Don’t beat yourselves up over loss of sovereignty. There are compensations


Asked if they believed that Ireland had surrendered its sovereignty in accepting the bailout, 56 per cent said that it had, while 33 per cent said it had not and 11 per cent had no opinion.  Latest Irish Times poll

As Mick and others have discussed , it’s interesting how fashions of sovereignty change. I remember Dev’s grandson Eamonn O Cuiv telling me how Ireland finally won it on joining the Common Market in 1973 (though even if they hadn’t wanted to much, they have been compelled to join in with the British accession). Now Europe the Liberator has become Europe the Oppressor.

In the stormy debates on the Treaty in 1921, there were plenty of attacks about retaining  the Crown and accepting  Dominion status but I don’t recall an objection from the Republican side to keeping the link with sterling.

Britain can easily trump the Republic on loss of sovereignty from the point America entered the Second World War. The Bretton Woods accord, devaluations in 1949 and 1967 (which automatically affected Ireland ), the humiliating IMF loan of 1976 – not to mention Suez – are just a few examples of an interdependent Britain.

The concept of sovereignty depends on a nation’s self image. Much of that is an illusion. While the UK has the head start, Europe will be the whipping boy for both States for quite a few more years. Thankfully neither identity nor recovery  depend on absolute sovereignty. We remain who we are and even in a globalising world, recovery lies substantially in our own hands.

Consolation in the  decline of British sovereignty has been the shattering of  ideas of superiority. This has been a great help in improving the relationship between Britain and Ireland.  Perhaps the difference in experience accounts for such wringing of Irish hands  today. Ireland’s fall has been steep after only a decade  or so of feeling on top of the world, so the disillusion has been all the more profound.  You could  hardly imagine such an impact in the 1930s to 50s.  The bailout may be Ireland’s Suez.

Adds  Perhaps the most abrupt incursion on Irish sovereignty comes not from oppressors old or new but from the legal constitution of the European Court of Human Rights. While a majority of Irish people might vote against any form of abortion, legal provision will have to be made for it in life or death situations, all the same.

Finally, a Swiftian piece in Prospect

When the English next invaded, under the Tudors and then Cromwell, the reformation meant we could no longer marry them. So they slaughtered our leaders, which was fair enough, but also took 95 per cent of our land, banned our religion, destroyed our language, window-and-chimney-taxed us into dark mud bunkers, and killed millions by sword and famine. Now, that’s loss of sovereignty. It took us quite a while to win it back. If we want to keep it this time, we must learn from British best practice, as exemplified by Humphrey Gilbert in my own Tipperary. Having slaughtered as many locals as he could, he’d invite the surviving chieftains to negotiate in his tent, which they had to approach between rows of stakes on which their relatives’ severed heads were impaled. This technique helped him capture 28 castles without artillery; it would certainly persuade Anglo-Irish’s senior bondholders to take a haircut.



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  • gréagóir o frainclín

    Very true with the way it is going at the mo, the independant sovereignty of all nations means nothing. We are becoming one big inter dependant global community. The concept of a ‘New World Order’ once peddled by the conspiracy theorists is indeed materializing right before us.

    Nationalism holds no weight now, being kept alive in the UK with the rememberance of the ‘great’ times past … ie the Empire etc…, annual war commerations, the current war in Afghanistan etc… The Iraq adventure ended with a bit of an anti-climax. Besides ‘Nationalism’ as an ideology is backward – the mantra of the ‘tribe’…. Lord of the flies stuff! Sport is the new battle field where opposing fans wave their ‘national’ colours.

    Here in Ireland, peddling the myths of 1916 is futile now, the 100th anniversary means nothing. The commemeration in 2016 will be a sham. Laying the olive wreath at the GPO will mean nothing. For what died the sons of Roisin ……

    Still, no one has died, and life goes on.
    It’s the changing ideology at the very core of society that what matters, as it has always done, from generation to generation and changing now as it is, right before us!
    Isaiah Berlin and the like formulated such ideas of how to run and ‘control’ society. The guys at those G20 meetings etc… call the shots that shape the world. Who knows what they plan.

  • The Word

    Gordon Brown’s book on the financial crisis in the world certainly advocates joint action and common laws to deal with globalisation.

