Saturday, 5 September 2009

Ireland from megaliths to the second Lisbon Treaty referendum

The EU Treaty of Lisbon was agreed among 27 national governments and it has been approved by 26 national parliaments. Ireland is different: The existing interpretation is that this international treaty requires a referendum and the supposedly pro-European Irish voters baffled the rest of Europe by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty in June 2008.

In a few weeks time, the Irish are going to vote again, with assurances that each member state will retain a Commissioner and with clarifications regarding issues, which caused confusion ahead of the first referendum.

In order to understand a bit more about Ireland and the Irish, I found an excellent book in French: Histoire de l’Irlande et des Irlandais, by Pierre Joannon. (Éditions Perrin, 2009, 825 pages, 12 €).

This history guides the reader from the age of the monoliths to about 2005. The fresh pocket edition adds a chapter (Épilogue provisiore), which takes us to the present days of the wounded Celtic Tiger and to the threshold of the second Lisbon referendum.

As a non-expert reader, I can only offer my impression: Joannon manages to combine his deep sympathy for the Irish with a scrupulous effort to present the facts correctly. A great read for Europeans keen to understand more about Erin, and why not for the Irish themselves at their historic crossroads, with prosperity and Europe in the balance.

Ralf Grahn