Former Bank of Ireland chief executive Mike Soden, now a leading member of the Irish government’s newly-established Central Bank Commission, has said Ireland should consider leaving the European Union if it renders the country unable to make decisions on its own fiscal policy.
Soden even raises the possibility that Ireland might need to break away from the EU, and become the 51st state of the United States of America.
"We might consider this option unthinkable, but 50 years ago we may have thought membership of a European Union or a United States of Europe to be impossible,” he says.
In his new book on the financial crisis, ‘Open Dissent,’ the 63-year-old banker say: "Just for a moment, let us question why our hands are tied at this time as a member of the EU.
"If we are in search of a solution and Europe finds it difficult to accommodate the needs of the Irish electorate, should we look elsewhere?"
He adds: "Our membership of Europe has to have balance in all aspects, particularly in relation to our culture, our sovereignty and the price we pay for economic and financial independence.
"Have we unwittingly surrendered these precious aspects of our society as the price of European Union membership?"
"The possible consequences of political and economic association with the US would be a massive influx of foreign direct investment, a link to the US dollar, a reduction in unemployment, and who knows, maybe an annual payment for a number of years to get our finances back in balance."
Commenting further on an alliance with the US, he says: "Surrendering our independence would never be palatable -- but that's what we have done through our membership of the EU.
"This may be the wrong time to put forward a negotiated plan that could result in a form of political and economic surrender.
However, if we cannot make a decision on the financial aspects of our economy without referring to the EU or the ECB, then we have done just that."
Soden admits that a break from the EU towards the US would be met with the "massive disapproval of our closest neighbours", and could "easily be met with disapproval by Uncle Sam.”
Soden was appointed by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to the board of the new Central Bank Commission for a term of four years, and while his views will surely be met with disapproval from the government, he did inform Finance officials of the publication of his book at the time of his appointment to the agency.
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