Incredible threats

This really is one for the textbooks.

62 replies on “Incredible threats”

The reaction of the political class, media and commentariat generally is also one for the textbooks.

What does it say about the level of debate in Ireland?

One chink of light; a faultless performance by Juge Kevin Feeney, Chairman of the Referendum Commission, broadcast on Morning Ireland just now.


+ 1

These type of gotcha moments and related trivia are always going to get undue attention.

Why are parliamentary proceeding in many countries now dominated by petty point scoring?

Maybe it was Freudian slip but maybe not.

Let he who has not sinned, cast the first stone!

“I’m retracting what I said. There’s nothing wrong with being honest.”

Retracting? In other words; was he initially being ‘economical with the truth’? Contempt for the citizen, or just plain stupidy?

@DOCM: “What does it say about the level of debate in Ireland?”

Our political, administrative, religious and business leaders DO NOT do debate. They harangue, threaten and diss their criticis. They rarely give a straight answer, and will spin, obfuscate and dis-inform at every opportunity. Moral behaviour and acceptance of responsibility are pussy stuff. If there are no public ‘consequences’ for poor behaviours, they thrive.

As the Corkies in the old Cork Opera House shouted to Gigli after his fifth encore – ‘You’ll keep doing it until you get it right!”
The mask has well and truly slipped and the ‘yes’ side would be better off admitting that in order to support the bloated spends of government we will need another bail-out,there will be no return to ‘the markets’, and that a ‘yes’ is an absolute necessity to keep a potential line of credit open.
Of course access to that potential line of credit is dependent on it existing in the first place – there may be no Euro or EU structures as we now know them in situ within twelve months!

Certainly the makings of a good test for students: translate Mr Bruton’s argument (or predicament) into game theory jargon. Extra points will be awarded for imaginative use of the concepts of subgame perfection, sequential equilibrium and mixed strategies. Sadly (or fortunately) I had finished my studies by the time this kind of thing came into fashion so I can’t make much of an attempt.

To me, Bruton’s revised position (there will be just one referendum come what may) is reminiscent of Harold Macmillan’s expression, “nailing one’s trousers to the mast.” That rarely ends well.

link provided by grumpy earlier op-ed

“France’s new administration is set to cause a major headache for the Irish government. Not only have they announced a 30% pay cut to the salary of their head of state and ministers, but they are insisting that the Fiscal Compact be redrafted to include a “chapter” on growth and growth strategy. This morning, the new French finance minister, Pierre Moscovici said the new French government would not ratify the existing Fiscal Compact. Of course the German position seems to remain a stubborn resistance to any change to the Fiscal Compact but you would have to say there is a good chance of some Entente between the two countries. Where will that leave Ireland?”

Compare the French leadership to defend the interests of French people to the leadership provided by our own embarrassing vassals. Simon Coveney TD, director of elections for the Referendum ludicrous campaign was on radio re Richard Bruton’s gaffe and again denied the substance of Bruton’s gaffe:

Not only have the present Govt failed to negotiate a responsible bailout for Ireland, not only have they chosen to hold a referendum that undermines the efforts of decent people to negotiate terms for a decent bailout be it based on ‘growth’ or other measure, not only do they wish us to ratify a Treaty that sells off our constitutional right to self determination, not only does it bind us to unconscionable and odious debt under sanction of ECJ, not only does it bind us to a Treaty that everyone in Europe expects to be binned, but, wait for it (I’m getting there ), this is a real howler

If the Treaty is not passed, and the FC is amended to contain substantial Hollande changes to its wording, or even minor protocol changes, the’ve made it so that the Irish people will be denied opportunity to vote even on a revised version of the FC?

I mean this is ludicrous nonsense and incompetence of the lowest order. Its almost as embarrassing as the mess they’ve made on negotiating substantial changes to our bailout

No doubt the propaganda machine will whip up more threats as time goes and the above is only the tip of the iceberg.

Are our politicians in contact with the real world? We are left with the dilemma deciding whether the present Govt are incompetent, or they are liars in which case they will hold a referendum again if we vote No.


I caught a brief announcement by the Referendum Commission, or so I thought, I’ve been since looking to verify this, which is, legally, they cannot cancel the coming Referendum once its been called, unless there is a change in government, I missed one other condition mentioned.

Leaving aside the fact that legislation can be rushed through in such emergencies, I’m wondering was this point mentioned by Judge Kevin Feeney this morning?

So Bruton said what we were all thinking and all know (and which some No campaigners are outright advising)? So much faux shock and anger. Sad but funny.

Some senior Ministers are performing badly in this campaign.

