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EU revenge on Ireland


Ireland’s brave refusal to ratify the EU Constitution was a step towards true national independence, but it means that all sections of Irish society – for example, Irish farmers – now have to face up to what independence entails. As the EU budget is launched, it looks as though they will lose all or most of their EU grants, and will be forced to become more self-sufficient.

That can only be good for Ireland’s future, but Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin is using it as a veiled threat that other sectors too will lose their bargaining power. Ireland is said to have ‘punched above its weight’ in negotiations with the EU. The truth is that Ireland was bribed with an offer of membership on favourable terms compared with Britain, for instance. Irish politicians were desperate after years of sectarian violence to get their country on a stronger economic footing – but there were always strings attached. The EU was equally desperate to have a compliant country close to Britain to hold up as a flagship member state.

Even greater pressure is being applied to the Czech Republic, which takes over the EU Presidency on 1 January. British MEP Andrew Duff said that the sooner the Czechs ratify Lisbon “the better the prospect for persuading the Irish to alter their mind”.