Weekend Miscellany

Thanks for all the feedback on my last post. And thanks to the guys at IrishElection for linking in. Glad you found it worth a read.

Next up is Lisbon and NAMA. I suport both though with slight qualifications in each case. I think NAMA is going to work and work reasonably well and I’ll say why in a longer post over the weekend. Although I’m not entirely sure what will happen to our developer friends and the associated business interests and downstream dependents (e.g. Employees, Creditors) as NAMA does not appear to do much for them. They still owe a bundle on many worthless sites. On Tuesday they owed AIB 10M for a site worth 3M, On Wednesday they owe NAMA 10M for a site worth 3M. The difference is the rest of the banks (in theory) can then restart lending to ‘normal’ or at least more probably profitable business iniatives. Caveat emptor as regards the builders and the 3M sites but NAMA is not a panacea for anyone.

Lisbon, well I thought it was a good deal last year and still do, although I still have reservations over a second referendum so soon after the people voiced their views on the first one. Right or wrong, it does weaken the democratic process somewhat if you keep going till you get the ‘right’ answer. Does anyone seriously think we would be having a second referendum if the answer was ‘Yes’ last time? Otherwise the treaty still stands on the merits (I felt) it had last year. Housekeeping by and large and the union should be more streamlined and efficient as a result Lisbon coming into force . Ironically I felt it was an eminently sensible decision to reduce the number of commissioners, to form a workable group size, having said that it is hard not to be pleased Ireland will not retain a permanent seat at the table.

Also whilst there is nothing specific in the treaty either way, there is no doubt the outcome will affect investor confidence and international views on Ireland which are fundamentally important as we try to navigate our way into safer waters. Critics may point at FDI figures since last year but a second ‘No’ would be a bridge too far for that to continue. Also I feel most the naysayers are actually fighting a different battle. Many of them are opposed to the European project full stop. I even have sympathy for some of their arguments (soverignity being one) but that ship has sailed, it left port in the seventies and rejection or otherwise of Lisbon will not alter those issues.

 On balance the European project has been a profoundly positive experience for Ireland. Areas such as workers rights, an expanded market for our goods, greatly lessened economic dependency on Britain, progressive environmental legislation, funding from ECB for our banks and from Europe in general for our infrastructure projects, enhancement of Ireland’s strategic attractivenes ref EMEA and many other reasons all mean I will be voting Yes on October 2nd. More on this anon.

6 Replies to “Weekend Miscellany”

  1. Longman Oz

    On the matter of being asked to vote again, the following is an extract from something I wrote in the summer. You might find it interesting to consider.

    “…I do not have a problem with the principle of being asked to vote again either. It would seem to me that a free society should and does allow decisions to be appealed. Equally, a second referendum on the same amendment does not diminish the sovereignty of the people. Rather it demonstrates it. For the Establishment must ask the people again and if the latter wish to reject its request for a second time, then that is their prerogative to do so. Indeed, the fallout from such a second rejection would be quite costly for the main political parties, so it is hardly something that they are seeking with carefree abandon.

    Beyond this, our 26 partners in Europe have asked us to be sure of our position before the fallout of just one Member State rejecting the treaty is truly contemplated. Already, the continued enlargement of the EU has been put on hold until this impasse has been resolved. Hence, it is the act of a good partner to give serious consideration to any such request that is reasonably made of it and to respect its partners’ position as far as it is then reasonably possible to do so…”

  2. Longman Oz

    I perhaps should add that the difficulty for re-running the referendum for opponents of the treaty, in the event of a “yes” vote, is that the system is gamed against non-Establishment entities from being able to propose constitutional amendments. (There is also quite a debate to be had on that point for sure!)

    Equally, there is the decidedly dry point of what a “yes” vote would technically signify. As far as I know, the government has already signed the Treaty of Lisbon on our behalf, subject to ratification via our normal democratic processes. Hence, if the vote had been / will be “yes”, there will only be / would only have been a limited window anyway for “no” campaigners to react in before the treaty becomes legally binding on the country.

    For example, is it now just the Poles and the Czechs holding off on final technical sign-offs until the way the Irish jump becomes known?

