Politicus July/August 2004

Off the rails The weekly magazine International Freight recorded last month “We were somehow unsurprised to note that EU island newcomers Malta and Cyprus have won a place on the board of the new European Rail Agency — despite the fact that they haven’t a metre of railway track between them.” It is the kind of thing that happens in the EU, where Central European countries like Austria, Czechia, Hungary have a full say in managing Britain’s and Ireland’s sea fisheries despite the fact that they are wholly landlocked!

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Has Ireland lost its soul? There is a crisis in Irish society which leads some people to ask if Ireland has lost its soul, says Archbishop Sean Brady, Catholic Primate of Ireland Here are some things he said in a recent address that have struck an echo with many:

“There is a crisis of meaning in our midst and it has serious and practical consequences for individuals and communities.

There is a growing sense that such elements of the historic Irish soul as a deep sense of the sacred, a respect for creation, a sense of spiritual balance, of the importance of community, of hospitality, of solidarity with others, especially the vulnerable and the weak, and the importance of belonging to a specific people and place, are under threat on a scale and in a way unprecedented in the history of the Irish people.

"The evidence of this loss of spiritual direction, of this collective fragmentation of the Irish soul is evident in what are, in spiritual terms, various classic ways. It is evident in a loss of courtesy and respect in human relations, in an increase in violence and agression generally, in a loss of the sense of responsibility for and participation in the common good.”

All too familiar, one fears

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Ireland pays the price Ireland is now the most expensive EU state — and that’s official. People in Ireland pay more for food, alcohol and cigarettes than people in any of the 24 other EU countries. The latest EU survey of the cost of eating, drinking and smoking show that Ireland is 44% above the EU average A2003 survey of EU prices, including the 10 new EU member countries, found that a basket of food, drinks and cigarettes costs nearly three times in Ireland what it would in Poland, which at present is the cheapest country in the EU.

Only Norway and Iceland, outside the EU, charge higher prices for these products. is partly responsible because of the high level of indirect taxes, including 13.5% VAT on some foods,” he says.

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Vote No, No, No, Yes! The following report on former Belgian prime minister Jean–Luc Dehaene was carried recently in the Irish Times, under the heading 'Belgian PM to put EU Constitution to referendum':

“In a radio debate with prime minister Guy Verhofstadt yesterday, Mr Dehaene strongly criticised the idea of a referendum on an EU constitution in Belgium. 'We know that nine out of 10 people will not have read the constitution and will vote on the basis of what politicians and journalists say,' Mr Dehaene said.

“More than that, if the answer is No, the vote will probably have to be done again, because it absolutely has to be Yes.' Jean–Luc Dehaene was one of V.Giscard d’Estaing’s two vice–chairmen of the Convention on the Future of Europe, which produced the draft EU constitution. These remarks show the arrogance, sense of superiority and sheer contempt for democracy that characterise the members of the EU political elite who are currently seeking to impose an EU state constitution on its 25 members.

When the Danes voted No to the Maastricht Treaty in 1902, they were forced to vote again to make it a Yes. When the Irish voted No to the Nice Tretay in 2001, the government changed the referendum rules to get a Yes in a second referendum in 2002. Democracy EU–style seems to mean Vote No, No Yes. If a small country votes No it will be bullied by its own government and the other EU governments to change its vote a second time.

It seems that only if people in a big country like Britain, France or Poland vote No that their vote will be respected. Which shows the importance of the commitment to a referendum on an EU constitution that Tony Blair ha been forced to concede in Britain.

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2004-08-04 00:17:01.
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