The EU’s most obedient colony

Ireland has debased itself with its uncritical cosying up to Brussels.

Brendan O'Neill

There’s a bizarre article in the current issue of The Economist calling the Republic of Ireland a ‘superpower’. ‘[T]he world’s most diplomatically powerful country’, no less, at least on a ‘per-head basis’. The piece points out that Irish officials now inhabit some of the highest offices in the institutions of global power. Ireland’s finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, is the new president of the Eurogroup, home of the Eurozone’s financial elites. In June, Ireland was elected to the UN Security Council. The former head of Ireland’s central bank – Philip Lane – is now a big cheese at the European Central Bank. And, of course, ‘the EU’s position on Brexit was shaped by Irish diplomats’. ‘How Ireland gets its way’, the headline says.

What makes this ode to Irish power bizarre is that the second part of the article, following all the rather creepy gushing over members of the Irish elite getting cushy jobs with the Euro-elites, makes it pretty clear that it is all a myth. Ireland isn’t a superpower, diplomatic or otherwise. Indeed, the headline to The Economist piece might say ‘How Ireland gets its way’, but the subheading halfway through the article – which transitions the reader from the guff to the reality – rather more mysteriously says: ‘Letting other people have your way.’ What? What this seems to mean is that Ireland ‘gets its way’ by actually letting other people get their way – especially people in Brussels, whom the Irish political and cultural elites seem almost cravenly keen to flatter and assist. There’s a word for a country that behaves like this, and it isn’t ‘superpower’ – it’s ‘colony’.

In the second part of The Economist piece we get to the truth of Ireland’s role in the European Union. Now the article refers to Ireland as a ‘star pupil’. Hold on, I thought it was a superpower? But actually it’s a well-behaved child? The mag of the capitalist class offensively judges Ireland to be a ‘star pupil’ because of how faithfully it has cut public services and reformed other areas of its economic life at the behest of the Troika – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – that bailed it out of its banking crisis in 2010. Ireland enacted economic reforms – economic reforms demanded by external powers, remember – with ‘masochistic relish’, says The Economist, making it a ‘star pupil’ in comparison with ‘other countries in a similar position’ (Greece, Italy), which ‘complained’. In the space of a couple of hundred words, Ireland has gone from being a ‘superpower’ to being an obedient, even masochistic enacter of foreign powers’ will.

What’s more, The Economist reminds us that Ireland is currently being hounded by European institutions over its corporation-tax policy. Ireland, in order to entice the big tech companies to set up their European operations in its territory, has a corporation tax of just 12.5 per cent, the second lowest in the EU. The European Commission hates this tax policy and has exerted extraordinary pressure on Ireland to change it. In 2016 it insisted that the Irish government collect €13 billion in back-taxes from Apple – something Ireland did not want to do. Just this month, the European Court of Justice annulled the EC’s demand and said Ireland did not have to pursue Apple after all. However, as The Economist makes clear, ‘A crackdown on Ireland… is still brewing’. The EU is even planning to ‘bypass [the] veto’ that each member state enjoys on tax policy in order to force Ireland to do something it doesn’t want to do: change its democratically instituted tax laws.

Some superpower. A country that cannot freely determine its own economic policies is not a superpower. A country deeply indebted to foreign forces (Ireland still owes an eye-watering €180 billion to the EU) is not a superpower. A country that the opinion-formers of the capitalist class can pat on the back for being a ‘star pupil’ because it has masochistically slashed its economic ambitions to please big banks in other countries is not a superpower. Such a country is not even truly sovereign. The truth about Ireland in the modern era is that it has allowed much of its political and economic life to be recolonised, to be bent to the whims and needs of an external power – not Britain this time, but Brussels.

It isn’t only the publication of the capitalist elite that is heaping praise on the obedient schoolchild of Ireland – so is the key publication of the liberal elite: the Guardian. This week it published an editorial describing Ireland as a ‘new nation’, and even saying that ‘an enviable beauty is born’ – a riff on Yeats, who famously wrote ‘A terrible beauty is born’ following the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule. Yet where Yeats’ ‘terrible beauty’ was a nation struggling for independence, the Guardian’s ‘enviable beauty’ is a nation that willingly sacrifices its sovereignty to multilateral institutions and is happy to be a supplicant of Brussels. The Guardian loves the ‘new Ireland’ because it is leaving behind its pesky old nationalist politics – nation states are so passé, don’t you know – in favour of being a ‘firm believer in multilateral institutions’ (‘unlike Brexit-deluded Britain’, the anti-democratic Guardian adds).

Like The Economist, the Guardian praises Ireland’s ‘immense’ diplomatic power, only to make clear a couple of paragraphs later that no such power exists. Modern Ireland is an ‘enviable beauty’ because it has ditched the irrational politics of nationhood, apparently. ‘Ireland’s old nationalist politics… have moved on’, says the Guardian: ‘Ireland is prospering by doing things more rationally and in ways that are firmly rooted in the state’s membership of multilateral institutions.’ So the politics that defined Ireland for near-on a hundred years – the politics of making a nation that is in control of its own affairs – has been superseded by the ‘more rational’ pooling of Irish sovereignty into global institutions which, to remind ourselves, can tell Ireland what to do. This is the end of the terrible beauty.

