Lisbon Essay (25): As Iceland discovered the EU is the firebrigade…

Jason O’Mahoney lays out a scenario he believes the No side is studiously avoiding: what happens to Ireland’s national interest within Europe if there is a No vote and Lisbon is abandoned for a more centralised, bi or tri-lateral decision making processes in its stead. The Treaty itself is dry and technical because it is dry and technical, not because anyone is trying pull a fast one. And he believes that counter to Nigel Farage’s assertions in LE10 the “alternative to Lisbon has almost no support in the rest of Europe”.

Jobs. Inward Investment. Influence within the institutions of…..bleugh. You’ll have heard all that stuff from people smarter than me.

Here’s why I’m voting Yes.

The EU works. It does more good than harm, and I’ve not come across a proposal from Sinn Fein or Joe Higgins or UKIP or Coir/Youth Defence which makes better sense, and wins as much support among European people, as the EU.

We’re not voting on the EU itself, true, but here’s my problem:

If we vote No, the rest of Europe will respect our decision. They will accept that we have voted twice against further integration, and that we are sincere in our beliefs that this is as far as we go. In short they will, much to our surprise, believe us.

Is it unreasonable to suggest that those other countries that want to move on will negotiate amongst themselves, and not invite us?

After all:

A) We have said (Three out of four times.) that we’re not interested.

B) Why would anyone believe an Irish government could get anything it negotiated through a referendum anyway, after failing twice in a row? Involving us just makes it more complicated.

They will respect us and leave us be, and I don’t want us to be left be. I want us at the table when Angela Merkel turns and says “What does Ireland think?” and no one on the No side can assure me of that.

There is good stuff in the treaty, but it is technical. The Council will vote in public, for example. Does that excite you? Does that cause your nether regions to stir? Is there anyone closing their curtains, and sweatily slipping “Red Hot Council Decisions Volume 2.” into their DVD player? No there isn’t.

But then there are no teenagers slipping a well thumbed copy of “Aircraft Window Sealant regulations” under the sheets either, but next time you get on a plane, and look at the seal around the window, I bet you’ll think: “I hope someone checks this stuff.” Stuff can be boring AND important and this is one of those things.

Many of the people opposed to the treaty are sincere. Joe Higgins is, but Joe is also using the treaty to fight for a vision of society that he has never succeeded in doing in a general election. Trying to turn Ireland into North Korea without the psychotic midget dictator and the daily diet of tree bark and weevils is going to be a hard enough sell. At least turn up on the right battlefield , Joe.

Sinn Fein are still moving away from a 19th century view of the world towards modern times. Sinn Fein say that they are now committed to the EU, using the same tone that the PSNI use about their commitment to human rights.

Certainly, when you look at the way Sinn Fein ministers in the North talk about the EU (Quite nicely in a More tea, Vicar? Chocolate Hobnob? kind of way.) they’re either two-faced, with a partitionist approach to the EU, or the ministers in the North show the way Sinn Fein is heading on Europe.

Either way, their alternative has almost no support in the rest of Europe, and believing that Sinn Fein can make the other 26 countries surrender everything is a bit hopeful: When they tried to negotiate with just one country (The Brits), the best they got us were all-Ireland telly ads telling us how to not get the runs from food poisoning.

Coir/Youth Defence have it in for, well, 21st Century life on Earth. As an architect friend described Coir’s view to me: “Vote Yes and the gays will make aborted children fight in Afghanistan for €1.84 an
hour.”

We have problems, big giant Godzilla-without-cute-Godzuki sized problems coming at us. We don’t need to create new problems for the sake of it, and that’s what we will do with a No vote. If you’re pissed off with the government and the political establishment, that’s fine. Kick the crap out of them at election time.

But voting No to get at the government is like being one of those morons who throws rocks at the fire brigade. As Iceland discovered, the EU is the fire brigade, and it’s damn handy having a direct line to the station.

Yes is, quite simply, the sensible self-interested way to go.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty