No, I’m not talking about a Robert Ludlum novel. I’m talking about the possibility being pushed by Stephen Donnelly TD and others of a referendum on the EU/IMF deal, and the bank bailout. I have to admit to being undecided myself, as both Donnelly and Shane Ross have pushed the idea, and neither is from the usual headbanger faction in the Dail. But a few questions occur to me:
What would we actually be voting on? To burn the bondholders? By how much? 1%? 10%? 100%? Or would we leave it up to the government, because if we do, and they give, say, a 25% haircut, then surely the headbangers will be screaming “Sellout!” faster than Richard Boyd Barrett can buy a fresh bag of exclamation marks. Yet if we do the usual Irish abortion/EU treaty thing of voting No for ill-deined reasons, and with no clear alternative, how can anyone tell if the government is betraying the will of the people or not? Just look how we vote on abortion: We’ve had five votes on abortion, and not once have we ever been asked do we actually want abortion.
If we are voting against the deal, what are we voting for? The ECB is currently ensuring that our ATMs have money in them, and that our government has money to pay public servants. What happens if we vote to scrap the deal? Will the ECB and EU/IMF then scrap their end of the bargain, and withdraw the cash? Do we know? More to the point, if they very clearly say “Yes, we will withdraw the cash”, will the headbangers then complain that we are being bullied into voting for the EU/IMF deal, as if we have a God-given right to German taxpayers money, having stiffed their banks?
Do we know what percentage of the senior bondholders are Irish institutions and pension funds, and what will happen to them?
Let’s get some answers to those questions before we go marching off to our polling stations humming Bjork songs to ourselves.