Vote Yes! or it’s back into the arms of Mother England

The guys in Iveagh House have always been amazing.. In the early days up to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, they ran rings round the Whitehall mandarins who were only just learning to hack their way through the thickets of the NI problem. In his retirement from public service ( I think he’s a banker now) one of the brightest of the school of Dublin’s Department of Foreign Affairs Michael Lillis has come up with a brilliant strategy for winning a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Vote for Europe, or you’ll be driven back into the arms of Mother England.

Update. As Nevin has fairly pointed out in a comment, I’ve elided Liilllis’ words with Paul Gillespie’s the writer of the piece. But I haven’t misrepresented him. Here’s Lillis’s letter to the editor in full, plus this quote: “It is hard to imagine that, in this set of circumstances, we post-No Irish would have any choice but to hunker down in the new “second tier”, playing third fiddle, not to the EU Mark II, but rather to our old mistress, (i.e.the UK) who will dominate a revived EFTA Mark II and in practice negotiate on its behalf with the future EU. This may not be much noticed outside our shores in the din caused by the “departure” of Britain from the EU”. “British tabloid and broadsheet titles now occupy some 40 per cent of the print market and maintain the Eurosceptic policy lines decided in London. Television is equally penetrating. Advertising media are indistinguishable, reflecting the explosion of British retail chains here in the credit boom. British football and celebrity media have huge Irish audiences

whether the centrifugal forces which propelled Ireland away from British rule and influence during the last century are being replaced in this by the pull of the larger island on the smaller one now that the imperial and post-imperial phases have passed. The Northern settlement contributes to that. So does economic policy and structural convergence; shared credit and property booms; and our mutual membership of the Anglosphere .”

“It is ironic that this should be happening just as a more stable Ireland contrasts with a less stable Britain grappling with the possibility of Scottish independence and facing an increasingly inevitable Conservative election victory that could encourage that to happen. Such traumatic changes in their cultural moorings would prompt a profound unionist rethink of where their best interests lie – perhaps in Irish reunification.”

“( A Europhile Irish nationalism) needs to be reinvented and communicated far more effectively to citizens and voters, if we are not to sleepwalk back into the arms of mother England.”

And Irish unity thrown in as well! It’s a great pitch. My bet though is that Cameron in office would not go for a referendum. Admittedly, it’s a big hook to climb down from, but he would be able to plead the need to concentrate on the economy and changing circumstances in the EU – partly brought about ironically, by the EU’s response to the Irish No vote.

What a contrast with the old days – or is it?

Oh, Irishmen forget the past
Whack fol the diddle fol the di dol day
And think of the time that’s coming fast
Whack fol the diddle fol the di dol day
When we will all be civilized
Neat and clean and well advised
Oh, won’t Mother England be surprised?
Whack fol the diddle fol the di dol day

  • BfB

    Oh, and you wouldn’t want to have to go back to the Penal Code days now, would you.
    Looks like in your mother country laws are for thee, and not for ME
    Tsk, tsk…

  • consul

    I don’t think the argument stands up to much more than a gentle finger poke. A return to Mother England just seems such a bizarre notion, who’s purpose could it possibly serve? The idea that Ireland (Republic of) cannot get by as is seems a bit odd to me. The state is not looking around feverishly for some larger entity to swallow it up.

    The referendum result has been fairly badly misinterpreted by some? Some say it shows the Republic to be Euro-sceptic. I think that is off the mark a bit. The EU was not rejected, the Lisbon Treaty was. The Irish people are simply uninterested in the direction the Lisbon Treaty was proposing i.e. a federal Europe. I am also of the opinion that the no vote should not be read as stalling for a better deal as some who have made a way of life out of that kind of ‘politics’ have suggested. No one is crying out for a slightly improved Lisbon#2. Just fire it the bin is all that’s required.

    If anything, Ireland’s answer to Lisbon, by the logic of the Europhiles, must surely have moved the state away from Mother England if anything, given that Mother England is ratifying it.

  • Brian, have you seamlessly blended quotations from Michael Lillis and Paul Gillespie?

