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


  1. Here we go again!In reference to your latest entry, I would as an Irish person like to convey some sense of the current state of affairs here. Due to our domestic economic woes,the Government parties are deeply unpopular and there is a real possibility that the upcoming Lisbon II referendum will be used as a protest vote against them.

    Secondly, more and more people here are coming to regret that we joined the single currency, as the "one size fits all" monetary policy is seen as having exacerbated the property boom that has lately collapsed. The fear here is that once Germany recovers, the ECB will raise rates to suit, just as they lowered them in 2002, leaving us in the doldrums.

  2. Theglasshalffullman,

    You may be right to divine that the unpopularity of the government and the severe financial and economic crisis can affect the Irish voters negatively.

    On the other hand, the EU and the euro are seen by many as anchors of stability, I reckon.

    However the Irish vote on 2 October 2009, it will be a watershed in Ireland's relations as a European country, for some time to come.

  3. thank you for the book recommendastion, could improve my french as well ;-)

    re above comment, a deeply unpopular bank support package by taxpayers money has just been decided today,
    with a massive rise in bank shares,
    extensively commented on in conversations around the place.

    Whether it affects the great yes majority in the polls "remains to be seen" as media commentators like to say...

  4. Panta Rei,

    The same goes for me: I have chosen French literature lately to improve my understanding of French.

    The author clearly comes out on the side of a European Ireland, liberated from its unipolar link to England.


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