Not long ago I wondered whether I was going to live to see this St. Patrick’s Day. So now that I’ve survived to see it, I don’t give a damn what the weather is like. I will just enjoy the craic in my favourite place on God’s earth, Slane in County Meath which sits beneath the hill where St. Patrick lit his paschal fire. Dublin may have the biggest parade in the country but I think us Slane folk have our special reasons to feel proud and now we have our own whiskey with which to drown the shamrock.
On this day I often find myself thinking of previous St. Patrick’s Days spent far from Slane. As it happens this October is my 45th class re-union at Harvard. I still will never forget my first St. Patrick’s Day whilst there, sitting in a bar drinking beer dyed fluorescent green, with tears streaming down my face from the laughter and the emotion engendered by feeling downright homesick.
That’s the thing about being away, particularly when you are young, it intensifies the feeling of nationhood, or certainly did with me. This brings me to a thought this St. Patrick’s Day. We need to think about Ireland, where it is going and what is in the national interest. Our government needs to do some soul searching as well. In this column I have tried to flag matters that I think pose a threat to our future prosperity. Today there will be a good deal of attention focussed on the Donald and Leo Show at the White House and maybe some talk about the potential threat that U.S. Presidents tax policies pose to Ireland. However, a much more dangerous threat comes from Brussels in the form of the horrendously named Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base. This is designed to harmonise tax on multinationals throughout the E.U. Because of our competitive tax policies towards multinationals this beast of a tax is not in our national interest.
Now to widen the scope of this, there are aspects of the whole European project that are beginning to smack of a form of imperialism. Extreme you might think. Well not exactly. There are already a group of Fine Gael MEP’s, including Brian Hayes and Mairead McGuinness, looking to surrender our neutrality and explore an E.U. driven military alliance. Is this in the national interest ?
Looking forward it is important our government has the courage to recognise that the E.U. is changing. President Macron of France’s federalist dreams are now greeted in some quarters with open hostility. The Italian elections have changed the political landscape. On this day when we celebrate what it means to be Irish, we might also think about how we stand against those who do not have our best interests at heart.