    I’ve tried to ease London and Dublin ‘mandarins’ through the thickets and it’s been an illuminating experience. Some were a little slow to realise that a pin-stripe suit and/or a Kerry/Dorset brogue would sort of stand out on the ‘peaceline’ 🙂

  • Greenflag

    BW ,

    ‘they ran rings round the Whitehall mandarins who were only just learning to hack their way through the thickets of the NI problem.’

    Not surprising .Historically for the ‘mandarins’ Ireland has always been at the end of a long spoon from Westminster , and Northern Ireland at the end of an even longer spoon, despite the constitutional attachment . Up until 1969 /1974 our fellow mandarins at Iveagh House did’nt even have a spoon to reach out to NI .
    A standard routine comedy line in political comedy/satire when some British Minister has ‘erred’ is to send him/her to Northern Ireland not quite the Gulag Archipelago of British politics but not far off either for an ambitious politician . On a scale of ministerial posting preferences Northern Ireland must rate at or near the bottom .

    Why would’nt it ?

    But it’s a good line from Lillis . Needs to get the timing right and ensure that there are no World Cup qualifiers being played on the day !
    More importantly we need a minimum turn out figure of 70% + for referendum ‘validity ‘. Its not democratric for 27% of the electorate to decide the ‘constitutional ‘ future for the remaining 73%. That’s how Northern Ireland ‘got ‘started iirc 🙂

  • consul

    Greenflag,
    If 73% can’t be bothered to vote, then they can hardly be passionately displeased with the result.

  • Nathan

    The Irish Civil Service were good to get him, his writings indicate he is a gifted strategist.

    Is he an Irish citizen or did we snap him up from overseas?

  • Bono

    Should ahve got their mandarins in Glasnevin!

  • Greenflag

    consul ,

    iirc -48% did’nt vote for all the reasons mentioned in an earlier post . For those who were ‘passionate’ enough to bother their rear ends there was a 27% to 24 % victory for the No’s over the Yes vote or 3% of the electorate . So 3 in 100 of the electorate ‘decided’ the result . I’m suggesting that on a matter as critical for the country’s future we should have more ‘consensus’.

    As things stand now the country is in the middle of a crisis on the economic front and in no man’s land re the Lisbon Treaty I’m beginning to think that Mr Cowan may be suffering from the No 2 syndrome presently being displayed by our neighbour the less than great Gordo and the ‘battle a day ‘ Robo . Maybe too long a period in the direct shadow of their former bosses is somehow enfeebling ? Nobody to pass the buck to any more ye see ?

    Mary Harney for Taoiseach 🙂

  • consul

    If it’s defeated a second time will you guys just accept it? I don’t agree that we’re in no man’s land on the Lisbon thing, it’s dead. But don’t worry, all of it’s elements will appear on entry treaties for new states in the coming years so it makes no odds. As regards the economy I can’t see to many countries doing a whole lot better at the mo so let’s not panic unduly.

  • Brian, perhaps you should put up Muscail do mhisneach, a Bhanba.

  • So is there enough latent (or not so latent) anglophobia around for this ruse to work?

  • Lillis is quite pessimistic:

    Madam, – I hope the following scenario can and will be avoided, but just now I can’t see how. ..

    It is hard to imagine that, in this set of circumstances, we post-No Irish would have any choice but to hunker down in the new “second tier”, playing third fiddle, not to the EU Mark II, but rather to our old mistress, who will dominate a revived EFTA Mark II and in practice negotiate on its behalf with the future EU. This may not be much noticed outside our shores in the din caused by the “departure” of Britain from the EU.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    [b]”Vote for Europe, or you’ll be driven back into the arms of Mother England.”[/b]

    LoL, Brilliant strategy.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    …….back to what the Irish do best. MOPEs

  • Greenflag

    ‘So is there enough latent (or not so latent) anglophobia around for this ruse to work? ‘

    Nothing to do with anglophobia – more a case of hibernophilia 🙂 We do better ruling ourselves . Not that mother England did’nt try, she did, but her heart was’nt it and neither was her investment money – there were much better returns on investment from the rest of the Empire ye see and as long as the Irish supplied food and soldiers shure was’nt that good enough for them ?

