Catherine Reilly (Dublin, Metro Eireann): So the Lisbon Treaty will be put to the Irish public again, but are our faces bovvered?
In an everyday context, news that Ireland must vote again on a sweetened-up treaty would be a major talking point, with aggressively-contested radio phone-ins and copious media coverage, as we again prepared to bask in Europe’s spotlight.
But everyday contexts have been made redundant. The economic situation is rapidly deteriorating and the Government is spooked. Lisbon talk is limp, and even the release of precise information on the potential detail of Lisbon Two may not enliven debates to expected levels.
There is a tiger-shaped shadow darkening Ireland’s green fields, and the mood is growing ever more unpredictable. Against this background, the soul-searching has begun in earnest.
Ireland is on the rebound from consumerism, our president has said. “Somewhere along the line, we began to think that we weren’t happy with deferred gratification,” remarked Mary McAleese last week. “We had to have it now and in this moment. and I think that we have paid a very, very big price for that very radical shift. And now the balance presumably is going to swing back the other way and it will be no harm.
“We clearly have come from quite unbalanced times and they have not been able to secure for us the kind of peace of mind, peace of heart, contentment that we would have wished for. Now we’re trying to find our way back to a more rooted and possibly more modest time.”
But all clouds have a silver lining. One South African woman telephoned a Dublin radio statio this week to say that, since the arrival of the recession, she is finally starting to feel as though she’s really in Ireland; the people are morphing back into their true selves, becoming more friendly.
Yet amid all the necessary soul-searching, thousands of people are dealing with the less flighty concept of job losses. My dad and uncle look to be among ‘the culled’ – a purge controlled by the fat cats to save themselves. A very fitting end to the Celtic Tiger years.
So presently the public focus is on the so-called recovery plan, the one that is supposed to stave off the predicated 120,000 job losses in 2009. Even the Government isn’t talking to us about the Lisbon Treaty right now. Face isn’t bothered, and don’t they know it.
Catherine Reilly is deputy editor at Metro Eireann (www.metroeireann.com), Ireland’s multicultural weekly