Bruce Arnold

Critic of Public Affairs, writing about art, theatre, music and politics

This is the biggest political betrayal in Irish history

Brian Cowen has carried through his third major betrayal of the Irish people, far more damaging than either of the previous assaults on our sovereignty and Constitution.

The first was his immediate rejection of the country's constitutional decision not to vote for the Lisbon Treaty in 2008. His second was the comprehensive dishonesty with which the second Lisbon Treaty vote was put before the Irish people in 2009 and carried, by only a narrow margin, despite the complicity of the three main parties.

The third has been the stitch-up of what remained of Irish democracy into a squalid deal between the Cowen-led Government, the EU and the IMF. We are getting nothing out of this except a huge increase in our national debt. It has risen to a phenomenal €117,000 per taxpayer.

None of it is gifted. We are, per head of population, the most debt-burdened country in the developed world. In effect, we are putting all that development at risk for the sake of our European masters.

Instead of getting any return, we are sustaining the opposite of what a majority of men and women in the country wanted. Instead of getting value for the money we are being robbed.

This return to the Irish people is Brian Cowen's continued hold on power. As a result of delivering the Budget, delivering the four-year plan, and doing so under an umbrella provided by the EU and by the IMF, he and his party will cement the regime in power. This is purely because Brussels does not want regime-change.

This priceless protection of his power base comes with European insistence that the collapse of the incompetent and fatuous administration acting as a front for European government of Ireland would be "very irresponsible".

There has never been so objectionable an intrusion by Europe into our democratic system, into our constitutional integrity, into the relevance of the Oireachtas and into the basic rights of the Irish people. We have been bought for a loan of crippling dimensions, and for nothing more than that loan.

Already, yesterday in the Dail, it was becoming clear that the main opposition parties are capitulating in light of the ridiculous fiction of an election they still suppose they can win next year. It is not so. Labour and Fine Gael's lead will be speedily demolished as Fianna Fail, with their lackeys who were once Green and are now Yellow, romp through the delivery of a package of nonsense based on the most massive burden of debt we ever embraced.

We are licking the feet of our European governors. We are no longer masters in our own house. By keeping the present "regime" in place, we have become Brussels' footstool.

The true analogy for what we have committed ourselves to is the equivalent of a hugely enlarged Bank Guarantee all over again. We are revisiting September 2008. Brian Lenihan is at the wheel and guiding us into vastly greater debt than he did then. What he is purchasing is the continued survival of an unworthy and ineffective administration that has done nothing concrete to rectify the accrual of bad debts, bad management, lack of reform, continued corruption.

The opposition parties are already half-capitulating in this dreadful conspiracy. They are swallowing the idea of the Budget being put through with them as spectators. Enda Kenny even offered support for this.

They will swallow in due course the use of the first tranche of money to avoid the hard decisions that should be made about property and house tax, public service pay levels, minimum pay and the removal of the duplicate system of government deriving from the 'Quango Mentality'. After that they will swallow anything.

Their political strength is slipping away from them. Our outside masters have used Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan to buy off a massive confidence trick against the wishes and beliefs of the Irish people and will get away with it unless they are stopped now. Who will save our country?