    When we look North and see how mother England is still ‘coping ‘ with the remnants of almost forgotten Empire , we’ll take one more look at the Shinner’s vacuous platform, an even briefer look at the neo con nutters of Libertas and their fascist friends from France and Austria and we’ll vote YES by a large majority .

    And as somebody mentioned here and ‘***K the begrudgers 🙂

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Back to big fat Mama Engleze?

    That is not credible – the Englezes are trying to get shot of Norn Iron – the last thing they would want is another bunch of mad feckers.

  • I find this argument quite bizarre. The process of economic disentanglement from dependence on the UK export-markets (from 80% to 20% since 1973) is certainly far too far advanced at this stage to be reversed by a no to Lisbon. The French and Dutch remain in the EU in spite of their no votes. No member state can be expelled from the EU. This Treaty is dangerous, because it crosses the constitutional rubicon between cooperation and coercion. For the first time 2 member states are ratifying a treaty that in substance is almost a carbon-copy of that which their peoples rejected, and the Irish people are being pressured to collaborate with it. That is an abuse of the democratic process, and amounts to an attempted coup by the elites aimed at overthrowing the people. The big deal for me is the enshrinement of the Charter of Fundamental Rights into EU law. Anything that is so enshrined comes within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The Charter would give the ECJ the final word on practically all areas of human rights, including asylum and immigration, the right to strike, the right to a fair trial, capital-punishment and scientific ethics. It’s taking a huge leap in the dark in the hope that the ECJ will/will not interpret the document in a manner the citizen approves of. This is the most undemocratic element of the Treaty, and if the govt doesn’t following the UK and Poland by obtaining an optout from the Charter, I will have no choice but to vote no again. Recent rulings from the ECJ on issues of asylum in particular e.g. striking down requirements for a non-EU spouse of an EU citizen to meet in order to get residency rights in the EU, have aroused concern across the EU, especially in Ireland and Denmark. No optout no treaty, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Oilifear

    Yes. The sovereignty issue is a delusion. Ireland is far more capable of expressing sovereignty inside the EU than outside of it (in contrast to large states, like the UK, for whom the EU’s positive effect is to reduce their mutually-destructive sovereignties).

    But I don’t think that this can be expressed so easily to the Irish electorate – not right now anyway. After the heady days of the Celtic Tiger we have a very swollen collective head. We have the air of a typical coke-head about ourselves. Everything that we thought was good about ourselves in the early nineties we have now perversely turned on it heads: we sent a turkey to the Eurovision (on purpose), we rejected Lisbon because we said we could get better, social partnership is being seriously considered being chucked.

    We are more sovereign in Europe that out, but our egos are just too big right now to take this concept in. If Lisbon is to stand a chance we need to sober up and get thinking straight quickly. Maybe the Cappuccino Recession can do that, but I don’t if it’s got enough java in it to wake us up to reality in time.

  • Dave

    It shows how desperate this Europhilic government is when they are again playing the same anti-English card they played in response to the Red C poll from Open Europe which showed that 71% of the population is against a second referendum.

    Instead of recognising that arguments against EU integration are based on reason and principle that are held by people of all nationalities they proffer the fiction that it is all an invention of mad Tory backbenchers in the UK parliament and equally mad newspaper publishers, and they maintain the pretence that EU elitism is infallible and that only the contrary and the misguided could object to surrendering the legislative powers of their democracy to those who are not elected by or accountable to them, whereas, in actuality, only those who are brainwashed by the propaganda of Europhilic mandarins could approve of such an anti-democratic process.

    If his circular logic finds English media so objectionable to Irish society, perhaps he should point out that the reason Irish society can’t regulate the supply of English media is because it has surrendered legislative powers to do so to the EU. He should also stop pretending that it is necessary to be a member of the EU in order to sell goods and services to it, and that integrating one’s economy with a slow-growing and underperforming region is not conducive to an economy with ambition to exceed averages and mediocrity, along with pointing out that Ireland’s economic success was built of the free market and deregulation and not the crippling overregulation that the EU represents.

