On Ireland’s strange romance with ‘Euronationalism’….

Ever wondered why nearly all our Northern Ireland MEPs have been Eurosceptic (with the exception of the SDLP) whilst those in the south have been almost universally Europhile? John Coakley on the remarkably protean nature of Irish identity, and it’s willingness to engage with wider notions of European identity

It may well be the case that the pillars on which Irish nationalism has relied in the past – such as its ancestral language, a perceived link to the Catholic tradition, and a militantly separatist version of history – have all been undermined over recent decades, leaving space for the growth of broader patterns of loyalty.

But the pace at which public opinion seems to have changed must remain something of a puzzle. Why have Irish citizens, like their counterparts elsewhere, been prepared to give up the distinctive green passport, to adopt the euro in place of the pound, and perhaps even to defer to European foreign and defence priorities? And why have Irish elites, like elites in other member states, been willing to surrender decision-making capacity and to forgo domestic promotion prospects (even if much brighter prospects beckon for the few at EU level)?

These questions are challenging, and raise a more general issue about the puzzle referred to above. Rather than exploring “Euroscepticism”, whose roots are not at all surprising in a union of nation states, should we not be exploring “Euronationalism”, the force that has played so remarkable a role in driving the European integration process?

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  • Mc Slaggart

    Who is John Coakley when he is at home? At what time in history was the Irish not fully engaged with Europe? The very idea of “Celtic” culture is northern European and did not start on the Island.

    I never thought Bairbre de Brúnh was anti Europe as she could speak both French and German.

  • Barnshee

    “Why have Irish citizens, like their counterparts elsewhere, been prepared to give up the distinctive green passport, to adopt the euro in place of the pound, and perhaps even to defer to European foreign and defence priorities?”

    Might not be unrelated to the endless loot extracted from the EU by the ROI

  • Republic of Connaught

    Barnshee:

    “Might not be unrelated to the endless loot extracted from the EU by the ROI”

    Ireland has paid 42% of the total cost of the European banking crisis. Repeat: EUROPEAN banking crisis. So we’re easily in credit when it comes to moneys received and given to the EU project.

  • Old Mortality

    RoC
    I think you should supply some evidence for that assertion.

  • Republic of Connaught
  • Reader

    Republic of Connaught: Ireland has paid 42% of the total cost of the European banking crisis. Repeat: EUROPEAN banking crisis. So we’re easily in credit when it comes to moneys received and given to the EU project.
    Firstly; Ireland hasn’t “paid” any such amount – it’s mostly glaring at the bill and waving it at Merkel. If Ireland actually does manage to pay off the debt it still won’t be “easily in credit”, because it’s just bailing out the debts of its own banks and not giving money away to other EU members. Apparently that’s Germany’s job.
    And since the money borrowed by Irish banks was lent to Irish citizens and residents, under regulation by the elected Irish government, to fund an Irish property bubble facilitated by the Irish tax structure, making the Irish population very smug about their Irish tiger; it seems a bit unfair to try to get Germany to pay for it.

  • Barnshee

    “And since the money borrowed by Irish banks was lent to Irish citizens and residents, under regulation by the elected Irish government, to fund an Irish property bubble facilitated by the Irish tax structure, making the Irish population very smug about their Irish tiger; it seems a bit unfair to try to get Germany to pay for it”

    Don`t be obtuse— its the duty of the EC /Germany to fund Irish salaries and standards of living. The dreaded Brits are also there to soak up Ireland’s excess population and the resulting unemployment problem. How dare you expect “Ireland” to solve its own problems

  • Barney

    Barnshe wrote
    A sad little rant

    But never mind we will not mention the IMF bailout in the 70s or the US bailout in the late 40s……….

    The entire tone and content of this piece is very typical of the OP as far as I can see. There is no basis in reality for this assertion, Ireland is a European country why is it strange for Irish people to have some sort of affinity to their continent?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Reader:

    I’m hoping that’s feigned ignorance of the situation. The bond holders have been paid billions at the Irish taxpayers’ expense. The bill has been footed – by Ireland, through the insistence of the ECB. We’ll be paying for the money given to the unsecured foreign bondholders long into the future. That’s Ireland remember, not Germany.

