04 December 2011

The Rubicon Wasn't Much More Than A Stream

I wonder how often historic moments seem spectacularly dull at the time, gaining a sheen of significance only with hindsight. Enda's speech tonight -- only the sixth ever 'State of the Nation' speech by a Taoiseach -- was bland, clunky, and boring. It lacked the fire that filled his calumnies against the Vatican back in the summer, and as it ended I sighed and said, well, that's fifteen minutes of my life I'm not getting back.

Fifteen minutes of eerily still hands resting on the desk. Fifteen minutes of an ugly pink tie. Fifteen minutes of an Irish flag in the background so badly-lit that the white centre looked like an insipid grey. Fifteen minutes of a chair awkwardly poised so that part of it looked like it was missing. Fifteen minutes of Our Glorious Leader speaking to camera, grimacing slightly whenever something awkward had to be conceded, and tilting to his left time and time again for no discernible reason.

The only thing that made it bearable was the tsunami of hilarious #stateofenda comments on Twitter. Tweetdeck looked like it was going to explode.

And all, it would seem, to tell us that times aren't good, that though the government was making progress it wasn't doing so as quickly as it would like, and that Bertie Ahern would have to buy his own mobile phone from now on.

And yet back in the middle of it was the most important part of the speech, buried amidst all the guff. He began by telling us that the Government has a four-year strategy, which leaves me wondering whether they've just been winging things for the last few months, given they've a five-year term of office...
'The main purpose of this budget, and of our four year strategy, is the creation of jobs for our people. Jobs are central to this budget because work plays such a central role in our lives.  Work provides focus. Work gives us independence.  Work gives our families hope.'
... and then, after raving at length about jobs and the economy, and with a ridiculous aside about seeking to abolish the Seanad, which was a stupid whim which seems to have become political orthodoxy, he moved to the main mechanism he sees for ensuring our economic survival:
'However – In Ireland, an island nation – we cannot operate in isolation. We are part of the European Union. All the changes we undertake ourselves are set against the backdrop of continuing uncertainty about the future of the European single currency.

Let me be clear – Ireland supports stronger economic governance throughout Europe, and particularly in the Eurozone.

In fact, the Irish people are paying the price now for the absence of such rules in the past.

European leaders must make and – more importantly this time must implement – clear decisions this week to prove our shared determination to protect our currency. Otherwise, international confidence and investment in Europe will continue to fall.

In the ongoing negotiations in Europe, I will work to achieve a positive outcome for Ireland – one that ensures and protects our economic security.'
There you have it. Not our economic sovereignty, though that may come later, as Enda hopes to retrieve it. Not our economic self-determination. Not our economic independence. Our economic security: that's the real target, and to achieve this, Ireland supports stronger economic governance throughout Europe and particularly in the Eurozone. That's the heart of the speech.

Arthur Griffith was right: we can't call ourselves independent unless we're economically independent. The Department of Foreign Affairs was right too when we were looking to join the EEC: we'd had next to no economic sovereignty before we joined the EEC.

It's clear Enda's recognising the reality that our only hope of economic survival lies in some manner of fiscal union with our European partners, or at least the strongest of them. The thinking, clearly, is that global storms are too big, and only a big boat can save us. I think he's probably right. Europe may yet be our ark.

Of course, the small print will be all-important, but let's face it: what choice do we have?

1 comment:

Lynda said...

The principle of subsidiarity applies to our economic well-being as a nation. As long as this principle of human nature is flouted - at macro or micro level - our nation, local communities and families will continue to weaken through loss of an independence that is rightfully theirs. Ireland needs to become more economically independent and selfsufficient. Giving away our sovereignty to the EU has made us weak in many different ways. Where is our foreign policy? Why aren't we speaking out against the horrific regime in China and elsewhere? Why aren't we standing up for the millions of persecuted Christians around the world? Because we don't have a foreign policy or representation at UN, etc. anymore. Everything is done in compliance with our EU partners, and to hell with representing the Irish people honestly. Ireland needs to regain its independence, and redevelop our native agricultural, fishing and manufacturing industries, whilst developing technologies and aiming at a balanced competitiveness. Successive erosions of our sovereignty by each of the treaties amending the original treaty of Rome has made us weak, morally, socially and economically as a nation. It's time to start building our nation, communities and families again.