There is so much dishonesty in the discussion of contemporary Ireland. There are Orwellian levels of dishonesty at times. An indebted, bossed-about nation is referred to as a superpower. A nation that doesn’t even have full control of its economic future is referred to as having ‘immense’ influence. And most dishonestly of all, Ireland is said to be the author of the EU’s Brexit policy. ‘Ireland’s influence over the EU’s Brexit stance is immense’, says the Guardian. ‘The EU’s position on Brexit was shaped by Irish diplomats’, says The Economist. This is untrue, and everyone knows it is. In truth, the EU has used Ireland as a weapon against the British people’s democratic vote to leave the EU, marshalling Irish concerns to try to weaken Brexit and stymie Britain’s demand for greater independence. Ireland is best seen as a patsy of the European Union.

It is, in many ways, a tragic story. We recently celebrated the hundredth anniversary of Ireland’s First Dail, the parliament of the revolutionary Irish Republic that sat between 1919 and 1921. Before that we celebrated the hundredth anniversary of 1916. These were historic efforts to establish a properly independent nation. In the words of the 1916 hero James Connolly: ‘A free nation must have complete control over its own harbours, to open them or close them at will, or shut out any commodity, or allow it to enter in, just as it seemed best to suit the wellbeing of its own people… and entirely free of the interference of any other nation. Short of that power no nation possesses the first essentials of freedom.’ That isn’t Ireland today. Today’s ‘enviable beauty’ differs from the early 20th century’s ‘terrible beauty’ in that it lacks full control over its borders, its economic policy and even its political priorities, which for the past three years have been dominated by the EU’s anti-Brexit obsession.

Ireland has debased itself. It has sold off its sovereignty for some economic support and a few positions of influence in multilateral institutions. The Irish elite’s feverish support of pooled sovereignty and of the EU project more broadly is really a way of absolving themselves of the burdens of national independence and of disguising their continual failure to make good on the republican promise of 1916. None of this is openly discussed, far less critiqued, in elite circles in Dublin, of course. The level of Euro-conformism in Dublin’s political, media and cultural establishments is staggering. They even celebrate the absence of Euroscepticism in Irish public life as a sign of success, when really it confirms that free, open debate has been stifled in this obedient colony of the EU, where groupthink now rules. Ireland grew up a hundred years ago; it is time for it to do so again. Stop being a pupil and become the master of your destiny.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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Sid Falco

25th July 2020 at 11:42 am

Ireland went from being Rome’s “star pupil” to being Brussels’ “star pupil”.
They’re never happier than when they have someone to grovel to.

Sentient 6

25th July 2020 at 11:26 am

I lived in Ireland for 2 years. All this praise from the eurocentrics is out of place. Ireland is in a sad state of affairs. Ireland is like a miniature Britain, afraid of admitting that they barely have any cultural distinction from the British, poor and living in denial about their situation. It’s a beautiful country, wrecked by misplaced pride.

Gerard Barry

24th July 2020 at 11:11 am

This is a great article. I’m Irish myself and the Irish people’s love for the EU is at times baffling.

We are on the one hand an extremely nationalistic, even chauvinistic nation, yet EU skepticism is thin on the ground. We whinged to no end about the mass migration of Eastern Europeans from 2004 onwards, yet nobody seems to realise that this migration is a direct consequence of our membership of the European Union and its reckless policy of freedom of movement.

At the end of the day, I truly believe, the average Irish person’s apparent “love” for the EU boils down to money. For decades, Ireland was a net beneficiary of EU funds (this is no longer the case but I’m convinced most of the Irish don’t know this yet). Roads were built with European money and the farmers (who make up a higher proportion of the population than in most other EU nations) get their generous subsidies from Brussels.

The “star pupil” description is indeed patronising but is something I have heard myself from a German guy in a pub. I’m sure he meant it as a compliment but something jarred in me when I heard it!

Peter Gardner

24th July 2020 at 12:32 am

Before Varadkar the issues on the Irish border were being successfully worked out through the provisions of the Belfast Agreement. Then Varadkar won power and stopped that co-operation. I have long suspected that Varadkar did a deal with Brussels that in return for help with Brexit and bashing UK, Brussels would desist from taking further action on Ireland’s running a tax-haven. Then came the directives on tax harmonisation rendering that deal irrelevant, because Ireland would have to end its tax-haven whatever the outcome of Brexit. Apart from using the Irish border as its primary tool of leverage in the Brexit negotiations the EU was also keen to correct the impression that it did not protect small member states from the bigger members. The EU is rewarding Irish politicians and bureaucrats with senior positions – not least trade commissioner. Varadkar is no longer Taoiseach so off the hook and the EU can now proceed with tax harmonisation with the support of Irish people embedded in the EU. No wonder the ECJ can call off its dogs on the Apple case. Complete victory for the EU over Ireland. But an end to the tax haven will mean many companies switching out of Ireland to other low tax countries such as possibly Singapore on Thames – a prospect that terrifies the EU. It is essential now for UK to end all ties to the EU. Great rewards await UK if it succeeds in the final battles of the war against its own Remainer elites.