I like Richard Bruton but that was a silly mistake. If we vote No that may well be it. The opportunity to vote yes might not arise again. A lot of FG voters voted No to Lisbon first time around just to give FF a kick, confident that they would get a second run at it. With 65% dissatisfaction with the Government, Bruton was tempting fate saying we could vote again. His retraction was deeply embarrassing although one must remember there is a constitutional obligation to maintain cabinet unity.

Joan Burton also fared badly against Richard Boyd Barrett on Prime Time. I wouldn’t generally fancy RBB against JB but she made him look good. She seems to panic when debating against people to the left of herself. Her badgering of Barrett made her look like the bully he accused her of being.

Michael Nooonan’s “feta” jokes have already been mentioned elsewhere. They were grossly offensive to people committed to the ideals of European Unity and, to my mind, merit resignation. Ruairi Quinn is the obvious replacement.

Enda Kenny won’t debate the issues. That is pretty pathetic in a matter of such critical national importance. However, I don’t really blame Kenny as he is not a details man and there is a lot of disparate issues mixed up in this debate.

I don’t support this Treaty but I can see there are two sides to the argument. I don’t support FG or Labour but I would like my Government to be coherent, and I recognise that we should all be rooting for whoever is in power. For that reason, I hope this Government cops itself on pretty rapidly.

Ah come on guys, these things are bound to happen when so much dishonesty and disingenuousness is being employed by both sides – it’s probably to RB’s credit that he couldn’t prevent the mask from slipping.

This is a contest between Offical Ireland (and its hangers-on, eager to protect their bubble-era gains) and the ‘raid, tax and spend’ brigade who also want to hold on to their bubble-era gains and think the world owes them a living. More precisely it is a contest between those who enjoy power and privilege and those who enjoy some, but desparately want more. Both sides are adamantly opposed to the kinds of the reforms so badly required, but that would alleviate the misery of fiscal adjustment.

Most voters are innocent by-standers, confused by the surreal nature of this contest, angry at the cutbacks and tax increases, but fearful of the implications of voting no – and are likely to be collateral damage irrespective of which side wins. It has very little to do with democracy and nothing to do with securing genuine democratic consent.

The late Charles McCarthy in his book ‘Decade of Upheaval, observed that contrary to other European countries where bureaucracies were seen as anonymous by citizens, in Ireland the general fear was that the citizens were anonymous.

There have tribunals, reports, expert groups, review groups, external advisors, scandals, expenditure abuses, and yet political culture and its habits have not changed one iota.

I listened to Jill Kirby in a Newstalk debate on the Fiscal Treaty yesterday characterize political governance in Ireland as one of lions led by donkeys.

And as for reforms, pass me the banjo…

@ PH

“fearful of the implications of voting no..”

Actually voters should be more fearful of the implications of voting yes…but govt will not be handing out any 3d glasses, or any other aids you might need, to see this..blind leading the blind and all that.

According to the propaganda ads, FC is seen merely as stabilising our finances.

@ Bond

Re “So much faux shock and anger. Sad but funny.”

Its more ‘told you so’ but I agree with ‘Sad but funny’

Enda Kenny as Captain Smith on financial version of the Irish Fiscal Titanic ?

@Colm Brazel

The Referendum Act 1994 makes no provision for halting a referendum once the process has been initiated. Section 11 sets out procedures in the event that the Government is dissolved in the course of a referendum, as follows:

11.—(1) Whenever a Bill containing a proposal for the amendment of the Constitution shall have been passed, or deemed to have been passed, by both Houses of the Oireachtas, and Dáil Éireann is dissolved before the Minister has made under section 10 an order appointing the polling day at the referendum on such proposal, the Minister may (notwithstanding anything contained in the said section 10 ) by order under that section appoint the polling day at the general election consequent on such dissolution of Dáil Éireann to be the polling day at the referendum.
(2) Whenever a Bill containing a proposal for the amendment of the Constitution shall have been passed, or deemed to have been passed, by both Houses of the Oireachtas, and Dáil Éireann is dissolved after the Minister has made an order (in this subsection referred to as the original order) under section 10 in relation to the referendum on such proposal and before the polling day appointed by that order, the Minister may by order amend the original order by substituting the day which is the polling day at the general election consequent on the dissolution of Dáil Éireann for the day named in the original order as the polling day at the referendum.

Presumably the government, if it so wished, could introduce amending legislation to inset a provision in the 1994 Act which would allow the Minister to change the proposed date of a referendum to another time of his choosing within some defined period. But, politically, that would be very messy indeed.

