Our Constitution is not an especially delicate one. We like referendums in this Ireland. We have had enough of them to spark a regular robust debate every few months on the correct plural for the word referendum. The explanation is sufficiently complex (you may find yourself saying the word ‘gerundive’) that as far as I’m concerned, peoples can choose whichever plural they wants.
The thirty or so referendumeronios we’ve held so far have ranged from dusty questions of procedure to hugely divisive morality questions. Most of the rest have been about Europe. Earlier EU referendums were easily passed because with billions of pounds in structural aid waiting on a ship clearly visible from the shore, it was like voting to let someone love you a little more. This one is more complicated and confusing so here is a guide to some of the terms you will need to help you make up your mind.
Referendum – A type of fun election where you don’t have to meet the candidates on the doorsteps. The good thing about the referendum is that when you go into the voting-centre, there is a slightly higher chance that you will have heard of the choices before you go in, unlike the general election where you don’t recognise anyone on the ballot paper apart from yer man off the telly. Referendumae are also more enjoyable because the lack of candidates means you won’t be subjected to the fake-sincere, two-handed handshake from someone looking for your vote.
Scaremongering – Approximately fifteen minutes after the start of a referendum campaign, the first accusations of scaremongering begin. The word has become so devalued that now anyone who suggests what might happen can be branded a scaremonger e.g.weather forecasters who predict showers. The only logical next step is for one side of the campaign to accuse the other of scaremonger-mongering.
Fiscal Compact – a rather shoddily built container where Europe hopes to have its make-up. If you examine it too deeply, the foundation falls out. However if you don’t have it, you’ll be going out without your face on. And things could get ugly.
Austerity – Life in Ireland, making you want to go to Australia.
Growth – Life in Australia.
Growsterity/Stimerity/Austimilus – The magical balance between growth, stability and austerity. The fiscal equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul – or cutting Peter’s dole to provide grants for Paul to start a renewable energy business.
Grability – A combination of growth and stability but as practised by Irish politicians.
European Union – A friend who used to be sound when you were young. Then you moved away and had all sorts of adventures. You came back for a funeral and met this former friend and they seemed a bit ‘funny’ to you and you weren’t sure what had happened in the meantime.
Structural Deficit – A situation where you have hundreds of thousands of building workers and no work for any of them.
EFSF – The sound you made when you ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
Greece – The Nick Cotton of Europe. In EastEnders, when it looks like everything is going to go well, when it looks like “we’re gonna be a pwoppah faaaamly agayne” some unstable character from the past makes an appearance in the Old Vic saying “Remember me?” Similarly in Europe, the ECB say to Spain “I’m gonna buy all your crappy government bonds and we’re gonna be a pwoppa financial union” Greece turns up saying “I hate to interrupt this touching scene but I’ve just ‘ad an election. That’s right you heard me. Fings are gonna get interesting araaand here.”
Turning a corner – What an Irish economy does before something even worse happens – usually the reappearance of Greece.
Eurobonds – Promises made by Irish football fans to their families that they will definitely make it up to them, they promise, but that Daddy has to go somewhere for a few weeks and Daddy loves them very much. Then Daddy races out the door and jumps in a brightly painted van full of his mates, with the word Poznan Here We Come painted on the side.
Frontline Debate – The high point in any political campaign where literally anything can happen but rarely does unless there’s a tweet. In every Frontline Debate there will be:
· Some podiums to be gripped
· Someone in the audience who makes a populist point which sparks applause which unfortunately drowns out the rest of the point
· The phrase “I’d like to see the minister come down to my town where people are suffering/the septic tanks are full/the streets have no name.”
· One instance where Pat Kenny gets cranky with a fella with a red face.
· Somebody quiet down the front who begins her point with “Pat, as a mother, I believe…”
No – Ask Me Again (or at least it usually does, but possibly not this time)
Now is all of that clear? Yes or No?