Thomas Laird

23rd July 2020 at 11:59 pm

A superb piece.

Unfortunately Scotland seems determined to join it’s Irish half brother on it’s knees on the steps of Brussels with its begging bowl out. The quisling scum of Sturgeon’s Notionalist Party rewarded for their betrayal by their EU paymasters with lucrative jobs.

Bastard Man

23rd July 2020 at 9:27 pm

Bloody hilarious. Ireland are the most pathetic rebels in human history.

Bastard Man

23rd July 2020 at 9:27 pm

Fucking hilarious. Ireland are the most pathetic rebels in human history.

Tom Culhane

23rd July 2020 at 12:08 pm

This piece has described the state of Ireland perfectly. Over the last few years I’ve become ashamed, as an Irishman, of our politicians endless deference to Europe, as if we had no worthwhile history, culture or character of our own.

Gareth Roberts

23rd July 2020 at 9:13 am

Irish nationalism was always based on resentment of the English. The Irish government of the 30s and 40s was noticeably more friendly to the Nazis than the UK. Now the Irish chattering class is happy to take orders from the EU and sneer at Brexit.

Jim Denham

22nd July 2020 at 11:52 pm

Well, we know that O’Neill hates the present Irish republic and its highly successful membership of the EU. What I’d be interested to know is whether Mr O’Neill agrees with his ex-RCP comrade Claire Fox, that Irish republican bombings of civilians (eg in Warrington) were to be supported, and that she hasn’t changed her view of that since? Please enlighten us, Mr O’Neill.

Jolly Roger

23rd July 2020 at 12:13 am

Absolutely nothing to do with this article. And I donlt hate the current Irish Replublic, but I agree with the thrist of this piece – they have gone belly up to Brussels. They are a disgrace.

Patrick O’Dowd

23rd July 2020 at 10:41 am

The hideous paddy-bashing comments you have posted only reveal you to be a hateful malice-riddled individual – and someone who is nowhere near as smart or as witty as he thinks he is.

Cathal Barry

22nd July 2020 at 11:43 pm

War is Peace.
Freedom is Slavery.
Supplicant is Superpower.

Gareth Edward KING

22nd July 2020 at 10:17 pm

It seems to me that the Irish elite especially in Dublin is woefully out of touch with the ordinary Irish. Either that, or the Irish’s pro-EU stance is a way to make themselves more ‘anti-British’ and to set themselves apart from their former ‘masters’. Once the Irish see that we’ll be ‘fine’ outside the EU, Covid-crisis notwithstanding, what sense does it make for them to be in the EU? Unless Irish unity is to be achieved, but what would be the point of that if the Six Counties then re-join the EU? The cost to the Irish state of taking on Northern Ireland’s debts makes this possibility highly unattractive in any case. But I can’t see the present arrangement lasting long. It would make greater sense that Irish unity if it were ever to be achieved, took place outside the EU and that Ireland took its rightful place in the ‘Anglo-sphere’ which is where it belongs.

Tage1959 Tage1959

22nd July 2020 at 6:18 pm

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Tage1959 Tage1959

22nd July 2020 at 6:15 pm

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Percy Blakeney

22nd July 2020 at 6:14 pm

“When in doubt, blame the…”

There’s more than a touch of sour grapes to this article.

Capitalist propaganda aside (The Economist, a mouthpiece of London capitalism if ever there was one!), the key difference between contemporary Ireland and the UK is that while Ireland KNOWS its a tiny fish in a pond of very big ones, and adapts accordingly, the UK IS a rapidly shrinking fish in the same pond that refuses to accept reality.

The Irish wanted Britain to remain in the EU as their friend and ally. In fact, Brexit is deeply disappointing from an Irish perspective, given the vastly improved relations between all the peoples on these islands (the Good Friday Agreement, the recent visit of Her Majesty). The Irish also know however from long experience that if threatened by irrational bullying from the house next door, it’s best to keep on good terms with the bully’s bigger neighbour (and now, bizarrely a needless rival) in the next house up.

Moreover, Brendan, if he read the history of his ancestors would know that there has long been close connections between the Irish and Europe, arguably longer and deeper than those between mainland Europe and England. The same is also discernable interestingly if one was to analyse the history of Scotland.

As an Irishman, there are many issues I don’t agree with in my country, and some are indeed touched on above, but an ‘Exit’ to some unobtainable golden age is not the answer. Brexit is a destination with no winners, not the EU, not Ireland and definitely not for the UK. Its a needless mess born of misplaced pride and a stubborn refusal to accept the long term consequences of empire (after the party comes the hangover).

