The limits of sovereignty

Late tonight ( October 1st), the affair shows the limits of sovereignty but in a way that leaves Irish self-interest and national pride intact. It’s not a bad way to have your cake and eat it either. Ireland is being forced to extend rather than limit its full deposit guarantee scheme by including “foreign owned” banks that are well-known fixtures in Ireland like Ulster Bank and National Irish Bank. With such a huge guarantee scheme, nearly half as big again at GDP, sure why not invite in oul’ friends, a couple more’ll hardly make much of a difference? This may be Dublin’s “get out of jail” card to avoid a wrangle with the EU Commission which I nevertheless still think is shadow boxing in the light of the scale of the crisis. British pressure should now ease, as the BBC reports “there were no obvious signs of savers flocking to banks such as the Allied Irish Bank in the UK.” After three days of high anxiety and as the Oireachtas sits into the night, members should take comfort that they’re performing an awful lot better than the US political system – while at the same time – getting the Brits off their backs by inviting some of them into the house. Now that’s what I call good Anglo-Irish relations. Ireland interdependent yet independent, striking out it’s own course again but less perversely than over the Lisbon Treaty. It’s an episode that will live in history.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London