Had a quick look at Kevin’s link to the IT earlier. Looked at the link again just now and, oddly, Coveney’s remarks appear to have been ‘clarified’ / ‘withdrawn’ / ‘retracted’ or whatever.

Dug around and this is the wording I read this morning, now


MINISTER FOR Enterprise Richard Bruton was forced to admit causing confusion by the way he “dealt badly” with a question during a debate on the fiscal treaty yesterday.

During a debate on the treaty hosted by Today FM, Mr Bruton raised the prospect of a referendum rerun in the event of a No vote.

The faux pas happened when the Minister was asked by debate host Matt Cooper if the Government had a plan B in the event of a No vote and what it would say to its EU partners.

“I suppose we will have to say that we will need access to this fund and I think Ireland will be looking to say can we vote again, because we will need access to this fund,” Mr Bruton said.

Asked if he was suggesting a rerun in the event of a No vote, Mr Bruton said: “I’m saying that we will have a crisis on our hands and we will face a really, really difficult situation in funding ourselves. That’s the reality.”

Later in the debate Mr Bruton said there was “no question” of a second poll in the event of a No vote on May 31st. Mr Cooper put it to the Minister he had said the opposite earlier.

“I’m retracting what I said. There’s nothing wrong with being honest. Government has made it clear that there will be no second vote and I just want to clarify that. This is a debate. We can all make mistakes,” said Mr Bruton.

In a written statement last night Mr Bruton tried to clarify matters further and admitted: “In the heat of a debate, I dealt badly with a question, and may unnecessarily have caused some confusion.”

Later Fine Gael director of elections Simon Coveney said that “under no circumstances” would there be a second vote on the treaty.

Responding to queries afterwards in the wake of Mr Bruton’s interview about whether the people may be asked to vote a second time on the treaty, the Minister said it was important people got a categoric commitment from the Government that the treaty would be put to the people on one occasion only – on May 31st.

“Irish people need certainty and the sooner they get it the better . . . this is a decision that the Irish people will make on May 31st and that decision will be final,” said Mr Coveney.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said Mr Bruton’s initial comments were “an outrage and an affront to democracy”.”

The new record of Coveney’s remarks from the paper of record is slightly less outrageously strident, but the position amounts to the same thing.

Is it a requirement for office in Irish politics to be devoid of common sense? There seems to be a pattern of giving away, gratis, options and flexibility the the state has in order to manipulate political outcomes…the bank guarantee, Croke Park, this.

“Simon Coveney said that “under no circumstances” would there be a second vote on the treaty.”

This effectively means that if the country votes ‘no’ whether postpone a decision until the details of the FC are clear or for some other reason, and if it turns out that the Minister for Finance was completely wrong in stating that it would be “ludicrous” for Ireland to consider preparing for another bailout, the government will go into a sulk and refuse to allow a future referendum to allow the country to ratify the amended or re-packaged Fiscal Compact Treaty.

How is that position defensible – and, ‘political optics’ is not a good enough answer.

“I presume the donkeys in Ireland are the ordinary taxpayers and citizens.”

Who are supposedly leading some lions? Makes no sense.

Later Fine Gael director of elections Simon Coveney said that “under no circumstances” would there be a second vote on the treaty.

I take it that’s what Kevin O’Rourke has in mind when he refers to incredible threats. If, to take an admittedly extreme scenario, a ‘No’ vote is followed by an IMF-EU-ECB demand for a 2nd vote, does anyone imagine that Coveney would tell them to take a hike?

@ veronica

tks, that seems fair enough to me 🙂

re “politically, that would be very messy indeed.”

Better to make mess cleaning up than having even bigger mess by not cleaning up.

I read (and heard) Bruton’s comments as saying that Ireland will need the money and that if we vote “no”, then Ireland – meaning the Irish public – will be clamoring for another chance to vote. Not that the Irish Government is planning another vote as a Plan B. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to say. He’s saying there is no Plan B unless you want to run the vote again. Now on the back foot, even this option seems to be getting ruled out.

“You’ll be back” is now “Don’t come crying to me”.

I assume there will be a yes vote. But in the event of a no vote what does one do.

1. Balance the budget immediately for 2013.
2. Have a second referendum to see if the country can get ESM funds.
3. Keep one head in the clouds and keep spending until the money runs out.
4. Put the begging in one hand, the flat cap in the other hand, and go from capital to capital begging for money to keep Ireland in the style to which she has been accustomed.

I would take the first option. Others may have a different opinion.

How come there is huge confidence that an ESM will actually exist?That a Euro will exist?That an ECB will exist.
Back to the link with sterling!

