Saturday, March 21, 2009

World by Storm on Ganley and his Big Lie

World by Storm has a great Cedar Lounge post on Libertas.

Libertas and the German Ambassador. Short skirmish or full blown war? March 20, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, European Union, Irish Politics.

I’m in two minds about the latest thoughts of Libertas as related in the following missal from the Chairman’s aides:

Another unelected bureaucrat criticises democracy – Libertas
The German Ambassador has once again clearly demonstrated the contempt in which he as an unelected bureaucrat holds the Irish people in comments attributed to him in this morning’s Irish Independent, Libertas Chairman Declan Ganley said today.
According to the Independent, Ambassador Christian Pauls said that Ireland would “throw away its future” by rejecting Lisbon a second time. Mr Pauls has previously stated that Ireland is a “coarse place with a sad history where the natives are obsessed with money”, along with criticising public servants and attacking the car-buying habits of Irish people. On that occasion, Mr. Pauls received a stern rebuke from the Irish Government.
Commenting on Ambassador Pauls’ latest comments, Libertas Chairman Declan Ganley said:
“These latest comments from a senior EU diplomat should remind every Irish person of the absolute contempt in which the unelected representatives of Brussels hold them. Ambassador Pauls’ statement is utterly false, and is a disgusting attempt to bully ordinary people down a course that he has chosen for them.
It is absolutely extraordinary for a foreign diplomat to try to tell the Irish people what way to vote, and it demonstrates once more that the price we are called to pay for a pat on the head from Brussels is our own right to vote as we please.
I hope that on this occasion, the Irish Government will show the same courage in standing up to the Ambassador as they did when he called our people “coarse” and mocked our history. This pattern of behaviour is unacceptable and insulting to any decent Irish person.
Libertas is absolutely committed to the future of Ireland and Europe, and Ambassador Pauls and his masters in Germany do not have a monopoly on the world our children will grow up in. His latest comments should bring home to the Irish people the lack of democracy or respect that permeates today’s Brussels establishment”.

First up it’s a bit of a stretch to argue that the German ambassador is somehow ‘a senior EU diplomat’, that being the case then any member of any foreign service of any European country is therefore an ‘EU’ diplomat, senior or otherwise. Yeah, that’s right. Ireland’s Ambassador to - say - South Africa is an “EU diplomat”. If so we’re surely twisting the meaning of the term into an unrecognisable shape. Secondly as a German diplomat, he therefore isn’t per se an ‘unelected representative of Brussels’. He’s a representative of Berlin. Is the Chairman suggesting that the civil service, or diplomatic appointments in particular should be subject to election?

Which leads me to the next point. When the Chairman argues that ‘It is absolutely extraordinary for a foreign diplomat to try to tell the Irish people what way to vote, and it demonstrates once more that the price we are called to pay for a pat on the head from Brussels is our own right to vote as we please.’ I fear he is ignoring the fact that he as an unelected perhaps politician is all too quick to instruct not merely the Irish people how they should vote on Lisbon I and II, but has now made something of a career of traipsing around Europe telling the citizens of ‘foreign’ countries how they too should vote. And has gone further by establishing, as best he can (which is not necessarily as best as it should be) a political framework within which to directly influence the outcome of the upcoming European Elections.

Which is all fair enough, indeed more than fair enough, as regards his lobbying - except that he appears to be denying the right to make any observation by others on this issue.

Which also sits oddly with his evident delight at the comments of Czech President Vaclav Klaus who acted entirely contrary to his governments stated policy on the EU by meeting and supporting Ganley quite publicly (and as an aside, the method by which the Czech President is elected is a fine example of ‘indirect’ democracy).

Now, I think Paul’s intervention is misguided. A little silence from him on matters Irish and European might be no harm at all in the current period, particularly given his track record (although his previous pronouncements had more than an element of truth in them - particularly in the aftermath of the financial crisis).

But… that said the man is the representative of his nation, Germany, and as such has every right, as I see it, to make statements on what that country believes is in its strategic interest and the strategic interest of its partner across three decades, the Republic of Ireland. I may disagree with those statements, but I think that his right to make them is at least equal to, and arguably, greater than, that of the Chairman who is - as yet - the self-appointed leader of a pressure group.

And the Ambassador wasn’t criticising democracy… he suggested that:

“A second No would have horrific consequences for Ireland and I am not the first to say it. I don’t think there is anything particularly new in that.”

We can disagree with that statement, or agree with it. But we can’t have a fit of the vapours about it and pretend that he has no right - no right at all - to make it, or that that in and of itself ‘criticises’ democracy. A criticism of democracy would be to suggest that the vote itself was illegitimate or that it should not be brought before the people.

And the Ambassador makes a reasonable point when in response to the comments by Libertas he noted that:

“We are in a different stage in the ballgame now. . . Everybody seems to be forgetting that this is a family issue involving 27 family members. I find the prospect of a second No frightening and I am going to continue making that case.”

And he makes the even more reasonable point that:

The ambassador rejected suggestions his remarks could be considered undiplomatic. “They are not. I am simply conveying what my government thinks. That is my job.”

It is indeed his job. And perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps a bit of bluntness in this debate is no harm. Perhaps it needs people to say that the choices facing this state and its citizens are stark, perhaps it would be nice to say that whatever path is taken there will be costs.

But the swooning and fainting fits at Libertas entirely ignore that in a bid to find insult where there is none. And it points to yet another contradiction at the heart of their project. Calling for transparency and openness is commendable. But it is, as it happens, a two-way street.

And here is a curious paradox. If one casts ones mind back some weeks a speaker at the John Paul II Society conference in Ballagahaderreen, Co. Roscommon argued that:

Public figures should never be afraid to speak of their faith, their beliefs and their values…

So let’s take the phrase ‘yes we can’ and recognise that ‘yes we must’. Yes, we must take risks for truth. We must not be suppressed or cowed or embarrassed to stand up for our values, for our families and to show love for one another.”

Now of course, the context was more religious than secular, but I think it’s fair to say that any person of conviction would expect the application of the principle to be across both areas.

And who, by the way, is the sage who uttered those words?

Step forward the Chairman…

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