    This may lead to the next stage of pooling sovereignty, with everybody initially in denial, like the British, that this sovereignty has been pooled.

    Many people look forward to a world where totally free competition between nations is curtailed and money no longer becomes the god of our peoples. And that this then filters down to the people who are not enslaved by personal competition and the need to worship this empty goal to stay alive.

    There’s plenty for everybody if we only organised ourselves to kill this slave driving agenda some call capitalism.

  • Greenflag

    The lesson or moral of the story seems to be that

    ‘when everybody(state ) is ‘sovereign’ no state is sovereign’. .
    Sovereignty just ain’t what it used to be . The USA is dependent on the Chinese and other creditor nations holding a couple of trillion ‘excess’ dollars in treasury bills (effectively loans to the US government so that it can continue to pay it’s public sector employees ). The UK is dependant on the EU for 80% of it’s exports and Ireland was /is dependant on multi nationals for the bulk of it’s private sector investment and now dependant on the ECB/IMF to rescue us from the abyss of at least 50% of our own making. Northern Ireland is dependant on the UK for it’s annual subvention without which present living standards would drop by between 10-20% .

    @ greagoir

    ‘ Nationalism holds no weight now,’

    I disagree . Even in a globalised community the vast majority of people will remain in the countries of their birth etc although many more than in the past will have direct contact with other countries in the course of business and demographers expect that some 400 million will be living in countries other than those of their birth by 2050 (up from 200 million in 2000) . I’d have said much lesser weight than in the past with the exception of some of the emerging Islamic states where ‘extremism’ in religious matters will continue to support ‘nationalistic’ rulers .

    @ greagoir ‘

    ‘The guys at those G20 meetings etc… call the shots that shape the world.’

    Ironically there was a time circa Bretton Woods and even later into the 1980’s when it was possible for the world’s premier economic powers -USA, Japan, Germany, UK and France to sit around a table and make binding fiscal policy and currency decisions in secret (they had to be ) and then once the ‘new solution ‘ was found whether it was an agreed currency devaluation or the USA persuading the other countries to buy or sell more of the ‘excess ‘ dollars in circulation and the rest of the world simply followed the leaders . In the mid 1970’s Japan was in the same economic position vis a vis the US as China is today .It’s other than the new ‘much more global context -deja vu time again -but with a major difference . There are now 20 or so major economies and the ‘new rules ‘ whatever they will end up being will not be decided by 5 powers or even 8 . Such is the speed of information transfer not to mention the degree of internet savvy /wikileaks etc etc that markets will probably be aware of any future G 20 decision before it’s officially made -thus defeating the measure or allowing those in the know to take advantage for personal or national gain -think Mr Soros and the British pound devaluation .

    ‘ Who knows what they plan.’

    A very good question and the best answer hinted at above is probably nobody in the financial markets should know before they implement it. A tall order and maybe in today’s world even impossible with so many countries involved .
    A kind of upscaled equivalence of the ECB trying to rein in 16 different and soon probably more national fiscal policies .

    A more pertinent question today would be not

    ‘Who knows what they plan.’

    Who knows if they are planning or just now muddling through ? Even if they do plan a course of action can it work . I suspect that they too are in limboland as of now -hoping that something might happen which can unlock the ‘recovery’ genie from it’s trickle down poverty strait jacket ?

    Ideology of the extreme right or left cannot provide the answers and even the moderate wings of the traditional ideologies seem ‘stuck’ for solutions .

    In the meantime what we used to call ‘democracy’ is withering on the vine of middle class emisseration in large parts of the western world and is under constant attack in the Middle East as a ‘false ideology ‘ of the infidels and in authoritarian capitalist China it’s one party rule as always .

  • Cynic2

    In the case of Ireland the glaring compensation appears to be those loans of billions to prop it up and help it through this crisis. Without those it would have collapsed financially and politically. Indeed, despite all the political bluster about the terms and interest rate, in reality these are soft loans, given Ireland current credit rating.

    In terms of sovereignty, we seem to be back to the Home Rule vs Independence debate of the 1880’s- 1920’s. The reality is that all power in a state flows from its financial independence. That is why such efforts are going in to keep all the PIGS in the Euro. If the Euro collapses or is diminished,so is the great European Project of a political union.

