The referendum on the European Fiscal Stability Treaty is looming but will the government pay attention if it receives an unfavourable answer?
Mar 12 2012 By Fionnuala Carolan
Taoiseach Enda Kenny celebrates a yes vote following Ireland's second Lisbon Treaty referendum
With a referendum looming, many people haven’t decided how to vote yet, mainly because they don’t have the information needed to make an informed decision.
The only thing anyone seems to know about the European Fiscal Stability Treaty is that if we vote no we’ll fall out of favour in Europe and we’ll probably just be dragged out in six months’ time, to vote again, as happened with the Lisbon Treaty.
The government wants to push through a yes vote and is leading us to believe that a yes vote is the only real option whereas the no campaigners are saying that voting yes is just further surrendering our independence to Europe and will lead to tougher austerity measures, further economic crisis and eventually a second bailout.
While we are currently top of the class in Europe for agreeing to all the fiscal measures given to us by the troika, it seems like the government is scared out of its wits to say no to Europe because once the cash tap is turned off, we are truly on our own. But it’s hard not to ask whether being on our own would make us any worse off than we already are?
Watching the news last night made me ask myself just that. It showed hundreds of people, young and middle aged, queuing overnight to get into a jobs expo in Cork. They had travelled in their droves to search for possible employment abroad because this country offers them no quality of life anymore.
Each one interviewed looked more disillusioned and downtrodden than the last and one man was close to tears while speaking about the lack of opportunity to make an honest living in his home country. It was a bleak scene.
The Taoiseach is promising that if we vote yes to this referendum and take this tough medicine we should be over the worst by 2019. Can the people and businesses of Ireland handle seven more years of hardship and austerity?
IBEC director general Danny McCoy said that a yes vote will “secure Ireland's position at the very heart of European decision-making” and a no vote would “leave us in a vulnerable position on the sidelines of Europe”.
Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins believes the government is attempting to blackmail the public into voting in favour of the Treaty. The Socialist Party member accused Enda Kenny of signing the Treaty last month, knowing the threat of Europe withholding emergency funds would force the public into a yes vote.
But the Taoiseach insisted the public was not being blackmailed and said that adopting the Treaty would ensure Ireland access to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) should it ever need it and would create “jobs for the people”.
A yes vote will most likely be the outcome of this referendum but only because we have no real option, a bit like all those people leaving these shores to search for a better life elsewhere.