The mess that is Brexit can be made to work I’m sure, but it will more than likely be on terms that are not going to be happy ones for all concerned. Look to your own house first Neighbours. If there’s one thing that the Irish know that the British don’t, it is how to survive (and even thrive) while under the eye of Big Brother. You taught us well!

A good place to start might be, when in a tight spot (which the UK currently is in) try not to add insult to injury with long, insulting screeds at those who are you’re genuine friends and neighbours.

Patrick O’Dowd

22nd July 2020 at 7:09 pm

The “bully’s bigger neighbour” is an organisation of nation states many of whom are similar sized to Ireland and have had similar experience of being dominated by larger neighbours, the Austrians and Dutch by the Germans, the Belgians by the French, the Eastern Europeans by the Russians etc etc. Thus when Ireland looks for allies there is an empathy.
The EU never wavered in their support of Ireland. The DUP by contrast were thrown under a bus by BoJo and the Tories whilst attempting to be a small sidekick of a big bully.

Jolly Roger

23rd July 2020 at 12:16 am

Yeah, yeah, yeah – alright Pat, what a crock. You stay on your belly…I guess you must have grown use to it.

Jerry Owen

23rd July 2020 at 7:22 am

Yes the Irish know how to survive.. mass migration into England was one way!

Garreth Byrne

22nd July 2020 at 5:43 pm

During my working life I have been an internationalist, having worked in Africa and Asia and promoted development education at home. That doesn’t make me an admirer of the EU institutions and decision making processes. I like many cultural and economic benefits that EEC/EU membership has brought to my country since 1973, but I see the dependency caused by the ECB influence on Irish fiscal policy. I know that the industrial revolution which occurred in Ireland since the early 1960s has largely been led by FDI (foreign direct investment). Some semi-state bodies that existed before EEC membership aimed at import substitution were a cause of national pride, but EU trade policies and globalisation gradually closed down their operations. Agriculture and food processing enterprises are the one sector of indigenous industry that continue to boom, although sectors of this have been acquired by USA and other foreign companies in recent decades. The economy is vulnerable to decisions made in boardrooms far away. Intellectual life in Ireland is largely derivative, with academic and other thinkers taking their cue from trendsetters in North America and Britain, especially England. Any continental European influences on Irish thinking are overshadowed by the Anglo-American hegemon. Sadly I find myself agreeing with several points made in Brendan O’Neill’s article. It is possible for the Irish to be cosmopolitan and outward looking without being smiling cap doffers.

Patrick O’Dowd

22nd July 2020 at 7:01 pm

Some inaccuracies here.
Import substitution was never going to have a chance simply because the Irish market was always far too small for there to be sufficient economies of scale to compete with most import. Far from being a source of pride, many semi-states were inefficient and loss making and a drain on the Irish taxpayer. There is a limitation to how long one can sustain uneconomic enterprises if something can be made cheaper and more efficiently elsewhere.

The ECB works in the arena of monetary policy not fiscal policy, and its been urging the member states to apply fiscal stimulus having exhausted the possibilities of monetary policy. I would also point out that prior to the EU and the euro, Irish monetary policy was obliged to shadow the UK’s over which it had no influence. With the ECB it has a seat on the board and a voice in decision making.

Small countries being vulnerable to decisions made in distant boardrooms is a just a fact of life of the modern globalised world. There is no means of turning back the clock on that. The UK too is impacted by decisions taken by Amazon, Facebook, Nissan, Airbus etc which it mostly has to live with.
Your last two sentences are totally contradictory. If you think continental European influences on Irish thinking are overshadowed by the Anglo-American hegemon, isn’t that a reason to disagree with BoN?

James Knight

22nd July 2020 at 5:29 pm

I thought it was Brexiters who had imperial delusions about the UK. Where’is Fintan O’Toole when you need him? Is aware of the delusion that Ireland is a “superpower”?

Ellen Whitaker

22nd July 2020 at 4:53 pm

Have to admit it’s hard for me to understand how Ireland could fight so valiantly against England, essentially win, and then give it all up to the EU. The EU and Ireland are in a sort of honeymoon period right now (2nd honeymoon period?), but it’s hard to believe that this will last, and hard not to fear that Ireland’s economy will ultimately be undermined permanently by the euro, and by EU regulation. England and Ireland have so much in common, but neither side seems ready to forget the past. Ireland thinks that EU membership elevates it above England (remember Varadkar mocking England as a “small” country following Brexit), and the English remain defensive about their history in Ireland, and almost eager to insult the Irish whenever they get the chance. Still, I’m sure that there is still euroscepticism in Ireland, and I can’t see the EU/Ireland honeymoon lasting forever.

Patrick O’Dowd

22nd July 2020 at 6:40 pm

Your notion that the EU is some sort of replacement for the British as a colonial power is totally idiotic.
The EU is an organisation of nation states who’ve clubbed together to create a free trade zone and tackle economic and related politic issues in which they have a common interest.

Jolly Roger

23rd July 2020 at 12:27 am

You;’re right there – the EU will never be the equal of British Colonial Power, Pat lad…that’s for sure.
800 years and counting. We still have your 6 counties and the Brussels has the rest…Is that what success looks like in Ireland? I guess so.

