August 2011        

Who’s this speaking?


“When we joined the European Union I was publicly opposed to it and I campaigned against it. One of the main grounds on which I campaigned was that we would be selling away for ever and a day our fishing rights . . . I put it to the minister that we can argue around the edges of this, but great damage has been done to our potential as a nation to reap a dividend from the fantastic resources we have. My understanding is that we have approximately 4 per cent of the fish available to us but 14 per cent of the waters . . .
     “One of the great questions raised all the time about the attitude towards fisheries in Europe is whether Europe is all about money and big companies or the people . . . I see the decimation that has taken place in coastal communities because they do not have access to their own resources, which are out in the bay beyond them . . . I do not share the view with my colleague that bringing the European Parliament into this would be of great benefit. We have only a small number of MEPs out of eight hundred . . . We have a unique opportunity now with the talks going on in Europe to put this back on the table and make it clear that we no longer accept it. If others wish to reopen things, we wish to reopen things, and this is a fundamental thing we wish to reopen.”

     Not an independent, Sinn Féin or United Left Alliance deputy but Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív of Fianna Fáil. Admittedly perhaps the imminence of the summer Oireachtas break and the lateness of the hour prompted this grandstanding for the stalwarts of the “Legion of the Rearguard” of Galway West; but his outburst did not pass unnoticed. His Fianna Fáil fellow-deputy for Wexford John Browne nervously threatened, “Wait until I tell the Cope what the deputy is saying!” and the lack of support from the Fianna Fáil benches was palpable.
     “The Cope” is, of course, Pat the Cope Gallagher, the Donegal Fianna Fáil MEP who has maintained a successful political career assiduously representing major north-west fishing interests within the EU Common Fishing Policy while perennially conning the less influential fishing interests with a mixture of bluster and sell-out.
     But despite the fact that the Ó Cuív foray passed unnoticed by the ladies and gentlemen of the Irish media, it did prompt an indirect response from one Fianna Fáil quarter: Martin Mansergh.
     Deprived of a Dáil platform by the voters of Tipperary South, Mr Mansergh had to make do with the letters page of the Sunday Business Post. Ostensibly taking issue with a piece in the same paper by Tom McGurk from the previous Sunday, he launched into an attack on “Eurosceptic influences” coming from the British press and even from some O’Reilly-owned newspapers!
     And his answer to those Fianna Fáilers who might share Ó Cuív’s worries? Surrender our economic and political future to Brussels, because if we don’t “we will end up again a home country in an unhealthy dependence on our nearest neighbour in Britain.”
     His political message: “We must do whatever it takes to maintain our position in the European core, and that to default or opt out or even take to the streets in the manner of Greece would not in reality provide a softer option.” And who does he invoke in support? Patrick Pearse, and even the Ulster Unionist leader James Craig. It is pure Walter Mitty.
     Ireland is at “the core” of the EU! Yeah, tell that to the birds.
     The big EU states have no desire to control the EU! So why the changes in the rules for EU lawmaking and decision-making introduced by the Lisbon Treaty that give Germany, France, Britain and Italy half the voting power in the EU Council of Ministers if not to ensure that?
     Having to obey laws made by others means being ruled by others. It is the opposite of being independent, sovereign, and democratic. As a member of the euro zone, Dublin has no control of either the Irish rate of interest or its currency exchange rate, which are the classic economic tools of all sovereign governments that seek to advance their people’s welfare.
     Mansergh’s line is the dominant one within the Fianna Fáil party. It would be one that is shared by Fine Gael and Labour. Ó Cuív’s is merely a “might have been.” There is no evidence that any elements within the party support it or would be prepared to mobilise around it.
     That is why the Fianna Fáil party is in terminal decline.
[CMK]

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