Cowen Celebrates Dail’s 90th Anniversary
Brian Cowen chose to use his Dail Anniversary speech to forge a link between the first Dail in 1919 and Ireland’s role in Europe. Under the wider topic of republicanism Cowen addressed partition, Europe and the wider economic downturn.
It is a starting gun on raising the profile of the EU’s role in stabilising the country as well as an echo of ICTU/SIPTU’s call for social solidarity to address the down turn.
Only in the recent past have political leaders on the island been able to find the will and imagination to identify a path through the barriers to reconciliation.
The Irish people, North and South, have for their part accepted that Northern Ireland remains in union with Britain unless and until the majority in the North desire otherwise.
No shock but an interesting time to stress the principle of consent and the need to understand and co-exist. On Europe
Since 1973 therefore, we have applied this principle to guide our participation in what is now the European Union. Our membership puts Ireland squarely at the centre of one of the world’s most influential players. Amplified by the Union, Ireland’s voice, unlike that of the first Dáil, can no longer be ignored internationally.
Our influence within the Union is pervasive, whether at the highest levels of its institutions, or as a mediator helping to resolve different positions at inter-governmental meetings. We have been extremely successful participants in the Union and it has given us a reach and a power unachievable to us alone…
The truth is that Europe empowers us. It gives us a place at the table, from which we can deploy our resources, our influence and our sovereignty to the benefit of the Irish people…
Alongside peace and a respected place at the heart of Europe, together we have also used our independence to build a stronger, fairer Ireland.
Europe will increasingly be tied not only to our previous successes but to our weathering of the worst downturn. Which gives a neat segue to Cowen’s next paragraph’s
In every decade since our independence, this country has faced serious economic challenges. Despite the hardships involved, we confronted each of those challenges successfully….
The scale of the adjustments now required represent a major political, economic and social challenge for every single person in this country.
Everybody in this country will be affected and everybody will have to play their part in overcoming the challenge.
With unemployment rising, we must not allow the full burden of adjustments fall on those who lose their jobs.
Those who are in employment, whether in the private or the public sector, will also share the burden. A particular responsibility lies on those who have benefitted most from the rapid growth of the economy over recent years, whether as investors, self-employed or employees. They are being asked to show solidarity with those who are less well off.
It is that sense of solidarity which marks Irish society at its best. It is the spirit which gave rise to the social partnership process, which has contributed so much.
Social solidarity,(a call to pull together and tighten our belts?) and Europe are the central planks of a recovery and while we only need to nod to Europe at the moment it is not beyond reason that we end up heading to Brussles in need of more sophisticated assistance.
Even if we don’t go with the bank crisis, there are two funds we have already passed on (the globalisation adjustment fund and the EIB small and medium business credit scheme. It may have seemed politically impossible to take the funds following the defeat of Lisbon but with a renewed election cycle to think about we may have to head over and from there, social solidarity and republican values will carry us over the line.
At least it looks like a narrrative, though not an economic plan, nor a coherent policy strategy. But it is a start. The one everyone has been crying out for.