    It’s revealing that this government and its servants in the shadows are proffering absurd propaganda and scaremongering to support the Lisbon Treaty and its integrationist agenda that is wholly unrelated to the content of the treaty or any outcome of rejecting it. That, of course, is exactly what they accused the No campaign of doing, and is the pretext they used to ignore the outcome of a fair democratic poll because they were instructed by their controllers in the EU (who are unaccountable to the Irish people) to ignore the democratically expressed will of the Irish people.

  • Dave

    “We responded with a refreshing enthusiasm which astonished the [European] Commission and the European Community at large and even ourselves. There was no more asking: What did or what would the British do? Rather: Where is our interest here and what is the way to win?” – Michael Lillis, an official in the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1966-88

    Just to point out another salient point that eludes the Mr Lillis: this is exactly an argument for not appointing useless, approval-seeking tossers to the civil service and not an argument for transferring the sovereign powers of the State to foreign agencies who are not accountable to the people.

    I hope I cleared his lamentable confusion up for him.

  • But Oilifear, this referendum has nothing to do with EU membership – it’s just a vote on Lisbon fullstop. Membership is unaffected.

  • “The guys in Iveagh House have always been amazing..”

    Brian, I’d like to thank the guy who sent me the Dick Spring briefing. I see the man with family roots in south Armagh is dabbling in political intrigues 🙂

  • Brian Walker

    FutureTaoiseach

    The Lisbon Treaty allows for withdrawal which Ireland doesn’t want but which could be a springboard for renegotiation. Failure to ratify requires decision on the consequences anyway. The one big political fact that has been settled is that the Treaty isn’t dead but is only slumbering. The EU is much more flexible than a strict construction of treaties admits.

    On the Charter, you note the protocol allowing British and Polish opt outs – controversial I know and their effectiveness may eventually depend on future Supreme Court interpretations. But a similar protocol could be made for Ireland. Rightly, you’ll be watching closely the evolution of an Irish negotiating position, helped powerfully I suspect by the other members States all of which have such a strong interest in a positive (Yes) outcome.

  • Yes, let’s go back with the Brits, if only I could see the faces of the Dublin types who fetishize the Irish state and its laws (you know who you are!)when that is announced. If you were born 100 miles up the road you’d be whistling a different tune, you hypocrite. To the nationalists of the North, we’re all not like that Dublin bollocks who posts here with so much hatred of the northern nationalist community. I apologise on behalf of most people in the south, were not all about commiting acts of onanism in worship of the 26 county state.

  • “In 1973 we ignored the accusations of national treason and enthusiastically gave up a substantial measure of sovereignty to join the European Community.”

    “We discovered that we were after all an independent people, masters of our destiny, and neither ashamed nor reluctant to create prosperity.”

    Brian, what do you make of those two Lillis assertions in adjacent paragraphs – and the ‘third fiddle’ options?

  • Greenflag

    Dave ,

    ‘along with pointing out that Ireland’s economic success was built of the free market and deregulation and not the crippling overregulation that the EU represents.’

    Meanwhile back at Dave’s headquarter’s the Libertas Neo Con House a’k.a Iraqi War Profiteers and Cheney back room boys these same ‘free marketeers ‘ have been emisserating the American middle and working classes for the best part of a decade . Left to their own devices these corporate ‘thieves ‘ will endeavour to steal , pillage and loot every scarce natural resource be it oil or water or precious metals for the interests of the top 1% of society .

    German , French , Irish , British , Dutch ,and Belgian voters are far better served by their present Governments than are the ‘unfortunate ‘ Americans who now find that after 8 years of neo con nutty government the idiots who have run the American economy into the ground now wish to do the same for Ireland . They can’t do it with the EU but ‘ireland ‘ is a soft target or so they think . The Irish people will not be fooled a second time by the neo con nutters of Libertas and their ‘unknown ‘ shady anti EU backers !

  • “the idiots who have run the American economy into the ground now wish to do the same for Ireland”

    Are the Irish ones not capable of doing it all by themselves, Greenflag?

  • Greenflag

    nevin,

    Of course -it’s just the Americans can do it faster and more efficiently 🙂 They appear to have proven it during the present administraion.

