New York Times-Roger Cohen attacks the Irish electorate's rejection of Lisbon Treaty in "The Muck of the Irish"
The following are some excerpts from his article in the New York Times titled The Muck of the Irish (Which I rebut):
"…But when it comes to sheer electoral crassness, it’s hard to beat what the Irish have just done. I can’t think of a country that’s benefited from European Union membership more than Ireland. It has catapulted itself in a few decades from beer-soaked backwater to the Celtic Tiger whose growth rates, foreign investment and rags-to-riches story were the envy of every languishing small nation with a thirst for a makeover.
Enormous E.U. farm subsidies, access for foreign investors to the E.U. market, and the liberation from a Britain complex afforded by new European horizons all contributed to the rebranding of Ireland. Dublin was suddenly hip; the peat bogs were passé. No wonder the Irish adopted the euro with élan while the British shrunk from “the Continent” and stuck with sterling.
Yet here we have the Irish, in a fit of Euro-bashing pique worthy of the worst of little-Englandism, rejecting the renegotiated Lisbon treaty essential for the functioning of an expanded 27-member E.U. Biting the hand that feeds you does not begin to describe this act of bloody-mindedness………………………………"
To put it mildly this article is insulting and reeks of condescension and ignorance. It is written from a distance and is littered with half-truths. The use of the term beer-soaked backwater is a cheap shot. There is an element of the Paddy bashing about it often heard in British upper class circles. Sure Ireland has benefited from EU membership. Certainly we have access to the huge EU markets. Sure farmers have benefited from EU subsidies. This was not a vote to leave the EU. It was a vote for an improved version of the Treaty.
Cohen makes no effort to investigate possible causes for the defeat of the referendum. Rural Ireland revolted against the oppressive burden imposed by EU bureaucracy. Un-elected Commissioners have made decisions, which have severely worsened the quality of life in rural communities. Mountains of bureaucracy and quotas hamstring farming and fishing. EU agriculture Commissioner Peter Mandelson is viewed as a second Cromwell who is prepared to sell out EU farmers at the WTO. EU Commission restrictions on turf cutting proved the last straw for many. Rural Post Offices are closing because of EU competition rules in the postal service. Often the postman is the only visitor to the isolated homestead of an elderly person.
Fishermen watch as Irish waters are denuded of fish by EU trawlers. Ireland with 16% of the EU sea area has only 4% of the fish quotas. EU trawlers have taken at a conservative estimate €50 billion-€60 billion worth of fish. Some estimates are as high as €120 billion. Ireland is in all probability a net contributor to the EU.
Many small businessmen dependent on farmers and fishermen voted No. Other businessmen voted No fearing that the 12.5% Corporation Profits Tax is under threat. And it certainly is.
Working class communities in Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Dublin and other cities came out against the Treaty fearing that paid employment has become a race to the bottom under pressure from EU decisions on workers rights and immigrants. Others assessed correctly that the EU Commission is undemocratic. There are fears that the EU courts will legalise abortion in Ireland.
Also there is the fear that an EU army would compromise Ireland’s neutrality. Many female voters feared that their sons could be sent to war.
Stupid comments from some French and German politicians and from Jose Manuel Barroso angered the electorate. So you see Mr Cohen your diatribe failed to detect the reality on the ground. In short you are out of touch.