  3. Des Groome

    I followed the last post to the bitter end and your analysis of Bertie was worth it.
    re Lisbon- The Yes campaign has its act together better this time.
    We cant even comtemplate rejecting it if one has any appreciation of global market forces. If we had a strong indigenous knowledge economy and sought after home grown export industries , a more closed economy , we might have the luxury of voting NO but we simply dont.
    My blog groomepetvets.blogspot.com has three articles about Lisbon one which was aletter to press ( locals printed it) which simplify the treaty and the YES side to a level that you could use on a doorstep. A summary of Yes reasons which I have circulated through the Chamber of Commerce network.
    Goood letter in todays I Times from Americal Chamber of Commerce.
    regards, Des

  4. C


    I’m really worried about globalisation. I read today that the Chinese tendered a motorway project in Poland, and won. They were 60% cheaper than the guided tender value. It was the first civil engineering project the Chinese have won in the EU. This is only the start of it.

    If this continues, the EU is shagged. Like, if the Chinese are undercutting the Poles on their own turf, what hope has Ireland?

    EU needs to start thinking up of some long term strategies to protect us from globalisation. I’m thinking of a few, but their not pretty.

  5. David W

    Ireland in the ’80s. Grim and despondent. Deficient in infrastructure. A few miles of motorway from Santry up to the airpoint, plus the Naas Bypass. Roads notoriously full of potholes which local authorities did not have the money to fill in. Even the buildings in and around Merrion St. owned by the government were in a very dilapidated state. Large parts of Dublin, along the quays, and up and around Gardiner St. and Mountjoy Square, were littered with vacant sites where buildings had been demolished but not replaced. Indeed much of the south side of Mountjoy Square was a half-completed pseudo-Georgian building open to the elements. Visitors from Britain would comment on how free from traffic were the roads outside Dublin. (They were also particularly impressed by the high standard of many of the Bord Fáilte-registered B&Bs. Ireland did get some things right in those days.)

    The National Finances were in an appalling state, with the national debt considerably in excess of GDP. The take from income tax was totally absorbed by interest payments on the National Debt. Many viewed the politicians who got the country into this mess with contempt and cynicism: plenty of “Angry Andys” around, though they were not in a position to vent their frustration on blogs and bulletin boards. The dogs in the street knew that there was plenty of corruption in local government, particularly where rezonings were concerned, and that many prominent individuals were not models of financial probity. But nothing could be proved, and the threat of the libel laws was effectively deployed to keep investigative journalists at bay. Main industries appeared to be the production of stout and biscuits. And Irish agriculture was producing vast quantities of beef which nobody wanted to eat, despite the best efforts of Larry Goodman and Liam Lawlor to flog it to Saddam Hussein, and to other countries in the Middle East, and to the Soviet Union.

    Well, as a quid pro quo for agreeing to enhanced European integration and the development of the Single European Market, Ireland was offered billions of pounds of ‘structural funds’ to bring its infrastructure more into line with that of continental Europe. New motorways were built, and roads and railways were improved, and public buildings rose up, thanks to these funds from Europe. Probably practically every visible item of public spending drew on money from Europe. After all Ireland would not then have been in a position to finance such things from its own resources, and it would have been irresponsible to drive up the national debt to yet more unsustainable levels to finance spending on public projects. But structural funds from the EU were of course earmarked for spending on, well, infrastructure. And so the public finances could be brought under control without leaving Ireland marooned in the doldrums of the ’80s. And, as we can now see, the policies of the IDA in attracting multinationals in pharmaceuticals, computer-related industries and the like enabled the growth of the Celtic Tiger economy. But I would suggest that, without the impetus to the Irish economy provided by the structural funds, the Celtic Tiger would probably have been stillborn. Would even the most favourable rates of corporation tax have induced multinationals to invest in an economy as moribund as Ireland was in the ’80s?

    People in Ireland should reflect on the debt we owe to Europe when deciding how to vote in the referendum on the Lisbon treaty. And clearly the forbearance of European institutions such as the ECB is needed if we are to emerge from the current financial mess. As I see it, those involved in the day-to-day running of the institutions of Europe see certain changes as, if not absolutely necessary, then at least highly desirable, in order to enable the institutions to function effectively whilst respecting the prerogatives of the sovereign governments and peoples. Obviously the woman on the street in Ireland is not in a position to evaluate the desirability or necessity of such changes in all their gory details. One needs faith in the collective wisdom of the governments and European institutions who propose such changes to enable them to cooperate more effectively. And, to reiterate, in deciding whether to accord such faith, people in Ireland should reflect on the support and assistance that Europe has provided in the past, and hopefully will continue to provide in the future. And they should consider whether objections raised by those opposed to the treaty are truly well-founded, and based on the text of the treaty.

    But I, for one, don’t have a vote…

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