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LTE: Irish Confederacy

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 09:41:40 AM EST

The Irish Independent, the largest circulation daily in Ireland has published an edited version of my Letter to the Editor.  At 269 words, it is an edited version of my letter which in turn was a severely summarised version of my 3,000+ word blog A Brexit doomsday scenario. It all reads a bit stark and unqualified, with no supporting argument, but the gist is there. Perhaps it will start a more balanced discussion than what appears in UK dominated media...

Letters to the Editor: Irish Independent (Scroll down page)

Irish confederacy is coming

So far we have only heard one side of the story: what the UK says it wants. The EU response won't become clear for months - perhaps not until after the French and German elections in May and September.

Talks will break down, and there will be no substantial Brexit agreement, with the UK drifting off into transatlantic space with no lifeline to the EU.

Donald Trump will get involved, and make a complete mess of it, alienating both sides further. A trade war will result. British firms requiring access to the single market will relocate here. We will survive.

Ireland will hardly feature on the geo-political radar except when it refuses to implement a hard Border - effectively retaining the North within the Customs Union.

If Fine Gael tries to implement a hard Border, it will be brought down by FF/Sinn Féin. So we will have a stand-off with the EU. Then a deal will be cobbled together whereby customs controls will be carried out at air and sea ports and the odd random customs check on commercial vehicles within Ireland.

Smuggling on minor roads will be rampant and everyone will turn a blind eye. An Irish solution to a European problem.

Much later, when the North has finally been dragged into the abyss by an economic collapse in the UK, a marginal majority will come to the view that they had better make their peace with the only state that actually cares about them, and a Confederal Ireland within the EU will result. Let's hope not too many lives and livelihoods will be lost in the meantime.

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, Co Wicklow

Discuss.  For those of you who want a more detailed argument and justification, please read A Brexit doomsday scenario.


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"An Irish solution to a European problem" is a riff on An Irish solution to an Irish problem, a phrase popularised by then Health Minister, Charlie Haughey, when he introduced a Bill in 1979 to allow contraceptives to be available in Ireland (against the teachings of the Catholic Church), only on medical prescription, "for the purpose of bona fide family planning or adequate medical reasons."

Physicians and pharmacists who had moral objections would not be obliged to write or fill such prescriptions. Everyone knew that, in practice, everyone would be able to find a doctor and pharmacist to obtain contraceptives if they wanted to, at a price, and the law would increase the monopoly and stranglehold those professions would have on Irish healthcare. (Another important lobby appeased...)

Wikipedia defines the phrase as meaning "any official response to a controversial issue which is timid, half-baked, or expedient, which is an unsatisfactory compromise, or sidesteps the fundamental issue"...

That about covers it, although we sometimes wear such fudged compromises as a badge of honour... A former boss once told me that an ability to "tolerate ambiguity" was an essential quality for any senior manager... when I disagreed with some company decision. In other words, forget about it, move on, it will only be observed or cause a problem in exceptional cases...

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 10:28:50 AM EST
An Irish solution to an Irish problem, eh?

It's a solution as old as time, it's called "giving them enough rope".

They did it a lot in the Soviet bloc; people on the inside would be granted access to what would be punishable contraband. It wouldn't be legal, it wouldn't be official but, so long as you were doing good work for the State, you'd have no problems. A bottle of good Scotch, proscribed literature or even rock and roll records.

But if you stepped out of line, it would provide the authorities all the ammunition they needed to wreck your life and that of those you loved forever. And they'd never need mention the actual thing you were beng punished for.

So, that contraception thing is a load of old balnoney. It's not an Irish solution, it's plain cowardice and corruption. Just like always

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 02:16:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You forget the Catholic Church still ruled Ireland in 1979 and it is still official Church teaching that "artifical" contraceptives are a mortal sin. An aspirant leader of a major party would not have been able to simply legalise contraceptives and survive, so Haughey used the fig leaf of medical necessity and professional control knowing full well that would, in practice, make them widely available. I would argue that he at least addressed the issue, while the real political cowards opposed him and/or did nothing.

In the current context, is it cowardly to seek to prevent a re-emergence of the communal tensions that gave rise to the Troubles even at the cost of some corruption/smuggling?  After all N. Ireland has been put in a situation not of its making.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 03:35:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the cowardice here will be that of the EU and UK who should be discussing this from the get go.

Frankly, even allowing the suggestion of a hard border returning destabilizes the peace process. Which means that the EU/UK have to use their imaginations to create something new. Falling back into old thinking, of believing that we can return to the status quo ante, betrays everybody who worked so hard for peace.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 03:45:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The overwhelming majority of people, and probably of governments, in the EU27 don't even realize the Ulster/Eire border might possibly be an issue to work out post-Brexit. No ill will, mind you, just that the Emerald isle, as beautiful as it is, is a bit remote and not well known by most continentals.

I'm pretty confident that if both parts find a workable solution that keeps smuggling and tax fraud to a level small enough to be safely ignored, the rest of the EU will be quite happy with the arrangement. In that regard, the EU propensity towards half-baked compromises may be quite a good thing.

by Bernard on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 07:54:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And are you suggesting that the catholic church no longer rules the Republic? Cos I'd beg to differ.

It doesn't matter what the majority think, almost all politicians are dyed in the wool religionist maniacs, Ireland is no different. I don't know why but politicians, as a breed, are more gullible devout than the people they represent. So, in the Dail, the catholic church still shakes the corridors of power.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 03:48:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So how was the Marriage Equality referendum held and passed by a large (62-28) majority with EVERY party supporting it?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 04:29:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
cos that's politics. they know there's no mileage is opposing a referendum with a popular mandate, but actual legislation is a different fish

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 04:49:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Though I get that you would want a more elaborate argumentation, I think it works well as LTE. It sets out a likely scenario and the consequences of it.

And I agree, that sounds like the things will likely go.

by fjallstrom on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 06:24:19 PM EST
Maybe they could give Frank a full Op/Ed next time.
by Bernard on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 07:56:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Zwackus has noted, I'm just not a celebrity, nor a card carrying journalist, so my opinions simply don't matter that much!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 08:20:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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