@ the alchemist, Kevin Donoghue

link there describes soldiers in the trenches of WW1 as lions and the generals as donkeys, makes taxpayers the lions and the generals, politicians, donkeys, …kinda makes sense to me .. moving on:-)

IMHO holding this referendum at this time is a serious tactical mistake by the government for two reasons.

1. France is insisting on inserting some element of growth policy into the treaty and has stated it will not ratify the treaty without it. We need growth desperately. If we pass this treaty we will weaken their position which is one, in this case, I assume we support. Germany will point to us and say the Irish have voted we can’t change the treaty ( well maybe a little protocol added to keep the French onside).

2. We are closing off our possible options far too soon. One should always keep as many options open for as long as possible before a decision is made. We have until December to ratify this treaty. Whats the rush? Events may overtake us and we could look very foolish indeed like our”the cheapest bank bailout in the world”.

@ Joseph Ryan

Can’t see whats wrong with 2. All we have to do to qualify for ESM is ratify the treaty. Or course there is no guarantee we will get any money whether we say yes now or in December.

We cannot have any more conventional “growth” / debt which would simply enrich the banks creating further instability as people would therefore not have the tokens in their pocket to use these new “shovel ready” projects.
Consuming even more resourses for a negative return.

Its a monetary failure – a debt failure.
But debt is merely a idea … it is not a physical product.

@ Brian Mercer

Successive Irish Governments have making ‘serious tactical mistakes’ down to a fine art.

The Government will, I agree, look incredibily stupid over the coming weeks and months as other EU ‘partners’ negotiate a few ‘bolt ons’ to this treaty – but that is to be expected because our Government can’t negotiate and Europe knows it.

Looking at people like Bertie Ahern and others from a diagnostic point of view, I often wondered about the quota of Borderline/Narcissistic Personality Disorders that occupy public positions in the highest ranks.

…also…. I disagree with the official position, by all means, we should have a second referendum in case of a YES vote, but occupy RTE before that second attempt.

Martin Wolf is worth reading in the FT today.

I think somewhere between catastrophic and Armageddon covers it….and we are not immune.

They are too pessimistic…..didn’t NAMA just sell 6 m of overpriced houses on a contingency basis.

““I’m retracting what I said. There’s nothing wrong with being honest”

There obviously is something “wrong” with being honest. What is wrong is you can loose your job very easily. That is why you retracted the truth. You were off message Richard being on message and the truth are entirely different things.

Mortgage arrears back on the agenda – not in Official Ireland which is still in lalaland over the scale of the problem – but elsewhere. Another reason to vote for the Fiscal Treaty to be hawked about.


re personality traits a new book by Jon Ronson called “the pyschopath test” (FYI – author of men that stare at goats) notes that statistically about 1 in 100 people are pyschopathic in a clinical sense (note that most pyschopaths are not killers or indeed ever break the law) but this figure rises to 4 in 100 when an assement of company CEOs was carried out. I have no evidence but would suggest at least a similar trait applies to those that reach high political office. There is a good chance therefore that there are at least 6 pyschos in the Dail at the moment and probably more than one them around the cabinet table!!!

Mr Kenny said there were many examples of the Croke Park agreement delivering in terms of new work practices, changed roster arrangement and greater flexibilities.

We have Greece about to exit the EZ if not the EU and Ireland, Portugal Spain and Italy are in the firing line and we are talking about changing rosters arrangements?

Does this imply we are in the front of the firing line….

“”Contagion Risks Are Trickier – In the run-up to potential Grexit, all eyes would likely be focused on the contagion risks to Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal (IIPS). With sufficient fiscal resources and an accommodating ECB, contagion to Italy and Spain should be manageable. We estimate the ECB would need to deploy up to an additional €800bn in liquidity to support potential deposit outflows and debt refinancing for the IIPS banks – the equivalent of a one LTRO and a half. ECB’s assets could rise to around 41pc of EA GDP versus 33pc today.”. ….Citigroup

@Frank Galton

The Spanish are canny…now you wouldn’t expect them to employ Blackrock Solutions and end up like us. The Squid knows how to obfuscate.

Michael Taft:

This economic debate is getting beyond the beyond. RTE reported:

‘Speaking at the Bloomberg economic summit in Dublin Mr Noonan said the Irish economy is in a much better position than it was this time last year.’

It now seems that in this debate you can say anything you want without any reference whatsoever to fact, truth, reality, veracity, accuracy. Just make it up, if it feels good run with it, say anything to fill some column inches and get on the Six-One News. The Irish economy is in a much better position than it was this time last year? Why not? Don’t let the following deter you. It’s only been taken from the Government projections last April and the Government projections this April.