    Look at what they’ve done in the Middle East ?, to their own economy ? , to the American reputation abroad ? Look at the extent to which the financial white collar criminal classes of Wall St are being ‘saved’ by the ‘public sector ‘and/ or the american taxpayer. Now that they have fixed up Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae they have the Lehman shower to bail or not bail out . It’s a complete and utter farce to the people in the know . It’s just that they dare not print the total extent to which the present shower of neo cons have screwed up the entire economy 🙁

    It’s almost like a rerun of the 1928 Herbert Hoover administration when the latter believed that there was’nt much that could be done by government re the economy and that all one could do is to let the ‘market’ decide the outcome . Not much different from the attitude of Sir Charles Trevelyan and the British Imperial mindset of the 19th century which sat idly by whle millions of Indians and Irish starved to death in the world’s richest country /empire .

    It is the same ‘mentality’ which motivates master Dave Libertas here and the neo con anti EU merchants . Don’t forget that Mr Bush was in favour of ‘privatising ‘ social security ‘ in the USA in 2005 . If allowed these neo cons will have water privatised and if it becomes technically possible even air 🙁

    The EU has been the route via which Ireland has emerged from behind the claustrophobic British skirt . The fact that Dave and his ilk would rather we Irish would return to such a state indicates where his ‘real’ loyalties lie – they are not to Ireland but to amoral corporate capitalism of the worst kind .

    Americans will have an opportunity to reverse the theft of their democracy and their freedoms and their economic well being come November . As is usual the GOP will use ‘race’ and ‘patriotism’ and ‘fear’ to prevent change.

    As I said in an earlier post a ‘new ‘ paradigm is on it’s way in the USA . The only groups still holding out against such change are the big corporations and the Wall St financial thieves and the people they have bought out .And of course the unfortunate ‘born agains ‘ and rednecks of the deep south and the centre of the country who still believe that a ‘blackman ‘ can’t be President because well because well because because etc .
    It would be the end of ‘civilisation ‘ . meanwhile their kids are sent to Iraq to get killed and the poverty stricken people of the Appalachians continue to rank at the bottom of every socio economic league table statistic in the USA from income to education to health care .

    This time around I suspect that even the ‘rednecks ‘ will have had enough and will want a return to a New Deal of a kind similar to the one which lifted them out of abject poverty in the 1930’s to what they had won by the 1960’s and 1970’s and which the GOP have been attempting to steal back from them since the 1980’s !

  • borderline

    A significant difference between the Irish and British political systems is the closeness of Irish politicians to the electorate. Successful Irish politicians know what the voters want before they have thought of it themselves, which is expressed in the saying that there is too much democracy in Ireland.
    What Lillis knows, is that in their hearts, the Irish and first and foremost Nationalists. And because we inhabit a small island next to a big one that dominates us, we are anti-British. And most of all, we are anti-English Tory, our oldest and most bitter enemy.

    The lasting image of Lisbon #1 is of Kathy Sinnott being cheered on by British EUphobes in Strasbourg. It stuck in Irish craws.

    Lisbon #2 will have some figleaf of a clarification of non-participation rights in an EU Army so Irish mammies wont have to worry about David going off to fight for the freedom of South Ossetia. A scenario of being Cameron’s poodle – isn’t he already organising in the North Myles?- will be painted.

    And Lisbon #2 will fly home, mark my words.

  • @greenflag:

    > > ‘So is there enough latent (or not so latent) anglophobia around for this ruse to work?’

    > Nothing to do with anglophobia – more a case of hibernophilia 🙂 We do better ruling ourselves

    Sure, rulers closer to the ruled may do a better job (that was your point, right – not a specific one about the English as rulers?). It’s why devolution in Northern Ireland is a good idea too. So how does the benefit of a better connection and more accountability from government to governed equate in any way with the proposal to give more powers to a large, remote, and centralising body like the EU? Even if its unaccountability is slightly reduced in the process.

    “It’s the EU or the Brits, so you’d better vote yes” is a false dichotomy, and it depends on people fearing the brits enough that they don’t look too hard at the reasoning. Hence my remark about Anglophobia. How is it hibernophilic to hand powers from Ireland to a less democratic, more centralised Union – whether a United Kingdom or an (ever closer) European Union?

