So, it’s official. The Irish people want a referendum, whether the Constitution says they need one or not? Micheal Martin thinks it’s overblown, and that the real problem is that the current treaty does not actually address any of the real problems facing the Irish (nay, the European) economy:
For all of the fighting in December about the place of existing European Union treaties and institutions, existing treaty law will remain fully in force. The draft treaty explicitly states that the whole issue of real change is being kicked down the road – with a target for doing something within five years.
As drafted, it is a minimalist pact which does little more than put a small amount of extra enforcement behind policies which are already incorporated in EU regulations.
The treaty’s fiscal targets are those which were agreed last year and finalised in a regulation which came into force in November.
Some groups are talking about how this pact is revolutionary and dangerous. This is nonsense. As drafted it is a tokenistic effort which entrenches already agreed policies but fails completely to address the causes of the crisis.
In a thinly veiled dig at Sinn Fein (and their eagerness to have another good day in the High Court), he talks about groups in a rush ‘to have something to campaign against’. But he then goes on to suggest that instead of putting all its efforts to avoid a referendum vote, the Irish government should
…make sure that something emerges which is worth voting on. As things stand, the problem with this treaty is not that it does too much, it is that it does nothing about the real causes of this crisis. In particular it completely ignores the policies required to return growth and job creation to Europe.
Whether of course Ireland (or any of the small countries whose courage to stand up for themselves Mr Martin plainly commends) has the means never mind the clout to withstand Frau Bundeskanzlerin’s persistent calls for coercive powers over smaller countries (which pretty much comprises all of the EU these days), is another question.
But what Mr Martin is looking for is a premise upon which this government might fight and win (unlike the last) the first time round.
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