Read on:

@The Giggler
This is what comes from trying to ‘suck up time’ from the NO participants … the truth, bitter as it may be, slips out. Bit like all ‘those directors of state boards being asked to resign within 6 months of your gove taking office’ – and the patronage continues … no change!

‘He [the Minister] also told a Dublin event that no other European country but Ireland would be able to pass a referendum on the fiscal treaty. “In all other countries people are concerned about growing inequality. In Ireland we need to keep focus on more important issues of corporate profitability and tax protection we offer international organisations. This is not the time for drastic moves to the left simply to suit populist demands for simplistic idealism of “social justice”.’


Wait til Blind Biddy read this one …..

He [the Minister Michael Noonan] also told a Dublin event that no other European country but Ireland would be able to pass a referendum on the fiscal treaty. “In all other countries people are concerned about growing inequality. In Ireland we need to keep focus on more important issues of corporate profitability and tax protection we offer international organisations. This is not the time for drastic moves to the left simply to suit populist demands for simplistic idealism of “social justice”.’

Wait til they hear this in Moyross and Southhill …. Regeneration How are Ya? and didn’t X-Minister William O’Dea order 20 million bullets during his time in office ….. JHC cubed!

A bugbear of mine is that the Govt say 25 countries have agreed up to the fiscal compact. However, it has to be ratified before you are tied in. Only 12 need to ratify it for it to go ahead.

Earlier in the week, Cormac Lucey interviewd on Prime Time said that the Eurozone countries would be better to cut loose the peripherary and identify a core which they can defend.

He identified the PIIGS as the country to be cut loose. That is five countries – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain.

17 eurozone countries less the 5 PIIGS leaves 12 countries. Is this a coincidence, or is this the reason for requirement fro a minimum of 12 countiries to sign up to the Fiscal Compact?


How many woudl be in this core?

@ DO’D

“In all other countries people are concerned about growing inequality. In Ireland we need to keep focus on more important issues of corporate profitability and tax protection we offer international organisations.”

Thanks Minister. 🙂 $$$$$$$$$$$

Could you imagine any businessman or banker coming out with that in public?

The dangerous thing is they may actually believe it – the whole fecking lot of them. Groupthink and all that……………

All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.

Noam Chomsky


““In all other countries people are concerned about growing inequality. In Ireland we need to keep focus on more important issues of corporate profitability and tax protection we offer international organisations.”

To paraphrase Mickey…..we don’t give a s**t about inequality ……we’re focused on multinationals and their ability to avoid taxes in their home countries.

Pr Guy could maybe do a better job of interpretation.

I see Fitch has downgraded the Central Bank of Greece to CCC.
Things must be really bad when your central bank is rated junkier than junk.

Speaking of incredible threats La Repubblica is reporting that Merkel advised the Greek president in a phone call that Greece should hold a referendum on euro membership on the day of the new elections.

A point of clarification. We have NEVER had a second vote on the same treaty. Nice II and Lisbon II were different from the “I” versions.

We have talked ourselves into a needless Referendum. In the past, a No vote was met by a fig leaf from Europe which allowed us to vote again on a “different” Treaty.

This time round Europe has likely lost its patience with Ireland but the fig leaf will come in the shape of some sop to Hollande. Definitely do not postpone this Referendum, we have been given a life line – a chance to vote at least twice on some sort of FC, a lucky chance which we didn’t deserve.


We should also screen the Dail for use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. No, that in the U.S. 1 in 10 persons are under the influence and with the diagnostic inflation ahead -DSM V- many more millions will become potential customers, now that’s what I call a business!

Seriously though, observing these muppets, not only in Ireland that is, too often it is darn obvious what for distorted personalities are behind the faked faces they hold into the cameras.

The health of nations is required to be written, the wealth of nations…, yeah well…

re – the Alchemist

– reuters ran that, too; I posted here as well; but a german govt. spokesman has said it’s a lie – somebody up to mischief, or a indications of fragmentation ?

@The Alchemist

“Speaking of incredible threats La Repubblica is reporting that Merkel advised the Greek president in a phone call that Greece should hold a referendum on euro membership on the day of the new elections.”

It’s just part of the PR campaign. Those driving it want Greeks to think that the next round of voting is a vote on staying in the Euro or not to get them to vote for pro-bailout parties.

I often wonder if Irish politicians still think like they did before achieving independence; the slavish obedience to insane foreign overlords is bizarre to say the least, and a contrast to Iceland, to Greece, or even to Spain or France.

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