Paul MacDonnell

22nd July 2020 at 4:46 pm

I don’t agree with all of this article. But it is a very well written and very cogent. Spiked’s has soft spot for historical Irish republican violence and uses it to embrace a teleological interpretation of events like the 1916 rising. Though this is not really material to the article’s point. For the record, Yeats: ‘Terrible Beauty’ referred precisely to violent nationalism. If Ireland becomes united which I’m sure Brendan supports then it will need to completely abandon the romanticization of the IRA from the early 20th century and rewrite Irish Protestantism back into its own history. Brendan would be a better analyst of Ireland if he anticipated this and wrote about it as if it had already happened.

One thing Brendon is missing is the role of corporations in determining Ireland tax policy. Successive Irish administrations tend to govern the country as, themselves, colonial masters or intermediaries. They say to global corporations “come and establish yourself on our (industrial) estates and employ our peasants. You and your shareholders will pay 12.5% tax whilst our peasants will be taxed at millionaire rates.”

People who are claiming, on this comment section, that Brendan doesn’t understand Ireland are clearly wrong. I ran an economic think tank in Dublin for a number of years and in his article I recognise somebody who recognises Ireland very well even if I don’t agree with everything he says. Keep it up, Brendan!

Jim Lawrie

22nd July 2020 at 5:18 pm

What you describe used to called screwdriver operations and they started immediately Ireland joined The EU.

Constantine Sotiriou

22nd July 2020 at 4:14 pm

Ireland. Subservient to the EU. Ruled by Silicon Valley.

Barry O’Barmy

22nd July 2020 at 4:19 pm

….and the Pope…

Mor Vir

22nd July 2020 at 4:32 pm

Hardly – see the recent referenda. WM had to step in to liberalise the six counties.

David J

22nd July 2020 at 3:55 pm

The ROI is hardly a superpower where defence is concerned.

The Irish Air Corps has no interception jets, the Royal Air Force having provided air cover to escort intruders out of Irish airspace.

Ed Woods

22nd July 2020 at 3:35 pm

What a silly article from a man with a serious negative attitude towards Ireland. A majority want to remain in the EU and are well aware of the pro’s and cons. When those change they may also change their mind. I am sure Brendan will be their first call for advice. The Economist article is more accurate, the truth somewhere in between.

Melissa Jackson

22nd July 2020 at 3:52 pm

The Economist article says Ireland is happily taking orders from the EU. So yes, it is accurate.

Patrick O’Dowd

22nd July 2020 at 4:45 pm

The Economist article does not say that – you misrepresent it.

Jerry Owen

22nd July 2020 at 3:54 pm

Ed Woods
The referendum was a UK referendum not an Irish referendum what about that do you not understand? I am astonished at either your deceit or stupidity, either way it’s not a good look.

Andrew Mawdsley

22nd July 2020 at 6:07 pm

Ed. Brendan is Irish. Also, who cares what the Irish think. They had their own referendum overturned by the EU then refused to do anything about it, so tough titty to them.

Patrick O’Dowd

22nd July 2020 at 6:30 pm

He’s not. He’s of Irish ancestry but is basically English through and through and totally does not get Irish politics which is vastly different to the UK. This article reeks of someone projecting the worst English Brexiteer myths, phobias and mis-information on to Ireland.
The rare Euro-sceptic in Ireland would never write an article with this tone and style.

Barry O’Barmy

22nd July 2020 at 10:02 pm

Patrick O’Dowd
Ireland is a piddling, irrelevant little country, while Britain is the 5th largest economy in the world. We don’t need Ireland, but Ireland sells almost ALL its exports to Britain, so be careful or we’ll stop doing so.

Jolly Roger

23rd July 2020 at 12:29 am

Correct – the Irish are on their belly. Paddy here is comfortable with that…

Patrick O’Dowd

23rd July 2020 at 10:23 am

Posting so many angry disgusting comments only demonstrates that what Ireland does matters a lot to you. Your attempts to denigrate it as a “piddling country” are a total phoney.

Britain is now the 6th largest economy (just overtaken by India) and a very distant weak sixth compared to USA, China or the EU-17. The UK will inevitably slide down the rankings of the largest economies as the century continues. Population explosions elsewhere and technological and economic catching up will result in many other places becoming more important.

Barry O’Barmy

22nd July 2020 at 3:35 pm

Indeed Brendan. The EU just used Ireland and its immigrant homosexual PM Varadkar against Britain. Ireland was used merely as a temporary weapon against a country daring to leave the ‘wonderful’ EU.
As for the Guardian—I bought that paper for more than 60 years but will never do so again. Its entire ethos has changed and it is now a ‘woke’ mouthpiece with journalists (actually junkalists) with foreign sounding names. They extol the ‘virtues’ of homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism, Islam and any other minority interest that comes along, including BLM. It is reported to be broke and is begging readers to give it money, while supporting only minorities. Fat chance!!!

