By Catherine Connolly
The public is being asked to vote for the Fiscal Treaty on Thursday May 31 on the basis of misinformation and mistruths and fear.
Misinformation and mistruths: depending on the Government spokesperson, we are told - the treaty is simply about good housekeeping rules and had these rules been in place in the first instance the crisis would not have happened and/or the direct opposite that these rules are already there, which of course begs the question, if they are, why have they not worked?
Fear: we are told we have no choice and no alternative but to vote Yes, an approach which gives a new meaning to the word democracy and also to the word referendum which now apparently means only voting Yes.
The Yes campaign however utterly fails to clarify that this treaty is part of a Trinity, the first part we get to vote on, the second, a treaty known as the ESM, the Dail will pass in our names if the people vote Yes to the Fiscal Treaty, and the third part, an amendment to article 136 of the existing EU Treaties to give EU legality to all of this after the event.
Moreover, the treaty, in seeking to apply rigid rules in relation to government deficits and government debt is simply treating the symptoms rather than addressing the source of our financial problems.
Quite simply, Ireland did not have excessive public debt until we were forced by the EU and the ECB to take on the private banking debt which is owed primarily to German and French banks.
This treaty not only ensures we will be responsible for paying back those enormous private banking debts to the detriment of our people but also ensure the austerity measures, which have failed to date, will be permanently written into Irish law and cannot be changed.
Indeed, the treaty will tie the hands of any subsequent government for our life-time and that of our children and grandchildren - a complete undermining of our democratic process.
The treaty also provides for the most serious fines of [euro]160 million should Ireland fail to comply with the arbitrary and rigid rules set by the treaty.
Furthermore, we are told a Yes vote to this treaty is necessary to ensure money is available should we need it, through the mechanism of the ESM when that institution is set up after the second treaty is passed by the Dail.
Significantly, this second treaty, containing 48 articles provides for a whole new EU institution and level of bureaucracy known as the ESM which will be utterly above the law.
Articles 32/35/36 for example, specifically provides that the board of governors, directors, the managing director, and other staff shall be immune from legal proceedings with respect to the work of the ESM, its property and assets, and further that the ESM and its staff will not be liable to pay taxes in any country.
In addition as part of this treaty, Ireland will have to pay more than 11 billion euro with 1.27 billion euro of this sum to be paid within two years starting in July.
Significantly, Article 8 commits us ‘irrevocably and unconditionally’ to providing this money and Article 9 allows for the board to call the money in at any time.
Equally worrying is Article 15 which commits us to bailing out more banks in other EU countries and yet this treaty has not merited one word of discussion!
Finally, I have read the two treaties and the proposed amendment to Article 136 in detail and searched in vain for: (i) a single acknowledgement as to the real source of our financial difficulties, ie, a completely unregulated banking system that has been left free to speculate recklessly in the sure knowledge that the people will pick up the pieces and (ii) a growth and jobs investment programme which would deal with the almost half million who are unemployed and our appalling rate of emigration.
Given these facts, let us say No to a false solution that does not deal in any way with the banking crisis and let us make the Government go back and re-negotiate on our behalf for a solution that puts people first.
I would urge you to use your vote on this treaty as you will not get a chance to do so on the ESM.