THE PAST THREE DECADES
Politics…Economics and Social studies
26th October 2010
Irish Political culture has changed fundamentally in the past three decades
It would be reasonable to assert that the political culture in Ireland has changed radically over the past three decades. To explore this we must take into account that Ireland was a sovereign independent democratic country built on a Constitution that gave the Irish electorate control over its government representatives. This was carried out by means of democratic election. At this juncture Ireland has lost control of its national identity as a sovereign independent country, its fishing, farming, courts, legislation, taxes, currency and the selection of their own government and it will soon lose control of their police force and their army, transport systems, postal services and children if the wording of the proposed amendment is not changed. All of this has come about since becoming members of the European Union. After decades of being managed by a single independent government, elected by the Irish people, how has Ireland found itself losing control of so much? The Irish government signed a number of treaties on behalf of the people. As each treaty was ratified it has taken more and more control from the Irish government and passed it over to the government in Brussels. It is important to note that when power is transferred from a national government it can never be returned and it cannot be re-negotiated. Ireland joined the Common Market back in 1973 by signing the treaty of Rome. At this point electorate were signing up to a trade agreement as well as the Common Agricultural Policy. This means that since then the agricultural system has been controlled by a European government. Also handed over were the rights to the Irish fishing territory which meant that all of the other member states could, and still can, fish Ireland’s waters. The European laws concerning most areas of its citizens lives have become so rigid that Irish country men and women are being incarcerated for minor offences against the system. A good example is that of fisherman Charlie Mc Bride and his son Charles, both from Northern Ireland. They were found to have some fish on board that were not within their fishing quota. In this case both men were put straight into prison. Their assets were valued at £1 million (valued at the height of the boom). On this basis judge Nigel Gilmour imposed fines of £385,000 on each of them and ruled that all of their assets should be frozen as “proceeds of crime”. When Charlie tried to pay £120,000 off the fine he was told that he was in contempt of court as he got the money from remortgaging his house which was considered a frozen asset. Both men were since jailed. Fishermen are forced to throw up to 90% of their catch back into the sea even though the fish are dead in order to comply with European regulations. We now see citizens being taken to court and/or jailed for trivial issues such as leaving cardboard boxes behind them at bottle banks, dropping shop receipts on the ground, having no television or dog license, leaving their keys in the ignition of the car for a moment. You can see from Charlie Mc Bride’s case that under E.U. law your home, savings and all other assets can be taken from you if you do not comply with regulations. The Irish electorate were given positive stories about joining and remaining members of the European Union. On the surface it seemed a great arrangement for the people of Ireland. The government was able to borrow money at very favourable rates and there was plenty of money being channelled into industry and farming. The Irish population were not used to having so much money and it could be argued that the extra flow of cash in people’s pockets prevented them from thinking...