Patrick O’Dowd

22nd July 2020 at 4:51 pm

You’ve got a lot on your mind.

Barry O’Barmy

22nd July 2020 at 9:56 pm

YOU don’t have a mind to have anything “on”, you’re just another ignorant Paddy.

Patrick O’Dowd

23rd July 2020 at 10:27 am

Barry O’Barmy
Behaving like a disgusting obnoxious scumbag is counter-productive. It only suggests that the people to whom you are posting replies have valid points, which is why you are so bitter and angry.

Gerry Mander

23rd July 2020 at 5:39 pm

Patrick O’Dowd

You need to stay in the bogs where you belong and learn some history. Your rotten, disgusting fellow Irishmen supported the Nazis yet we have always remained a friend to Ireland, God knows why. It should be allowed to sink into the Atlantic….

Patrick O’Dowd

22nd July 2020 at 3:25 pm

This is an extraordinarily bitter resentful article from Brendan O’Neill – maybe he should have gone out for a walk after reading The Economist piece instead of banging out this piece of vitriol. It’s piece of vitriol that demonstrates his total ignorance of, and lack of understanding of Ireland, and he repeats a long old list of distortions, mis-readings and bad analysis.

The hapless British have degenerated into a global laughing stock pursuing a Brexit project driven by myths and phobia for which there was no manifesto, no plan for how to execute Brexit and no strategy for a post-EU economy. But Ireland’s international reputation and standing has soared and Brendan O’Neill just can’t stand it.

It is actually true that much of EU policy on Brexit and in particular in relation to Northern Ireland was as a result of Irish lobbying. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote whilst the British were scrambling around figuring out what to do, Enda Kenny’s Govt embarked on a diplomatic offensive around the European capitals and in Brussels and were very successful.
What BoN fails to understand (or should I say, doesn’t want to) is that the EU is an organisation of small and medium sized nation states each of whom may come looking for the support of the rest of the bloc at some point, and not backing Ireland is a precedent that could rebound on any of them at some point. BoN notably fails to contest the Economist’s points about what the bloc means for smaller members.

Ireland fully realises the limitations of independence for small countries, even more so in a globalised technology driven world. Irish independence was never about cutting itself off, it was about Ireland taking its place amongst the nations in the world. It had been excluded from gatherings such as Versailles, Congress of Berlin, Congress of Vienna over the centuries, and it now has its seat at the EU, UN etc where it can make its case, canvass for its stances, make friends and allies etc.
The UK is also a small country but one that hasn’t adjusted its mindset post empire. Recent events re the USA and China only demonstrate that alone its being pushed about.

Melissa Jackson

22nd July 2020 at 3:45 pm

When you say “Ireland fully realises the limitations of independence for small countries” you set up two opposed and mutually exclusive poles – Either you can be independent, including all the “limitations” ; or you can be not independent, and gain some perks, but also not be a sovereign nation.

To say that Ireland understands it is “limited” by it’s own freedom is to say that Ireland believes it is incapable of international competition, and unwilling to try.

Here is a question for you – Should Canada join the USA? Canada is a vastly smaller economy, and population, and lives next door to a giant one. So should it even bother making it’s own laws? Wouldn’t it be more economically advantageous to just not bother?

Canada has been able to work with the EU, and other nations. Canada is still able to be it’s own nation, without raising someone else’s banner, despite it’s many disadvantages.

So, why can’t Ireland do that? Why can’t Britain? You identify Britain as “small” when it’s a top ten global economy, so where does “small” begin?

It is insulting to say “Well, we aren’t number 1, so we need to band together under a weird federal dictatorship losers Club” . We can do just fine. We always have done before.

Patrick O’Dowd

22nd July 2020 at 4:43 pm

Wow, you’re as hysterical as BoN! Its about having a realistic view of the modern globalised technology driven world and a country’s place in that.
The fact is that in the modern world countries are inter-dependent. Economic events in another place over which one has no control or influence will have a major impact. As time passes and technology advances this is ever more the case. There is nothing that Ireland can do to control Facebook, or the UK for that matter, but a club of 27 member states together will matter.
Mark Zuckerberg went to Brussels to meet with the bloc (a meeting that Nigel Farage was desperate to get into) but only sent a junior underling to meet a Commons committee. Ireland can have a seat at the table discussing EU wide digital policy in a body representing a populations of 450m that has genuine clout, where Britain (pop 66m) is too small to have any clout.

A small country like Ireland (or the UK) cannot realistically produce everything it needs itself and will have to rely on imports. And to make things economically with sufficient economies of scale they have to produce for an international, barrier free market, which is why the EU single market matters. This involves negotiation and compromises often difficult ones – and the EU is nothing more than a 60 year accumulation of these negotiations and compromises. The UK has basically run away from all this and then tries to have its cake and eat it – wanting to hang on to the trade access without the obligations and trade offs.

