Declan Walsh (Letters, May 25), who attested that we are in "danger of becoming obscured by a plethora of issues that have nothing to do with the text of the treaty". Bravo, Mr Walsh! With this one statement, you have encapsulated all that is wrong with Ireland today.

For many years, we have received and voted on many "texts". We have looked to the so-called learned and our elected and self-proposed leaders to advise us on the "interpretation" of said texts.

Now another champion of European law attends the question with what I am sure are excellent qualifications to his name. So let's look at what the learned argument offers me to change my mind. The benefits appear to be -- and forgive me if I miss one -- an attempt to ensure states act responsibly and that we constitutionalise the concept of a balanced budget.

I will deal with these two in tandem, if I may, by pointing out that there is no need for us to vote on these two concepts.

I say this because in article five of the Irish Constitution we are "sovereign"; in article 21, all money bills "shall be initiated in Dail Eireann only"; and finally, in article 15.4.1, we shall have a government that does not pass any laws that are "repugnant" to our Constitution.

I argue that when these three articles are combined then there is an inherent duty on the Government to propose budgets that are both responsible and balanced.

I do not need to give the EU rights over my Government's fiscal policy when I have already elected said Government to do that.

Mr Walsh then contends that it will "ensure that countries do not engage in reckless borrowing in the future". He goes on to say that the adoption of the "treaty will be of benefit to Ireland".

These two points are completely ridiculed by, what I contend to be, the guaranteed second bailout and the fact that, in some imaginary time in the future, we will talk about further borrowing from somewhere.

Talk? It seems the Government is talking of a return to the markets in 2015. If it does its job, then we do not need guaranteed funding into the future.

Furthermore, where does a second bailout leave us, post treaty, if it is passed? Does this trigger Ireland being bankrupt? Do we lose our independence? Where is article 21 then?

I strongly challenge his contention that "for nearly 40 years, the application of the rules relating to the European Union has served Ireland well".

As far as I am aware, Ireland first joined the EEC, then we hooked up to the EC, and it was some time after this we have arrived at the European Union. We have not been in the "union" for 40 years as it hasn't existed that long.

On a more serious note, is Mr Walsh aware that, under EU rules, our Government allows in Brazilian beef, which has grazed in the grass graveyards of the rainforest?

Then, for "environmental" reasons, people are prevented from cutting turf. Is this a good example of "benefit"? Perhaps, but I would say it's more in Brazil's favour.

This is but one clear example of why I am voting No.

Dermot Ryan
Athenry, Co Galway

• Kathleen Ryan (Letters, May 24) wonders why the word 'republic' does not appear in the treaty pamphlet. The official name of this country is Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is a soccer team, not a country.

Alan Fairbrother
Dublin 16

• Shane Ross, who has come out on the No side, has adopted a most unusual approach. He is voting No to get a second chance to vote, possibly on the Yes side, depending on the circumstances. What if there is no second vote? You couldn't make it up.

Brendan Cafferty
Ballina, Mayo

Irish Independent

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