My Reasons for Voting No in the Irish Fiscal Stability Treaty Referendum of 31 May 2012

I don’t want more bailouts for banks. I want fairness for plain people. I am not happy with the proposed Irish constitutional amendment that would incorporate the ‘Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union done at Brussels on the 2nd day of March 2012’ in a new subsection. I have made a list of my reasons for voting ‘No’ in the referendum.

  1. I voted ‘Yes’ twice for the Niece treaty in Irish referenda, but I am not happy with the manner in which the European Union allowed Ireland to shoulder the burden of bailing out the Irish banks to protect the euro. I am in favour of the European Union, but as currently constituted, it is not proving to be sufficiently sensitive to the needs of individual countries such as Ireland. For instance, Germany, the strongest country economically, would like higher interest rates, which would have very negative implications for Ireland.
  2. Ireland should never have supported private banks that failed. The euro has benefited and the Euro Zone, as a whole, should carry the cost.
  3. It seems to me that the ECB failed to regulate the Irish Central Bank under the Niece treaty.
  4. A significant part of the sovereign debt recently taken on by Ireland was caused by dishonesty and corrupt transactions. This is not our debt – it should never have been taken-on by the Irish state. The fiscal treaty offers no relief or support.
  5. Even if the Irish ‘economy’ is doing well, the Irish people are suffering great hardship and unfairness. There is too much emphasis on supporting the euro and ‘the banks’ and not enough on supporting the people of Europe. The fiscal stability treaty needs to be modified to ensure growth and the welfare of the citizens of Europe.
  6. The Irish healthcare system is not meeting the needs of Irish citizens for health care. There are 20,000 young people who are not obtaining orthodontic treatment when it is needed. Many citizens have rather arbitrarily lost their savings or livelihoods through no fault of their own. These are examples of hard consequences of the Irish economic crisis and issues that are not addressed in any way by the fiscal stability treaty or the amendment to the Irish constitution.
  7. I am an engineer, not an economist. If Ireland, within the European Union, cannot provide jobs for its young people leaving education, the economic system is defective, in an engineering sense. Engineering principles require that all able and qualified members of society should be effectively employed to support society. The financial stability treaty will not address this fundamental issue.
  8. The EU is not working as effectively as it needs to and this treaty is not the solution to make it work effectively.
  9. The amendment currently proposed for the Irish constitution is not the one that I wish to see. Rather, I would wish to see an amendment to the constitution that would ensure that the Irish State would never bail out private banks that fail.
  10. I do not agree with the negative spin that is sometimes put on the consequences of a ‘No’ vote in the Irish Fiscal Stability Treaty referendum. Rather than triggering disaster, I believe that a ‘No’ vote would help to focus the attention of the European Union on the real problem that needs to be resolved. This is that the EU, with its various disparate bodies and centres of power, is not functioning effectively for the good of all the member states and citizens.
  11. I do not want bailouts for banks. I want fair play for plain people.
  12. In my humble opinion, the proposed wording is unsuitable for inclusion in the Irish constitution. It refers to a specific and very inelegant treaty that may well be modified or superseded in the short, medium or long term, necessitating another constitutional referendum and amendment in Ireland. If Ireland finds it ‘needs’ another ‘bailout,’ it may be better to look at other options. The current bailout is proving very painful and damaging for Irish citizens. It is hard to imagine how the citizens could sustain the burden of an even bigger bailout.
  13. 10% of mortgage holders in Ireland are now more than three months in arrears. This is a key Irish problem that is not being addressed by the Euro Zone or the EU and will not be ameliorated by the treaty. Most of those mortgage holders are ordinary citizens who find themselves in economic circumstances they could not reasonably have foreseen. The Euro Zone is focusing too much on the stability of the zone and the sectional interests of the strongest members, and not sufficiently on the stability and other needs of the individual states.
  14. In the proposed wording of the Fiscal Stability Treaty, the phrase ‘at market prices’ in Article 3 seems entirely inappropriate to me. It would be most unfair for the Irish people, or the citizens of other Euro Zone states, to be exposed to erratic and unpredictable market rates as a basis for being ‘compliant’ or ‘non-compliant’ with the stipulations of the treaty.
  15. The external enforceability of ‘compliance’ would be embedded in the Irish constitution, undermining Irish sovereignty.
  16. This treaty may well result in circumvention of the assurances given to Ireland for the second Niece Treaty referendum, with regard to its continued sovereignty and its freedom to set its own tax rates.
  17. World leaders currently, within recent days, want Greece to stay in the Euro Zone. I am confident that they will want Ireland in the Euro Zone too, even if Ireland needs a second bailout in the future.
  18. The severe, unfair and arbitrarily distributed suffering being endured by ordinary citizens of Ireland will not be alleviated by the treaty. For example, huge numbers of Irish citizens are having to abandon their private health insurance and fall back on ‘public care’ which is unsatisfactory to them. Highly qualified and educated young persons are being forced to emigrate. Businesses cannot thrive because of lack of demand and lack of availability of affordable working capital.
  19. The stability treaty formalizes an informal add-on mode of holding ‘discussions’ regarding the economy of the Euro Zone. To formalize informal meetings is highly oxymoronic. This latest addition to the Euro-speak phrasebook undermines the meaning of the English words ‘formal’ and ‘informal.’ Apart from that, it is an inappropriate appendage to the already cumbersome and inefficient management of the Euro Zone and the EU.
  20. Much has changed in Europe in the short period since the Irish referendum on the fiscal stability treaty was called and, as a result, the timing of the referendum is now unfortunate. One may guess that Greece will, or will not, exit the Euro Zone, but the consequences of Greece either leaving or remaining are likely to be profound for Europe and the euro. The stability treaty has not alleviated the Greek crisis, nor has it helped to prevent or stem the currently unfolding banking crisis in Spain—no more so than the Niece treaty helped to prevent or stem the economic crash in Ireland. The French electorate have indicated by their choice of president that they expect new approaches. Even in Germany, regional elections have gone against current economic policies. Now is not the moment for Ireland to embed the piecemeal stability treaty in its constitution.
  21. I am in favour of stability and fairness in the economic system, but I am not persuaded that this constitutional amendment will help realize either.
  22. Ireland is a sovereign republic. This status has been hard-earned. I am not willing to give up sovereignty in the manner that is proposed in the referendum. I am in favour of the European Union, but it needs to be more democratic. It needs to be a federal system with sovereign member states. If there is a single currency, which makes eminent sense, then the effective interest rate (including that for sovereign debt) must be common for all member states and the euro must be defended and protected by the European Union as a unit, not in a piecemeal manner by individual states.