Canada is in NAFTA and knows that many thing that are decided by the Federal Reserve or Congress will impact them, which they can’t control. Pre-EU that was the situation Ireland was in, monetary policy was effectively decided by the Bank of England over which they had no say. With the ECB Ireland has a seat on the governing body.
There are many other things domestic in nature, cultural, educational, health, community that doesn’t involve Canada throwing the towel and becoming part of the USA.

There are just 2 big economies, the USA and China, everyone else is small. The UK is just a sixth of the Chinese and a seventh of the Americans. The EU club creates a bloc who’s members can bargain on equal terms with the Chinese and Americans.

Calling the EU a federal dictatorship is totally demented, irrational talk. It’s an organisation of nation states and the marathon summit demonstrate that its the nation states that call the shots.


22nd July 2020 at 2:11 pm

‘A country deeply indebted to foreign forces (Ireland still owes an eye-watering €180 billion to the EU) is not a superpower.’ — So what? UK external debt is over 430 percent of GDP. At least the Irish understand that they are not, never have been, and never could be a ‘superpower’; unlike the English, who still haven’t climbed out of their f-ing Spitfires.

etidretni noinipo

22nd July 2020 at 3:35 pm

“UK external debt is over 430 percent of GDP.”

Utter codswallop. There isn’t a country in the world with a ratio of debt to GDP anything like that high. Britain’s is about 85 % by the way.

Barry O’Barmy

22nd July 2020 at 3:43 pm

Oh, dear—-Europe saved from Naziism by Britain and you still resent it because it demonstrated how useless European countries truly are. As for the dictatorial, undemocratic EU you love so much—-it is run by and for the Germans and you know it….

Patrick O’Dowd

22nd July 2020 at 4:50 pm

Europe was saved from Nazism by the Americans and Soviets how provided the bulk of the firepower and manpower which the Brits keep overlooking.

Barry O’Barmy

22nd July 2020 at 9:52 pm

Patrick O;Dowd
The US was not involved in WW2 until attacked at Pearl Harbour TWENTY SEVEN MONTHS after Britain had been at war with the Axis. The US did not declare war on the Japanese or Germans, THEY declared war on the US.
Russia was attacked by Germany in 1941 while Britain had been at war with the Axis since September 1939 and had defeated Germany in the Battle of Britain in August to October 1940.
Ireland was supposedly neutral, but in fact gave succour to the Nazis, harbouring their U-Boats throughout WW2 from 1939 to 1945.
Like so many Irish, you’re an ignoramus with NO knowledge of Modern History.TRY to educate yourself.

Dominic Straiton

22nd July 2020 at 9:54 pm

Patrick ODowd. The Americans werent in the war when the Soviets and the Nazis were allies in 1940. It was the British that saved Europe. The Irish were on the side of the Nazis just like the Scottish `Nazi party.

Jolly Roger

23rd July 2020 at 12:23 am

Yep, Europe was saved from the Nazis by the British. Paddy O’Dowd hates to admit that – after all, Devalera was in the pocket of the Nazis…The craven Republic backed the 1939 version of Isis.
We bought time at Dunkirk; we baought time at Narvic; we took out German Air superiority at the Battle of Britain outnumbered 8 to 1 in the air; our commandos and paratroopers took the war back to the Germans; our Army defeted them in North Afrioc and Sicilly and Italy – and Russia and the US were both very late the the f****g party.
Meanwhile, Europe itself spawned the Nazis and then capitualted to them, one by one.
Yes, the Btisih saved Europe – they saved western civioisation, be aise had we captitualted and not fought – the US would never have entered the war.

Patrick O’Dowd

23rd July 2020 at 10:33 am

Barry O’Barmy
Britain of course was losing and would have been marooned and isolated, without the Americans coming in to bail them out. The Americans through Lend-Lease were already giving a substantial leg-up before joining officially in the war after Pearl Harbour.
Its bad enough that you cling on to delusions of British Empire etc but relegating the Americans is total silliness.
Its time you stopped living in the distant past, banging on about Nazis etc and engaged with the challenges of the present and future for a small-medium country like the UK, which if Scotland leaves will become smaller still.

Patrick O’Dowd

23rd July 2020 at 10:39 am

Jolly Roger
All you do with comments like that is reveal yourself to be a unspeakably obnoxious, totally disgusting scumbag. The sort of individual any sensible person would cross the road to avoid.

Jim Lawrie

22nd July 2020 at 3:47 pm

When foreigners deposit money with a bank in The City, that is money owed by that bank. Privately. You erroneously label it UK external debt. It has nothing to do with the UK. Foreigners deposit huge amounts this way. British banks lend even more, 650 percent of GDP, to overseas clients. Those are classified as assets. Again, not UK assets. All private business. But I’m sure you know all this. Unless you are doing your usual and talking about stuff you know nothing of.

Melissa Jackson

22nd July 2020 at 4:02 pm

Whataboutery doesn’t help anyone. So what if the UK is a tin pot dictatorship mired in debt and desperation? That doesn’t impact whether Ireland is making good decisions.

