Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Introduction - Cod & Debt

Welcome to the Decline and Fall of the Irish Free State blog. This blog is written by a 23 year old Irish student in Dublin, Ireland, and the purpose of this site will be to mark my observations of the society I currently live in. Born in Dublin but international in upbringing, I often have to tell people that my accent is a result of living in London for 8 years (1989-1997) and Seoul (1999-2004) for 5 years. Therefore, I have only lived in Dublin when I was 8 to 10 (1997-1999) and now since I was 15 (2004-) First experiencing life in Ireland, albeit briefly, in the late nineties, I was in the comfort of a confident country seemingly on the rise. When I returned from Seoul to sit my Leaving Certificate, my country was known as the "Celtic Tiger" nation and the speculations were increasingly fantastic and grandiose. This was to continue to my university years, then suddenly two years to go until my graduation, Ireland had entered its worst economic crisis and still appears to be on the verge of a collapse.

But you already know about that, don't you? As I write this, the Euro looks like it might entirely collapse, with Ireland being one of the debt culprits and relying on a IMF-EU bailout. What heightened my interest in all this was when Iceland defaulted on its debt in early 2009. Shortly before that, haddocks jokes were in abundance, and it looked like Iceland would collapse entirely, as it was darkly joked that the only difference between Iceland and Ireland was the letter 'r' and six months. Yet, the people of Iceland made a ballsy move and voted on two separate referendums in 2010 and 2011, contrary to their governments wishes, that the Icesave bank losses would not be paid by Iceland to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Subsequent British threats and anti-terrorist legislation did not deter the Icelanders. These people, after all, stood toe to toe with the UK in the "Cod Wars".

A quick Google search for the terms such as "Iceland referendum" and "Iceland default" give few results that talk openly about Iceland set on defaulting on its debt and the Wikipedia pages on Iceland's Economic Crisis 2008-2011 and sovereign default in general are very out of date indeed, the last user to talk about it said "Iceland, as a state, is meeting all its obligations so it's not bankrupt" (5 April 2009). It appears that even mentioning the realisation of a default is no laughing matter.

If it isn't already apparent, my point is that Ireland, a country currently crushed by financial debts, despite talks of economic recovery and multinational investment, could have considered Iceland's example. Brought up as an Irishman, I was always fully aware of my nation's nationalist past and its struggle for its independence. Yet I am being witness to my country's sovereignty, both political and economically, being sacrificed on the altar of the Euro, its optimistic dream towards a integrated European project becoming a nightmare. Young educated people like myself are hit the hardest, only finding any change of employment abroad, to nations such as the US, UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand (Anglosphere nations by the way, not our European partners funnily enough).

Where do I come into all of this? Instead sitting on the fence, I feel I need to make my observations publicly heard. I'll throw some keywords that currently interest and motivate me to write this blog in the first place: foreign policy, EU, Euro, debt, default, budget, nationalism, sovereignty, culture, independence.

As an Irishman living in Ireland, this blog may be reflect an Irish perspective, but my interests are international as well; for example, we have the US elections coming up this year, the Arab world in open revolt and Ireland regularly gets diplomatically involved in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Why is this blog named after the Free State? The Irish Free State was a dominion state that Ireland became after 1922 until 1937. Ireland would finally become the Republic it is today after 1949. Since then, one would presume Irish sovereignty would be something of sacred value, considering the Irish fought so hard for it in the first place. However, I fear it is apparent that in recent years successive Irish governments appear to be quite willing to sell Ireland by the €uro. In a country where I've been taught to appreciate our country's culture, language and independence, I find that we, as a nation, are heading for a decline perhaps more destructive and irreversible than the bleak 1980s.

Glad you could join me.

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