    “because it’s just bailing out the debts of its own banks and not giving money away to other EU members.”

    No, actually it’s bailing out European banks who recklessly lent the reckless Irish banks easy money to lend to greedy developers. Many of whom blew it on property gambles in England not Ireland – up to £16 billion in the UK alone; hence why NAMA owns so much property in London. What had Irish developers spending borrowed european money in London got to do with the Irish taxpayer? Nothing, of course. But the Irish taxpayer is paying for it.

    German banks et al who lent poorly to Irish banks should have been forced to take the losses for their bad loans – that’s the essence of capitalism. Do you disagree?

    In a speech delivered in Dublin in April 2012, ECB Governing Council member, Jörg Asmussen, admitted it was “to ensure no negative effects spilled-over to other Irish banks or to banks in other European countries.”

    Perhaps you should try to read more objectively about it and take the blinkers off.

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/ireland-business-blog-with-lisa-ocarroll/2011/apr/28/nama-flooding-london-property-market

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/seamus-coffey-so-how-much-has-been-paid-out-to-unsecured-unguaranteed-bondholders-in-the-irish-banks-26889017.html

    Barnshee,

    Obtuse apparently sums up your grasp of the euro crisis. But considering you’re bailed out every single year by your English masters, I don’t suppose one should expect children to know much about the adult world.

    Which is why what Norn Iron unionists think of the EU is utterly irrelevant; the English people will decide whether the UK is in or out of it. Your opinion is meaningless.

  • Barnshee

    “Obtuse apparently sums up your grasp of the euro crisis. But considering you’re bailed out every single year by your English masters, I don’t suppose one should expect children to know much about the adult world.”

    Again ignorance prevails – exactly who is being “bailed out” in N Ireland – the protestant population (2.2 children per family) or the roman catholic population (6.6 children per family ) ?

    How do you think the much heralded “triumph” of the roman catholic population overtaking the protestant population has arisen?

    I further invite you to close scrutiny of where the money is actually spent -(hint try Health Education and social security) – then come back and confirm EXACTLY who are being bailed out by “english masters”

    “Which is why what Norn Iron unionists think of the EU is utterly irrelevant; the English people will decide whether the UK is in or out of it. Your opinion is meaningless.”

    ? What has this got to do with it?

    Your reply infact confirms my original point-

    its the duty of the EC /Germany to fund Irish salaries and standards of living. The dreaded Brits are also there to soak up Ireland’s excess population and the resulting unemployment problem. How dare you expect “Ireland” to solve its own problems

    The ROI borrowed the money
    It should pay it back

    Check the GB phone book the– ROI has dumpted its surplus population on the UK for generations

  • Barnshee

    ROC
    ” European banks who recklessly lent the reckless Irish banks easy money to lend to greedy developers. … But the Irish taxpayer is paying for it.”

    The Irish taxpayer elects funds and speaks thru governments thats the way you do it – democracy I think you call it –Governments control and regulate banks (or not)

    You are “correctly” paying the price for the actions of the Government you elected- What? –you didnt elect them –too bad -its that old “democracy” thing again

    Tax payers the world over are forced to pay for things they don`t approve (I don`t support the war in Afganistan part of my taxes fund it -there is SFA I can do about it)

  • Tochais Síoraí

    @ Barnshee ‘…..Check the GB phone book the– ROI has dumpted its surplus population on the UK for generations….’

    As someone who seems to have a knowledge of genealogy perhaps you tell us where around half the surnames in the Northern Ireland phonebook come from??? (er…not the Irish ones or even the arrivals in the last decade)

    BTW what’s the source for that 6.6 children per catholic family and 2.2 per protestant??