Terry Tonn

22nd July 2020 at 2:05 pm

‘A free nation must have complete control over its own harbours, to open them or close them at will, or shut out any commodity, or allow it to enter in, just as it seemed best to suit the wellbeing of its own people… and entirely free of the interference of any other nation”

Yeah but we live in the 21st century now.

North Korea is the poster boy of fierce independence in that regard because ports in Miami or England are subject to so much more than just the whims of a handful of men who’ve taken it upon themselves to govern.

A government in England can’t simply wake up tomorrow and decide that “yeah well, we’ll close down Dover and the rest of the world can go f themselves if they don’t like it”

Here in the developed world, Gove and Cummings and Farage might decide they want to keep Britain free of foreign food, true, THE GREAT PATRIOTS, but they would be thwarted first by Brits themselves (consumers and businesses) and then by foreigners in one guise or another (EU, USA, WTO, China, Japan, Africa, Asia) and finally by the mundane shittery of food shortages and starvation.

Total independence for the Irish is like Brendan demanding mothers in England have total independence from the national grid so that “once proud” families can “finally get back to the natural order” and “not have to mess around with reading meters and direct debits and that.”

A working class truck driver in England needs more than English independence and 19th century speeches and a little flag on his twitter feed if he’s to earn a living in the modern world and he wants to drive white goods around Europe – he specifically needs a U.K. government that has successfully compromised with the governments of Europe. Bellowing “I’m independent, mate. Voted Brexit. No red tape” at customs won’t grant him access to the bits of the world that exist outside England.

Peter Anestos

22nd July 2020 at 2:26 pm

Oh yes, and that driver was doing SO well as British wages were driven down, jobs exported, and loads of regulations imposed by the expense-account potentates in Brussels, answerable to no one.

Terry Tonn

22nd July 2020 at 3:01 pm

Blaming the EU because bathroom sinks get transported from factories in Italy to the homes of Liverpool and the 47 year old truck driver notices that he’s not the only man in Western Europe who can drive HGVs.

Does England actually intend to make it illegal for young bachelors to drive trucks on the grounds it’s unfair competition for married men in their late 50s?

Have your trucking friends not heard of the “going global” but if Brexit yet? More African truck drivers on our roads, not less.

Barry O’Barmy

22nd July 2020 at 3:39 pm

Terry, presumably you’re bog Irish—–stay there and don’t dirty our shores please.


22nd July 2020 at 2:04 pm

Maybe BON (who, despite his name and origins now has very little Irish about him) and his Anglo friends would like to return the six colonised counties to the Republic first before lecturing the Irish on ‘freedom’ and ‘sovereignty’. The English have no right to comment on (much less criticise) internal Irish affairs given the 800-year history of English/British interference in the affairs of a neighbouring ethnos. In any case, if the Irish would rather be dominated by the EU (in which they have significant influence) then that is entirely their business. It is certainly better to be ruled by Brussels than London, as the Scots and Welsh are beginning to understand.

Tiocfaidh ár lá. Saor Alba.

etidretni noinipo

22nd July 2020 at 3:32 pm

“The English have no right to comment on (much less criticise) internal Irish affairs”

Bollocks to that approach. Have you had nothing to say about the George Floyd case because you’re (presumably) not American? Should all non-Chinese keep schtumm about the fate of the Uighurs for similar reasons? While you’re probably fine with half the world and his dog seeming to have a handy solution to the Israeli-Palestian conflict, and EU technocrats indulging in snide mendacious insults and efforts to derail Brexit since 2016? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (because repetition is good): bollocks to that approach.

James Knight

22nd July 2020 at 5:31 pm

“It is certainly better to be ruled by Brussels than London”

I guess the main thing is obedience and subservience.

Thomas Laird

24th July 2020 at 12:03 am

Just like it might be better to be punched in the face than kicked in the balls. Call me old Mr. Awkward. But I’ll go for neither. What a wierdo.

Jolly Roger

23rd July 2020 at 12:17 am

Nah, we should keep the six counties. Just for the craic…

Terry Tonn

22nd July 2020 at 1:42 pm

I’ll say this for our Brendan: he’s not at all shy or full of self doubt.

One of the most self confident men currently alive on the planet?

‘Today I’ll tell the people of Ireland what they must do. Then a spot of lunch.”

I suppose he would/could argue that all of Western Europe should be run by himself, with occasional time out so that he can provide governance to the people’s of north and South America.

I look forward to reading his specific instructions to the young of Japan, with 6 pages of “where you Japanese ***** snowflakes have gone wrong”


22nd July 2020 at 2:06 pm

Well said. BON’s ideas will go down a treat in Dublin. BON is a regular little one-man British Empire. Kipling, Kitchener and Rhodes rolled in one!

Thomas Laird

24th July 2020 at 12:01 am

Zenophobia Palmjob. You aren’t even real. You are a spoof like Titania McGrath. But keep it up. You’re highly entertaining.

Cathal Barry

22nd July 2020 at 11:45 pm

Well readers don’t want a writer sitting on the fence. If you’re going to write, best to say something.

Korina Wood

22nd July 2020 at 12:50 pm


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Deplorables — a spiked film