Boston Irishman in Irelandby Larry Donnelly
- Why reform is needed in the Irish Senate over abolition - realizing the Seanad's 'real potential'
- All changed in Boston as first open mayoral race in 30 years takes place - Irish and Italian candidates under pressure from new ethnic groups
- Ireland and abortion - A divided country, an depressing and ongoing debate
- The Boston marathon bombing - absorbing the horror in my home city from 3,000 miles away
- Why I hope Irish American Steve Lynch is the next US Senator from Massachusetts
We’re back home in Ireland after two glorious weeks in Boston and on Cape Cod. The weather was nice most of the time – interrupted by a day of torrential rain on the Cape and three days of uncomfortable heat and humidity at the end of the trip. It went by way too fast.
As always, it was great to spend time with my father. He’s 78 now, yet remains mentally acute and physically active. Indeed, we walked the magnificently well-kept Pope John Paul II Park in Dorchester almost every day, sometimes twice a day. We chatted at length about politics, especially the “good old days” in Boston and in Massachusetts when the Irish still ruled the roost, as well as the current state of play locally and nationally. On the day we set out for Logan Airport and the journey home, there was the heart-wrenching, tear-filled (for me, anyway) goodbye that emigrant children know all too well. But I’m one of very few for whom it happens on the western side of the Atlantic.
The title of political journalist Miriam Lord’s front page article in The Irish Times, “The nation gives one great big sigh of relief,” nicely encapsulates the collective feeling of Ireland’s political, financial and media establishments on the Yes vote in last week’s referendum on whether to join the European Fiscal Compact.
Backers of a Yes vote were definitely on edge after a steady stream of unofficial statistics and anecdotes about low turnout on voting day. Indeed, turnout was low. Just over 50% of the electorate showed up to the polls. But this time, unlike on previous occasions, the low turnout did not augur a No vote, or even a close vote.
The referendum passed by a margin of 60% to 40%. There were a number of factors at play that convinced people to vote Yes. Guaranteed access to funding via the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) in the event that Ireland needs to be bailed out again in future was probably the primary motivator. Putting access to funds for a bailout in jeopardy, notwithstanding the contrary protestations of the No side, was a risk that Irish voters just weren’t willing to take. This doesn’t portray a confident people. A clear majority now regards a second bailout as inevitable.