Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Question of Sovereignty

Different people have asked me about recent events and how the 1916 rebels would have perceived our sorry state. The short answer is: nobody knows. The long answer is: the world is very different to the one in which they struck for freedom, and we (still) enjoy vastly greater freedom in very many respects than they could ever have dreamed of. Though there is no doubt their successors, in terms of the current government, are not worthy of the name.

The sovereignty question is also over-simplistic. A home owner with a mortgage may have their name on the title deeds to their home, but the mortgage lender holds the deeds until the mortgage is paid. Since the first Irish bond was sold to the first foreign buyer our sovereignty has been 'compromised' since at least part of the taxes raised in Ireland have gone to pay the bondholders. But so what? North Korea is the only truly 'sovereign' state in the world: but I don't see it inspiring others to follow. Fintan O'Toole suggests that:
A simple rule of thumb for a sovereign state is that it – and it alone – makes its own decisions about taxation and spending. For the foreseeable future, Irish governments will not pass this test.
This is, of course, absurd. Alongside decisions about taxation and spending is the obvious matter of borrowing. No government in the world - not Germany, the UK or the United States - can make decisions about taxation and spending without any regard to the perceptions and reactions of others. Especially those they hope will buy their bonds. In today's global economy, every country's sovereignty is compromised.

But none of this is to detract from the enormous damage done to our economy, our society and our reputation by the appalling decisions of the present government and its predecessors. Our 'leaders' have been mugged by reality. Once they bound the financial viability of the state to financial insolvency of our banks then our choices, freedom and options for the future were fatally compromised. Our sovereignty wasn't taken from us, it was given away one bad decision at a time. The shame is on those who - through their actions and inaction - have brought this sorry state about.

But our sovereignty will be restored one repayment at a time. Much like the home owner who eventually repays his mortgage and finally receives the title deeds to his property. There is more involved than debt repayments of course. The 1916 rebels understood the importance of leadership, vision, sacrifice and hope: and we should be inspired by their example to move purposefully towards a better future that restores the freedoms lost by their unworthy successors.

Image credit: BOM


  1. "The 1916 rebels understood the importance of leadership, vision, sacrifice and hope."

    Would that "sacrifice" include the countless innocent Irish civilians and policemen whom the rebels "sacrificed" by slaughtering them in cold blood?

    PS - You did well on Pat Kenny's Frontline last night!


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