    Ireland is, in effect, now just a regional area of the EU and the Dail a regional parliament. As we have seen this week, even in areas like Social Policy, it is forced by institutions like Strasbourg to maintain European norms in areas like Human Rights and EU directives.

    The real question for Ireland is therefore, which political entity does it want to be linked to?

    Given that the UK is by far its biggest market the logical alternative for Ireland would be to move to become an independently entity but linked to the currency of the UK not the EU. That might put Ireland in a position far more conducive to economic reality and give it more flexibility in developing its economy.

    But, economic logic and politics are often poor bedfellows.Barring a collapse in the Euro for other reasons, that will not happen for many reasons including:

    * the weight of history
    * Irish jingoism about ‘independence’
    * the UK’s lack of desire to take on a basket case and political problem
    * the ECB’s desire to gets its money back

    Perversely, Ireland’s best chance for the medium term may come if the Euro collapses. As its debts are dominated in Euros and a high proportion of its exports paid for in sterling, this might help it out of a hole. On the other hand, if Europe pulls away from recession and the UK does not, then Ireland’s woes may increase significantly. In the end, whoever the new Taoiseach is, their only real political option is to hold tight and pray that Cameron and Osbourne are good at their jobs.

  • another

    Argentina, Sovereignty, the IMF and recovery:

  • The Word


    “In the end, whoever the new Taoiseach is, their only real political option is to hold tight and pray that Cameron and Osbourne are good at their jobs.”

    The likes of Cameron and Osborne are the strongest reason for the Irish people to reject the return to the UK. They indicate that there is a values’ mismatch between the countries. Ireland doesn’t do right and privilege in the way the UK does.

    Irish politics tend to be about controlling the centre ground, with the right and left as peripheral notions.

  • Cynic2

    The Word

    You miss the point. Why on earth would the UK want it?

  • Neville Bagnall

    If a desire for sovereignty leads to isolation, the final result will be even worse than the normality of impaired sovereignty. Ask the Chinese of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Japanese of the late Edo period, or the Irish of the 1940s.

    The great contribution of liberalism, and the reason it overcame whigism, is the recognition of the value of all members of society and that, in the long term, free and fair interchange of commerce and information creates more wealth, invention and freedom than conservatism and authoritarianism, no matter how principled it attempts to be.

    The global system is chaotic. Control is always only partial, and often illusory. Thats one reason why I don’t believe in any New World Order. Power, wealth and violence are powerful influencers but they are neither omnipotent nor omniscient.

    The best one can hope for is that those exercising power do so in a way that seeks to minimise the injustices and corruptions of the system, to prevent them if possible and compensate for them when not.

    For all its faults, I see representative democracy and the rule of law as the best way to achieve that.

    Since life first organised itself into multicellular form, it has been pooling sovereignty. Right through tribes, cities, states and supra-national organisations, the trend has been all one way.

    It works because we have far more in common than divides us, and when we lose our false pride, that becomes clear.

  • Sovereignty? You think there is anything like sovereignty today whenever the manipulation, the free flow and the subjective restriction/turning off of the supply tap, of easily invented credit and quantitatively eased loot, controls your every move. Oh please, get real, you are being played for ignorant suckers and sad fools by those who invent paper wealth for themselves and then enslave you with it whilst they have a ball and charge you for the privilege.

    Educate yourselves or you will render yourselves as dumb schmucks if you are not already there.

    Try these two hyperlinks …. with the first one containing this Ireland reference …..

    Internationally, Moody’s cut Ireland’s credit rating by five notches from something called Aa2 to Baa1 and warned it could further downgrade it to Baadfuckingidea. Money McBags doesn’t know what is more absurd, Moody’s rating system or that anyone would give a fuck about it. But hey, blinding insight like “the Irish government’s financial strength could decline further if economic growth were to be weaker than currently projected or the cost of stabilizing the banking system turn out to be higher than currently forecast,” provides a valuable tool for the market (the tool of course being the analyst who wrote that). ” ….

