Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

God love them, but the Brits know little about Ireland.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 18, 2010 in British Politics, European Union, Irish Politics |

I like the Brits. I have many British friends, I enjoy visiting the UK, I watch British TV and read British papers and magazines. Britain stands for a lot of good things. But reading this comment track from Tory website Conservative Home, you really have to wonder. How can a country that occupied us relatively recently know so little about us?

So let me clarify a few things for my British readers:

1. There is no desire in Ireland to rejoin the UK or sterling. You may hear the odd remark from the odd eccentric, but it is about as likely as Britain joining the Euro in the next 12 months.

2. Contrary to the coverage in some elements of the British media, Ireland is actually a functioning country with a functioning economy. We’ve a budget deficit, not a civil war. Nor are we’re the only country with hard left rioters. Ask the tenants of Millbank.

3. The Euro is not the source of our problems. Our exports continue to perform strongly. Please stop trying to project your Euro neurosis onto us. The Euro has flaws, but it is still where we need to be. We need to be competitive by cutting our costs, which we are doing, not by some Harold Wilson style three card trick.

4. Despite this crisis, our standard of living is still far higher than it was outside the EEC, and comparable to Britain. Bear in mind that one of the major rows we are having is about bringing the state pension, minimum wage and Jobseeker’s Benefit level DOWN to the British level, and bringing our tax levels UP  to yours.  

5. Our relationship with the rest of the EU is different from Britain’s relationship with them. Like them, we have known military occupation and brutal suppression by a hostile enemy power, and so understand that mutual cooperation is not a sign of weakness.

6. And by the way: About Irish people travelling to the UK looking for work, don’t forget who the single biggest minority group is in Ireland. That’s right: Brits. It cuts both ways.

And finally: Today’s editorial in The Irish Times is the most succinct description of our situation I’ve yet seen.


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason O'Mahony, Caroline De Cock. Caroline De Cock said: Great analysis, as always RT @jasonomahony: God love them, but the Brits know little about Ireland: http://ht.ly/3bISE [...]

The Oncoming Storm
Nov 18, 2010 at 6:09 pm

The comments on “UKIP Home” aren’t particularly representative of mainstream British Conservative opinion let alone the national view. Most mainstream Tories abandoned the comments section long ago when it was overrun by the Euro loonies, I can assure you that mainstream Tories don’t spend their time obsessive about Europe, they don’t particularly like it but they realise that membership is in Britain’s wider interests. For the record I’m a Tory Unionist from up North!

Ireland leaving the Euro isn’t remotely feasible, how could you launch a new currency in the midst of a severe depression? The Euro isn’t perfect but there’s no alternative.

Nov 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Go Jason!

david morris
Nov 18, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Reading comments on ConHome ? You definitely need to get out more.

After the unelected Hermie Van Rompuy last week declared the EU’s intention to end national self-determination, now EU officials are seeking to bounce Ireland into direct economic rule,

If Ireland does accept an EU bailout, ninety something years of Irish independence will be snuffed out. It won’t just be Ireland’s low rates of corporation tax that will go. So too will the ability of Ireland to freely elect a government that taxes and spends in accordance with what the Irish people want.

What should be happening to safeguard Irish freedom to remain outside Rumpuy’s nightmare system of pan-EU economic government is for Britain to help Ireland bail out of the Euro.

For Ireland, the euro has been a disaster. Bailout or no bailout, Eire’s economy diverges cyclically and structurally from Continental Europe: save by occasional and fleeting coincidence, its interest rates and exchange rates will always be out of sync. How, though, does Ireland get out of it? Is there any solution?

Yes. Ireland could adopt the pound and treat its loans as having been issued in sterling. Immediately, Eire would be able to start exporting its way back to growth. And, because the UK and Ireland move in a synchronised, mid-Atlantic cycle, trade substantially with one another and have similar economic profiles, the problem of inappropriate monetary policy would disappear.

Could a FF government grow a pair & advocate rejoining the sterling area? It depends on the alternatives. Accepting an EU bail-out would mean sacrificing economic sovereignty, but wouldn’t solve the underlying problem. Adopting the pound, with a proper recognition of Irish independence (unlike the pre-1979 arrangement), would put Ireland on a sustainable road to recovery. It’s Biffos’ call. (*)

This Brit may not know much about Ireland, but he does know a little about Economics 101 – much more in fact than most would-be Europhile pols.

(*) God help ye. (BTW I’m still mystified how 11% of the electorate think he’s done a grand job)

Goodnight & good luck.

Nov 19, 2010 at 1:03 am

7. No one in Ireland uses the term Eire when speaking English.

Jason O
Nov 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm

8. When we speak of “the mainland” we mean France.

Nov 20, 2010 at 2:27 am

It’s an all too typical ConHome article I’m afraid – Europe and everything about it is to be feared, the pound will save all, and for gods sake don’t trust those dodgy foreigners. (This may be a slight exaggeration).

Good riposte though, their article is crap and needed challenging!


[...] I’ll leave that thought there, because I’m a Brit, and, as Jason O’Mahony points out wittily and probably accurately, Brits know little about Ireland. Tóibín, on the other hand, deserves to be read in [...]

french derek
Nov 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Well Jason, David Morris makes the case for your headline doesn’t he?

We share the Euro with you but not the same taxation regime, nor the same banking rules. As Ireland bounded away with low taxation regimes and lax banking regulation, France plodded along (high taxation and tighter banking regulation).

Ireland has now learned that the boom wouldn’t last, and that it should have raised taxation levels to account for a – what would have been a normal – stabilisation; and taken note (ie action) of the (over) high lending levels of banks. The fact that the credit crash replaced the normal stabilisation; plus the effect of that crash on the banking system (and, thus, creditors) brought Ireland to the present situation.

Being in the Euro “club” has helped: other members were and are wanting Ireland’s revival. UK is offering support because their banks (including state-owned) have so much money at stake in Irish banks. You can see where your real friends are – Yes?


[...] rarely lacks opinions. The Brits were keen to voice their view on the bail-out to which the Irish promptly replied; with Ireland involved, the British seemed more engaged with the troubled Euro-zone than they were [...]

Bill Canaday, 2010
Nov 23, 2010 at 2:13 am

Bad link for the Irish Times editorial. One too many “http//”s.

As an American who traces his ancestry back to 9th century Ireland, it saddens me to see that conditions there are no better than here. Know this: when money speaks, its first victim is truth. The people of Ireland have just been sold to the IMF … and you never even saw it coming. America is a little bigger, so it will take a little longer, but our turn is coming, too. Welcome to the New World Order, peon.

Nov 24, 2010 at 6:40 pm

9. If we were not members of the Euro two years ago we would have been wiping our ar838 with £20 notes because it would have been cheaper than buying bog roll!



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