Monday, May 28, 2012

Shane Ross TD: Irish politician advocates No and Yes vote on EU Fiscal Treaty

Shane Ross TD, a non-party right-wing member of the Dáil (Irish Parliament) has taken a brave step that is consistent with the rare evidence of courage among Irish legislators. He has come off the fence on the May 31, 2012 referendum on the EU's Fiscal Treaty. Ross advocates a no and a yes vote.

He said in yesterday's Sunday Independent: "Many of us, passionately pro-European, want to support the European project. We want to vote 'Yes'. We cannot because we are being compelled to vote in a twilight zone."

Stephen Collins, political editor of 'The Irish Times' wrote in April 2011 in reference to people such as Shane Ross who were cheerleaders of the most reckless bankers of the bubble: FitzPatrick of Anglo Irish Bank and Fingleton of Irish Nationwide Building Society: "It is probably no accident that some of the cheerleaders of the boom have now turned into leading prophets of doom. The same reckless, gambling instinct that fuelled admiration for Seán Fitzpatrick also underpins the 'burn the bondholders and damn the consequences' philosophy."

"I sometimes had to act against the preconceived opinions and first impressions of my constituents...I value solid popularity - - the esteem of good men for good actions. I despise the bubble popularity that is won without merit and lost without crime" -- Thomas Hart Benton, US senator of Missouri, 1850.

We are in an age where telling the truth can evoke outrage and it's reported that the Facebook page of Christine Lagarde, IMF chief, was bombarded with 10,000 messages in response to daring to point to extensive tax evasion in Greece.

In Ireland, it's rare for politicians to tell home truths to the public. Public pandering is the default route but is often against the public interest.

Senator Benton took an unpopular stand in his home state saying the "incurability of the evil is the greatest objection to the extension of slavery" to new federal states. A colleague on one occasion pulled a gun on him on the floor of the US Senate.

Uncommon valour is not expected of Irish legislators but they should reflect on the words of Irishman Edmund Burke to the electors of Bristol in 1774:

"You choose a member, indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of Parliament. If the local constituent should have an interest or should form a hasty opinion, evidently opposite to the real good of the rest of the community, the member for that place ought to be as far, as any other, from any endeavour to give it effect."

... finally back to Greece and the truth:

"In a study done last year, the OECD described government-run Greek hospitals as deeply corrupt. It concluded that we could save 30 percent of the costs, which is enormous. The hospitals generated a deficit of €7 billion last year. Imagine what an unbelievably large amount of money we could save by simply introducing computers into hospitals. Until now, there has been far too little control over the purchasing of medications and equipment. In Germany, a stent for heart operations costs about €500. In Greece it costs €2,000 to €2,500. The fault lies with corruption" - - George Papandreou, Greek prime minister, Feb 2010.