    And this other one, which tells you of the folly of secrecy because of the abuse of power which it tempts information controllers with, and which they don’t control, and thus do they generate the chaos in which y’all now live in. And it appears to mirror exactly the present Wikileaks saga too ….. …… although 31years ago. Then too was free speech defended against the fool tools of the establishment who would have you ignorant of the dodgy deeds that they do and would continue to do for their power plays over you. And they are too stupid to learn that they aren’t nearly smart enough, nor are they fit for future purpose in this new Reality of Instant Shared Global Communication, should they seek to Punish and Silence the Pushers of Knowledge …….. for that turns the tables on them and locks them into a Self Destruct Cycle.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Surely one fairly important necessary – but insufficient – characteristic of sovereignty (in a global economy, in as far as there is such a thing any longer) would include the right to control your own interest rates and your own central bank then you don’t control your own currency. The UK still has that and the free state doesn’t.

  • Alias

    Sovereignty is simply the power to act according to your own interests. If you give that power to others, then they use that sovereignty to act in their interests, not yours.

    A good practical example of this is the transfer of sovereignty over the Irish Central Bank to the ECB, and it is also a good practical example why it is idiotic to give power away to foreign interest.

    The Irish Central Bank is now required to “act in accordance with the guidelines and instructions of the ECB” and to “support the general economic policies” of the EU “in order to contribute to the achievement of the [EU’s] objectives.” In other words, in is required to promote the EU’s interest and not the interests of the Irish people.

    The ECB has used this transfer of sovereignty to it to increase Ireland’s sovereign debt by 186 billion euros by the simple expedient of lending this money to the Irish Central Bank who in turn loaned it to eurosystem banks in Ireland who in turn used it to repay debts to banks elsewhere in the eurosystem.

    However, these eurosystem banks in Ireland are bankrupt and are not in any position to repay the 186 billion euros that the ECB has indirectly loaned to them. Since the Irish Central Bank is a state-owned institution (the Minister for Finance is its sole shareholder), it is the Irish taxpayers who will have to repay this additional 186 billion euros when the eurosystem banks duly default to the Irish Central Bank.

    The Irish gave the ECB executive control of the Irish Central Bank but retained responsibility for how the ECB exercised that executive control. Indeed, the unmitigated idiots even declared that it should be unconstitutional for them to object to how the ECB used that executive control of their finances: “”When exercising the powers and carrying out the tasks and duties conferred upon them by the Treaties and the Statute of the ESCB and of the ECB, neither the European Central Bank, nor a national central bank, nor any member of their decision-making bodies shall seek or take instructions from Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, from any government of a Member State or from any other body.”

    That is an extra 186 billion euros of debt that Irish taxpayers will have to repay simply because they gave the sovereignty to the ECB to increase their sovereign debts without their consent and to do so in order to promote “the [EU’s] objectives.”

    Had the Irish understood what sovereignty means, they would not have been foolish enough to have allowed quislings to hoodwink them into giving it away and, ergo, would not have this additional debt to repay.

    That has nothing to do with ‘globalisation’ or ‘Illuminati’ or ‘New World Order’ et al – it is simply a bunch of idiots who gave their sovereignty away and must now suffer the consequences of their folly.

  • gréagóir o frainclín

    “That has nothing to do with ‘globalisation’ or ‘Illuminati’ or ‘New World Order’ et al – it is simply a bunch of idiots who gave their sovereignty away and must now suffer the consequences of their folly.”

    Very True!

  • The simple and obvious way to judge loss of sovereignty is to measure the degree to which a Nation is able to control its destiny. Entering the EU has meant that a whole raft of law, particularly commercial law, is now set by the EU institutions. Entering the eurozone meant that a Nation no longer had any monetary control and was (in theory restricted in the amount it could borrow or become indebted). The bailout terms tighten the degree to which a Nation can borrow. The loss of fiscal control looks to be imminent.

    In theory, Ireland has the ability to leave the EU, if it wants to. Since it is almost certainly trapped in debt well into the medium term future, the loss of sovereignty is stark and it is in people’s faces. The historical comparisons of other countries do not provide much comfort but the portrait of Oliver Cromwell epitomises Ireland’s misery.

    Cynic2 said:“Perversely, Ireland’s best chance for the medium term may come if the Euro collapses