    @Oilifear

    The sovereignty issue is a delusion. Ireland is far more capable of expressing sovereignty inside the EU than outside of it… But I don’t think that this can be expressed so easily to the Irish electorate

    Maybe it can’t be easily expressed because it is self-contradictory nonsense – can you try to explain just what you did mean? Less control means greater sovereignty how?

  • Greenflag

    ‘It’s why devolution in Northern Ireland is a good idea too.’

    Not necessarily . Zimbabwe has’nt done to well out of self governance neither has Haiti . NI is not out of the woods yet as far as self government goes and it may never really be practically feasible in it’s present format .

    Neither did the Irish do well in the early days of the State and some would say not until the late 1950’s did our politicians really grasp the concept that we were ‘responsible ‘ for our governance and blaming England/Partition for our ‘failures’ was an out of date chimera .

    The European Union has been beneficial to all of Ireland for the past almost 35 years . The British Union favoured a small minority in Ireland mostly in Belfast and the surrounding area . That is why O’Connell wanted Repeal of the Union and the restoration of a Dublin Parliament .

    It’s not and won’t be a question of the EU or the Brits If it ever came down to that choice it would be the EU -not because people here are anti British but simply because they know what happens to Ireland or it’s interests if and whenever the Tories get into power .

    There is also a strong belief that the EU countries both individually and collectively are more likely to defend the people against the excesses of the so called ‘free market ‘ and the neo con forces striding the world today with their orgy of blood and economic self destruction 🙁

    Eventually there will be a Federal Europe but I expect it will not be before we see a lot more democratic accountability .

  • BfB

    ‘There is also a strong belief that the EU countries both individually and collectively are more likely to defend the people against the excesses of the so called ‘free market ‘ and the neo con forces striding the world today with their orgy of blood and economic self destruction :(‘

    Ha!
    AKA looking for a socialist skirt to hide behind.
    Individual doesn’t apply in the eeeeeuuuuuuuu. As in responsibility, attractive to the slackers of the world.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Individual doesn’t apply in the eeeeeuuuuuuuu.’

    Neither does 3,000,000 people behind bars -neither does the highest rate of infant death in the western world -neither does the lowest standards for first and second level education -neither does the highest murder rate – nor the highest rate for homeless – disabled veterans etc etc etc etc .

    But then only a gobshite like yourself Bfb would be proud of your country’s achievement in emisserating it’s middle and working classes for the past several decades while catering to the tiny minority of Wall St fraudsters and gangsters and the war mongers of the military industrial complex !

    wise up

  • Herring

    If all the others pass it Ireland should either negotiate opt-outs or do the gentlemanly thing and leave the EU.

    1% standing in the way of 99% may be the letter of the law, but it is still wrong for it to continue indefinately. At some point Ireland must decide to either be part of a post-Lisbon EU or become an affiliated nation like Iceland, Norway or Switzerland. The substance of the Lisbon Treaty is not going to change.

  • Vote YES – but not always…
    Free Europe? YES! – vote at http://www.FreeEurope.info

  • Brian Walker

    Nevin, you asked a mile back what I thought of the Lillis’s “third fiddle option” for Ireland i.e. back under the skirts of a UK at the head of an EFTA type secession from the EU. Cutting through all the thickets of the discussion, I believe the EU will trundle on with its membership intact, with or without full Treaty ratification, the eurozone clinging together for shelter in the financial gales (pace advocates of the Taylor rule). Not much more cohesion, but survival intact, certainly. The drivers for break away, including the threat of Conservative re-negotiation, will lack traction for as long as the elites manage to stay in charge, which overall,Ireland included with hiccups, will be the case. This may be an affront to the referendum process but I doubt in the end that it violates the settled will of the Irish people. In a messy way, I think the Irish people will accept the verdict of representative democracy. But we shall see!

  • Brian Walker, I would contend that withdrawl from the European Union is already legally possible, as shown by Greenland’s doing so in the 1980’s. Arguably, the requirement for a weighted-majority (about 2/3rds of member states) to agree an agreement on the state-of-affairs after the member state leaves the EU constitutes an additional barrier to a country leaving the EU.