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A public enquiry is needed into how the Irish people have been turned into indentured debtors of the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF.
We need to know this if we are ever to recover. We need to know who was ultimately responsible for the situation we now find ourselves in, trapped inside the Eurozone when we did not need to join it.
EU Member States outside the Eurozone like Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic are not caught up in the current torments of the Euro. They can weather the economic recession better because they have kept their national currencies and with it control of their rate of interest or exchange rate.
Most Irish economists, the National Platform and several non-governmental groups warned at the time of our 1992 Maastrict Treaty referendum that abolishing the Irish pound would be the biggest mistake the Irish State ever made (John FitzGerald’s ESRI was an influential exception). The second biggest mistake – largely a consequence of the first - was the 2008 blanket guarantee of all the debts of our private banks
The period 1993 to 2000 was the only period in the history of the Irish State when it followed an independent exchange rate policy and effectively floated the Irish currency. That gave us a highly competitive exchange rate and with it the “Celtic Tiger” growth rates of over 7% a year.
It is impossible to have a lasting monetary union that is not also a fiscal union, part of one State, with common taxes and a common budget. However Ireland’s Euro-fanatics pushed us into the Eurozone against all the economic arguments. They were impelled by their zeal to help build an EU superstate led by Germany and France, without any national democratic control.
Such a construct would inevitably lack the mutual identification and solidarity between its members which would sustain transfers from the rich countries to the poorer ones sufficient to compensate the latter for loss of their capacity to run independent budgetary policies or restore their economic competitiveness through currency devaluation.
It was profoundly irresponsible to abolish the Irish pound in order to join a monetary union with States with which we did only one-third of our foreign trade, while simultaneously halving interest rates at the height of an economic boom.
That made things “boomier”, as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern put it. It set us on the borrowing binge that followed, and the catastrophic course Ireland’s Government has since taken with its Banks.
It is the grand panjandrums of Irish Euro-fanaticism: Peter Sutherland of Goldman Sachs, Garret FitzGerald, Alan Dukes, Pat Cox, Brigid Laffan, Brendan Halligan, Ruairi Quinn and David Begg, who ultimately impelled us to surrender our political independence and democracy in the Eurozone.
As influential, although their names are unknown to the public, are the “career federalists” of Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Department in Iveagh House, who form the policy and write the speeches of successive Foreign Ministers. They are keeping their heads down these days and are happy to let the Department of Finance take the rap for our current economic debacle.
However it is they more than any other element in Ireland’s civil service who have steered our ship of state on to the rocks. Cheering them on throughout have been uncritical elements in our media, above all in the editorial office of the Irish Times.
There is deep irony in the fact that their zeal for ever more EU integration has turned Ireland into a bomb inside the “infernal machine” of the Euro-currency, hastening its inevitable demise, and in the process possibly plunging much of the world into the second phase of a W-shaped recession.
Henceforth we should be more critical of what these people say when they enthuse for ever “more Europe”.
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