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The Final Countdown!

So we have just a week left of pontificating. Just a week left of listening to the tired rhetoric, which has taken centre stage since the start of the treaty debate. As anyone who knows me will contest to, I am voting No, and have spent many of the last few weeks trying to convince friends and family why they should vote No also. However, looking at the past few weeks with my objective, neutral hat on, I sadly would have to admit, that there has been some appalling canvassing and debates coming not alone from the Yes side, but also from the No side. This whole debate has been an emotional rollercoaster for the Irish citizen, with talks of atm’s being empty, trains leaving us abandoned at stations, the country being shut down because of the lack of funding for vital public services and even yesterday Leo Vradkar's quite ridiculous and malicious lie, that this treaty is about our membership of the Euro. I normally would not be in a position to have done so much research and reading up on any treaty vote in the past, however, as I have been ill since Christmas it has afforded me the opportunity to do my homework.

Simultaneously to this time spent digesting the facts of this fiscal compact, I have watched friends and family rush about their daily lives, too busy during the day and too tired at nighttime to even contemplate doing independent investigation of the facts. That is not their fault, far from it; people are worn out from trying to keep food in their mouths and roofs over their heads. And this is what fills me with rage about the past few weeks. With the exception of very few Yes and No advocates on Twitter, in the frontlines and in media circles, and of course the referendum commission, the campaign on both sides has been fought in a shameful way, with the winner of each battle being those who could tell the biggest lie. It is almost ironic, that the electorate, once again, was treated with the most distain by their elected representatives. I believe that this is becoming too much of a pattern to ignore anymore, especially after electing a government just last year, with the sole responsibility of bringing about change. However, I will not dwell on that point, as this is about the treaty and its debate.

Who fought a good fight? I believe Declan Ganley and Libertas were excellent and extremely factual about the treaty and the implications of endorsing same. As much as it pains me to say it, I think Fianna Fail, with the exception of the O'Cuiv moment, were excellent. From Twitter folk like Ken Curtin who was respectful of all opinion and measured and balanced, to their leader Michael Martin, who never turned down one debate, and has always been measured and informed and unfortunately won most of his debates, partly because of his opposite number but mostly because of his debating skills! Sadly however that’s where I believe the fair fight started and ended. I believe Labour have been atrocious for this campaign. We were treated to cheap lines by Ivana Bacik telling us that we should vote Yes simply because Declan Ganley said to Vote No. The only other place I saw this type of call to action was in The Sunday World, which says enough in my opinion. On Labours own website, there were personal attacks on Declan Ganley and his motivation for urging a No Vote, by a Labour senator, a move that I believe could cost Labour and the senator legally. We had Gilmore, jumping up and down, waffling, telling blatant porkies, bursting veins and turning his head a red colour , which ironically matched the Labour Rose quite well, however, not one ounce of substance or fact was forthcoming from the same tongue. It may be indicative of the leanings of this current Labour party, that I heard the word “investor” more times than I heard “Ireland”, “people”, “sovereignty” and “society” combined from their debate team. I also believe it was hugely damaging for Joan Burton to remain relatively inactive in this treaty campaign. My head tells me this may be for two reasons, either too busy in her department or that the leader is worried about Joan overshadowing him and threatening his position, a threat that is inevitable to overthrow Eamonn Gilmore in my opinion. However, as Joan is one of the very few Labour politicians I actually respect, my heart tells me, it could be because she herself will be voting no and does not believe in the treaty enough to try sell it to an austerity weary people.

Sinn Fein have been less than fair to the people also. Austerity is inevitable whichever way we vote. I agree with their callings for growth, however, I believe their only two credible debaters are Pearse Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald. Every other Sinn Fein member, including their leader should keep their debates private. Pearse and Mary Lou have made an awful lot of sense in this campaign, even when RTE tried their best to keep Mary Lou silent in various debates. However, most of their other debaters do damage to their campaign, as do Mary Lou and Pearse when they start talking about more general and idealistic Sinn Fein economic policy as well as cheap arguments about austerity. 

However, more than the total combination of every party and individual that has been unfair to the electorate in this campaign, Fine Gaels campaign has made me despise a party that just 12 months ago I was a member of and had voted for for the previous ten years. Their campaign has been filled with nothing but lies, exaggerations, scare mongering and vested interest / party linked “independent” sports people, semi state CEO’s and private CEO’s being wheeled out to endorse the Fiscal Compact. The No side have been treated like economic illiterates whose personal integrity was attacked or whose IQ was suggested to be below par, simply because of their recognition that we are being bounced into a treaty at the behest of a foreign nation, with strains similar to that of the infamous bank guarantee. This is the same guarantee we have spent the last four years complaining about and will spend the next twenty years reaping the misfortune of. I would point out Leo Vradkar, Lucinda Creighton, Pascal Donohue, Brian Hayes and Charlie Flanagan for particular criticism for their abhorrent treatment of facts. That’s a group filled up to 80% by the new blood, capable politicians that are supposedly going to be Irelands saviors’. In my eyes, the above crop are worse than the generation of Fine Gael that have gone before them. A old school Fine Gael politician who was loose with the truth was seen as some sort of a cult figure, a hard case who would almost be treated like the messer down the back of class by the media, a disruptive figure, but a figure whom everyone liked. These new breed are a totally different kettle of fish. They lie in a way that is very direct and dressed up to make us appreciative of the fact that they are lying, after all it’s in “our interest”. They’re a dangerous bunch of politicians!

Words like “nonsense”, “idiots” and “fantasy” were used in public meetings and chamber events, grossly disrespectful comments to use when addressing the democratic wish of your fellow people. I found it ironic to hear our supposed “business elite”, accusing people like I of being nonsensical when their proposition was to sign a contract which hadn’t been finalised, a contract that proposes to shrink economies simultaneously. I just wonder how they have risen to such supremacy if that is the type of activity they would endorse in their respective businesses. I have found most media outlets to be grossly bias, with the exception of Matt Cooper and Vincent Browne. 

Looking back it has been yet another horrible, misleading, unnecessary campaign, a campaign where independent analysts have not been independent. It has been a campaign where vested interest MEP’s and Senators have questioned those peoples integrity with less to gain than they. But most importantly it has been yet another campaign, where we, the people, have been treated like absolute idiots. Whatever the outcome of this referendum, which I hope will be a rejection for now at least, the carry on of the past few weeks have made me question whether I want to remain an inhabitant of my beloved land, which is being torn apart by a cynical and selfish political and business elite.

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