Declan Ganley - bogeyman of Irish politics & a leading
'No' campaigner on EU Fiscal Stability Treaty. 
Europe is in turmoil. Greece is heading for an ugly exit from the Euro, possibly from the European Union itself. The big European powers are at loggerheads as to how to solve Europe's massive problems and in the midst of all this the Irish people will be going to the polls on May 31 to vote on the EU Fiscal Stability Treaty.

The 'Yes' side is desperate for us to approve the Treaty. They're pleading; they're threatening. The Treaty is about "jobs;" it's about "stability." A 'No' will mean Ireland will be denied all access to credit (ie money) and we'll be kicked out of the euro. Basically they're saying that if we don't agree to the terms on the table our European "partners" will leave us battered, bleeding and slumped over in the corner.

The problem for the 'Yes' folks is that we've heard all of their positive gloop about jobs before. Nobody's buying it this time. The Irish people have finally and thoroughly removed the wool from their eyes: we were sold a pig in a poke starting with the Maastricht Treaty when we voted to join a currency we had no business joining. The Europhiles led us into this mess. Nothing positive they say now has any meaning. As for the menacing, negative stuff, well ... more on that in a minute.

The 'No' folks are the usual hodgepodge group of socialists, nationalists and others who are just fed up with the never ceasing centralizing of power in Brussels, outsiders all of them. In the Dáil (parliament) they comprise no more than 20% of the elected representatives, but when it comes to the EU they represent a far greater percentage of the electorate.
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The most "unofficial" leader of the 'No' campaign is businessman Declan Ganley. If anyone in Irish politics can be called a bogeyman, it's Ganley. He's scorned by the left - his allies in these treaty referendums - and he's scorned by the center and pro-EU right.

One reason Ganley is so distrusted and disliked by so many, is that he appeals to a large segment of the population and he never fails to turn up when it's EU referendum time. He never takes the unthinking 'Yes' for an answer.

Ganley is not among the group generally called "Euroskeptics," but rather he's a Euroidealist. Ganley believes in a federal Europe with democratic institutions. Ganley wants the Irish people to reject this treaty because it doesn't solve the serious economic problems we in Ireland and people across Europe face now and it doesn't address the democratic deficit at the heart of the European Union.

Ganley's right, of course, but he's also wrong. It's too late. The EU is doomed and voting 'No' in the hope that this is going to trigger the change Ganley hopes for is just pie-in-the-sky thinking. There is no appetite for a new EU, although it's badly needed. Those who founded the United States had the sense to revisit the Articles of Confederation and draft a new Constitution, but they didn't wait for 25 years to realize the error of their first attempt. The EU has waited too long and the Germans and other creditors have too much to lose fixing it now.

All of which brings me back to the menacing, negative stuff that is bubbling up in Brussels, Berlin and elsewhere in Europe. Ganley says voting 'Yes' is like buying a ticket on the Titanic. He's wrong about that. We're already on the Titanic. The only hope now is that sucking up to those who control the lifeboats will work in our favor when we hit the iceberg. Voting 'No' will not endear us to those people.

In the past when we voted 'No' to EU treaties we were told to go try again, like the Irish people were disobedient children being asked to leave the room and come back to the table in a mannerly fashion. That will almost certainly not be the case this time. This time we can't stop the Treaty, so if we vote 'No' it will only affect us. We may well be taught a serious lesson by those who now control the purse strings here. They may well tell us to leave the table, go to our room and not return.

I love the idea of voting 'No' and toughing it out, but we're in a very weak position right now. If we were actually cut loose by those calling the shots in the EU the hardships we currently face would seem as nothing. Civil disorder or mass emigration are possible in such a scenario.

If this were 1999 when we were riding high I'd be all in favor of telling the EU leaders where to get off. I've only once before supported a 'Yes' in an EU treaty referendum. I won't be voting 'No' this time, however. I'm definitely not in the 'Yes' camp either, but I am in the 'Not No' camp.

{Photo thanks to}