It is the Supreme Court, not the Government or its Attorney General, that has the power ultimately to decide whether a referendum will be needed in Ireland if Germany, backed by France, insists on changing the EU Treaties to suit its interests.
Little more than a year since the EU Heads of State and Government assured everyone that no further EU Treaty changes would be needed for the foreseeable future, the same people seem now willing to bow to Germany’s wishes to change the Treaties anew to give the EU more power.
If Treaty changes are agreed in the coming period, the Irish Government, and Attorney General Paul Gallagher SC in particular, will come under heavy pressure to avoid an Irish referendum at all costs, for fear it may be lost. If Mr Gallagher obliges he can almost certainly expect to face a re-run of the Crotty case.
It was Attorney General Gallagher who advised the Government in September 2008 that a State guarantee of all the debts of Ireland’s private banks was legal and that Irish law required that the creditors and bondholders of the Irish Banks could not be touched in view of such a guarantee. This opened the way to Finance Minister Lenihan paying €7.9 billion to the senior bondholders of Anglo-Irish Bank just three weeks ago, without any question of them being asked to take a “haircut”, as Irish taxpayers paid up to meet the money foreign investors had lent to Messrs Sean Fitzpatrick and Co.
Elements of the so-called “bailout fund” for the eurozone that was agreed by the EU Governments last May are almost certainly in breach of Articles 122 to 125 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. (NB. This is not the Lisbon Treaty, but rather the second of the two basic EU Treaties that were amended by Lisbon and which are currently in force.)
What we see playing out in the current economic crisis is Germany’s attempt, for the third time in a century, to dominate Europe by means of its dominance of the eurozone - with France holding on to its coat-tails, as the Vichyist rather than Gaullist tradition governs policy in Paris.
The Irish public should find it instructive to see the Eurofanatics and career-federalistas in Iveagh House, Upper Merrion Street, Kildare Street and the Irish Times positioning themselves in the coming period to comply anew with the wishes of their new Teutonic masters.
The Eurofanaticism that led them to support the Maastricht Treaty abolishing the Irish national currency and to join the euro-zone in 1999 – an area with which we did only one-third of our trade – is primarily responsible for getting the country into its present dire economic and political mess. It will be interesting to see their spin-doctors turn and twist as they try and justify their disastrous course over the coming months, and engage in the blame-game vis-à-vis one another that has already covertly started.
(29 October 2010)