"The leaders of Italy, France and Germany have insisted that Britain’s shock decision to leave the European Union (EU) will not kill the bloc," according to the journal this morning. The EU “is the answer” to Europe’s problems, for it cemented “peace, prosperity and freedom,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said.
So, there you have it. The reason we in Ireland are so peaceful, so prosperous and free is because we're in the EU. I think that bears closer scrutiny. The warring factions in our country were never approached by anyone from the European Continent. To my certain memory, Britain was told to sort it out and the Irish officials were told to shag off. Peace came about through the tenuous and painstaking work of people on the ground in Northern Ireland, the British and Irish Prime Ministers and the Yanks were dragged into it finally to get it over the line. The EU had nothing to do with peace in Ireland.
From 1973, when we joined the EU to about 1996, we had high unemployment, joblessness and emigration as an almost accepted fact of life here. Farmers were proportionally better off but that's about it. The Celtic Tiger of the 'noughties' was a home grown phenomenon based on a 60-hour weeks as almost standard and a huge influx of American capital through the multinationals citing themselves on the island. EU projects such as roadbuilding were co-financed by the EU and our local gombeens. It was during this time too that we became net contributors to the EU. Our biggest trading partners remained as the UK and the USA though we did buy big German cars in the good times.
And as for freedom, I have lost count now of the number of times our Government Ministers have stood up sheepishly to announce some unpopular law or tax only to throw up their arms in mild apology before explaining it was an EU directive. Far from freeing the Irish, the EU began to look like enslavement by a thousand cuts. When the worldwide meltdown came in 2008, the paddies were picked as the stooges. Under EU insistence, the Irish Nation of 4.5m people was saddled with 46 per cent of all the bank debt across the EU while 60m Germans were given a mere 12 per cent of it. That alone took away our personal freedom overnight.
I've said it before here, the EU itself never had anything to do with peace and security on the continent. NATO on one side was counter-balanced by Russia on the other and this alone kept ambitions in check. As before, the individual countries of the EU protected their own citizens their own way. What the EU is good at it though is meddling in our personal lives and chipping away at those freedoms we hold dear. They are good at stealing money from our pockets while paying themselves huge salaries and benefits. The EU is expert at waste and bureaucracy. The unease of the British public leading up to BREXIT was totally mis-handled by the EU and the aftermath of it is also being fucked up by the unelected Brussels brigade. They sent Cameron home empty-handed when he needed their help and now they appear to believe that sneering at the British for opting out is the best coarse of action.
So the Italian Prime Minister has it wrong on all three counts. To re-phrase his speech, the EU is out to take away our freedoms one by one, it is happy to sit back and let the Yanks bank-roll world peace, such as it is, and prosperity is an illusion as long as we are paying back the extraordinary bank debts accrued around Europe. Our grandchildren will still be struggling with that one when I'm long gone.
An hour after writing this I read a new article on the same topic by Ian O'Doherty in the Irish Independent. He fills in a lot of my blanks for me.