|Enda Kenny and Angela Merkel|
before this week's Irish-German spat
There is uproar in Ireland today following yesterday's revelation that last night the German parliament discussed an Irish government document on its budget for next year. Many people are outraged that our tax rates, welfare payments and other government expenditures were discussed in Germany's parliament before it was up for debate in Ireland's parliament. The Irish government is outraged that the document was leaked.
Why is the government so shocked? The shock is mostly contrived. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny tried a bit of the tough guy act in Germany yesterday and his German counterpart called his bluff. The budget document was leaked by the Germans as a way of letting Kenny know that he's not in control; they are.
I don't understand why so many others, especially in the Irish media, are outraged. Haven't these people been paying attention? We had to be bailed out back in November 2010. We're still beholden to those who bailed us out. Yet the media is acting as if the implications of the bail-out are a complete shock. The penny only finally dropped today.
"Germany is our new master" is the headline across the today's front page
of the Irish Daily Mirror.
Yet, Germany has been "our master" for more than a year. Ireland is not a sovereign nation. We have been giving away bits and pieces of our sovereignty for the better part of 25 years, but all pretense at being a sovereign nation evaporated last year when, essentially, we entered Chapter 11. That's the way it goes.
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The hard truth is our sovereignty is probably gone forever. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that in exchange for Germany committing to fixing the problems in the euro she is seeking a fiscal union
across the Eurozone (the 17 EU nations that use the euro). This is what triggered Kenny's tough talk - he told Merkel that her plans for a fiscal union were a step too far.
Yet as last night's leak makes plain, we have limited choice in the matter. If the Germans want a fiscal union, they'll probably get one. The only decision left to us at that stage will be do we want greater sovereignty and greater hardship or less of both? We will get a vote on it, but if we vote yes - as I suspect we will - that will mean the end of independence.
We will head towards the centenary celebration of the 1916 Easter Rising
against British rule knowing we spent roughly the first half of that century trying to achieve greater independence and the second half giving it all away again. By 2016 we will have completed a century long swap of British rule for German.