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Let me expand a little more for you , Barnshee, no Irish surname features in the top 20 in the UK, or if you want to break it down in England or Scotland or even London whereas the most common surname in NI is Wilson, followed by Campbell. In fact, 6 of the top 10 surnames in NI are of either English or Scottish origin.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Barnshee:

    No, the Irish state DIDN’T borrow the money. The Irish state was solvent. It was the Irish banks and their European travellers who lent the money to developers who went bankrupt. The Irish state was forced by the ECB to stand behind those busted banks and take on the debt of the developers. That was wrong, in any state, and has been declared such by economists – Irish, American and British – all over the world.

    But we’ve had to pay those billions to save European banks. Hence we are fully in credit with the EU project. In their own words Ireland ‘took one for the team.’ Because they knew very well we could have done an Iceland, and put two fingers up to the busted bankers.

    “Again ignorance prevails – exactly who is being “bailed out” in N Ireland – the protestant population (2.2 children per family) or the roman catholic population (6.6 children per family ) ?”

    How revealing that you immediately resort to the sectarian card. I was speaking of Northern Ireland as a state being bailed out every year and you resort to sectarian finger pointing. A real inclusive Northern Irelander is Barnshee.

    “Check the GB phone book the– ROI has dumpted its surplus population on the UK for generations”

    There are nearly as many New Zealand citizens in Australia as Irish citizen’s in Britain today. That’s the nature of migration between close neighbours of the same language and broader culture. Nothing surprising about it at all. Except you won’t hear Aussies talk about New Zealanders being dumped on them – they’re much more mature than the average bigoted Ulster caveman.

  • Reader

    Republic of Connaught: No, actually it’s bailing out European banks who recklessly lent the reckless Irish banks easy money to lend to greedy developers. Many of whom blew it on property gambles in England not Ireland – up to £16 billion in the UK alone; hence why NAMA owns so much property in London. What had Irish developers spending borrowed european money in London got to do with the Irish taxpayer? Nothing, of course. But the Irish taxpayer is paying for it.
    The Irish Government had a choice – support the Irish banks or watch them fold. Note the word ‘choice’. The consequence of watching them fold would have been pain for European banks, but utter disaster for Irish savers, wiping out the very people who will need to pull Ireland out of its mess.
    I don’t think that the fact that Irish speculators borrowed money from Irish banks to engage in property speculation in London is going to get anyone off the hook – NAMA holds the property in lieu of debt on a rather higher sum of money which it wishes it had instead, and are hoping the price rises again. The ‘M’ stands for Management, which is better than a Fire Sale.
    As for the stupidity of banks in other European countries lending to Irish banks – they possibly thought these were well regulated honestly run financial institutions operating within the regulatory framework of a developed nation. But they know about PIIGS now.
    And the “Irish taxpayer” is paying for decisions made by the Irish Government elected by the Irish voter; just as they profited from those decisions when times were easy. Similar arrangements exist around the world.

  • SDLP supporter

    McSlaggart/Republic of Connaught are talking a fair bit of nonsense:

    1. The fact that Ms De Brun purportedly speaks French and German does not ipso facto make her nor Sinn Fein pro-European. SF campaigned against Common Market entry, have been on the ‘No’ side on every single one of the Irish referendums and for decades its policy was to leave the EU. Of course Sinn Fein’s stance on the EU is now changed but you will search high and low on their website to find the exact point when they did so because that ‘reverse ferret’ would be similar to, but not as earth-shattering as, Gerry Adams finally admitting he was in the ‘RA and that he has been lying to us for the last four decades.
    2. The Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan, is a Eurosceptic: for that, read rabidly Europhobic. He also speaks perfect French and Spanish. Speaking second or third languages do not make you committed to the European ideal.
    3. The vast bulk of the short-term money that flowed into the Republic in the years prior to the bank collapse came from the UK, not Germany nor any other EU country. In fact, in 2008, the last year of the party, the ratio was 40:1 as between the UK and the Eurozone. There’s no point in blaming Merkel for our woes.
    4. The decisions of a democratically-elected FF/PD government in the teeth of the banking crisis were, for the most part disastrous, and the actions of the late Brian Lenihan were fatuous. If we want to blame anybody, start with ourselves and then we can move on to others. We should start with the government of the time, which has paid the price to a degree, move on to the Central Bank, its Governor, John Hurley, the Financial Regulator, Pat Neary, the head honchos in the Department of Finance, then the boards and top management of the big banks, Gleeson, Goggins and all. Put them on trial, for financial misfeasance, take their pensions off them, reduce them to penury for the harm they have inflicted on the Irish people for they have probably done more harm to Ireland than Oliver Cromwell ever did. Will it happen? To paraphrase the Bailey brothers ‘Will it f*uck’. As Shane Ross has said, collectively they were Wasters.
    5. We should as a nation grow up and take some responsibility for the decisions of those we elect to act on our behalf. Remember Lenihan’s bullshit about ‘the cheapest guarantee ever’ and ’restoring the (privately-owned at that stage) Bank of Ireland and AIB to their former glory’ which it was no damned business of an Irish government so to do?
    6. Whatever about the merits of saving BoI/AIB there was absolutely no case for bailing out Anglo Irish Bank, which was a piggy-bank for out-of-control gombeen Irish property developers. Anglo had no systemic importance whatever, in fact it was the worst bank in the history of western capitalism and guaranteeing its bond-holders cost the Irish tax-payer €29 billion.
    7. In the days following the giving of the bank guarantee, 29 September 2008, without consulting the EU or anyone else and taken on their own initiative, Ahern, Lenihan and the rest of them were gleeful that they had pulled off a great stroke and never dreamed that the guarantee would be called in. Can you understand why the ECB, IMF and the EFSF and the rest of the Euro institutions thought to themselves “Well lads, if you want to play silly buggers it’s big boys rules now…”? I’ve no love for them but I can see why they decided to pay hard ball.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Reader,

    There was no ‘choice’. The ECB forced Ireland into the bailout on its terms. If the British government told NI unionists to accept a united Ireland next month or all funding to the province will be cut, is that a ‘choice’?

    The then state secretary at the German finance ministry, Jorg Asmussen, told BBC Radio 4: “It was made very clear to the Irish Finance Minister that it was not just about Ireland. The functioning of the currency union was at stake.”

    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/ecbforced-run-on-our-banks-led-to-bailout-26726481.html

    SDLP,

    3: German and French banks were the largest holders of Irish bank bonds.

    http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/bill-gates-was-bondholder-in-bailedout-irish-zombie-banks-29226533.html

    4: “The decisions of a democratically-elected FF/PD government in the teeth of the banking crisis were, for the most part disastrous, and the actions of the late Brian Lenihan were fatuous.”

    And were FF/PD not rewarded for their stupidity in the subsequent election? However stupid FF/PD were, it doesn’t mean the ECB were entitled to rail road the Irish taxpayer into paying billions of euro to unsecured bondholders. You do realise this is why the Irish bank bailout has been formally acknowledged even by Merkel as a “special case”.

    http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/debt-lifeline-as-angela-merkel-says-ireland-a-special-case-28822125.html

    5. “We should as a nation grow up and take some responsibility for the decisions of those we elect to act on our behalf.”

    Eh, have you missed the last five years of austerity budgets in Ireland? There is no other example in western Europe where any society has taken the financial hammer in the gut with such quiet maturity as Ireland. Most Europeans, including David Cameron, are amazed at how quietly we’ve shouldered the responsibility. So you’re talking nonsense.

    6. Yes, Anglo should have been allowed to sink into oblivion. But the ECB wouldn’t allow that once they realised the ramifications elsewhere in Europe. That’s why we ended up paying for it; not simply because of the crass stupidity of Lenihan and Cowen.

    7. “I’ve no love for them but I can see why they decided to pay hard ball.”

    They played hard ball to protect themselves. It was immoral to put that much bank debt on a population of 4.5m people. They did it because they could, not because it was the right thing to do. Which is exactly the psychology of a bully. No more, no less.

  • Huey

    So, all about money. Nothing to do with history. Penal laws anyone? Folk memory is a strange thing, going back generations.
    And the wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beasties of the North, still afraid of the Pope.
    No, its the economy, stupid. The Irish were never good with money, never having had any.