It would be reassuring if the case that Adams represented were to trump the one articulated by Gilmore. There is no question that the austerity package being defended by Gilmore will work. But who it works for is a more important question. Certainly not the poorest, the most vulnerable, the unemployed, the almost homeless, the already homeless, the debt ridden, the sick. There is a category of people in the here and now who will not feel the strangulation of austerity. Sure it will work for them. But far too many people are scraping by outside that category.
Sinn Fein would be all the more effective if what it said was believable. But here again, at a time when accuracy is badly needed, it has been caught dissembling. ‘The oxygen of publicity which makes Gerry Adams go rigid with excitement when he gets close to a microphone or TV camera’ is not going to excite the electorate into voting No.
Towards the end of April the Yes camp must have been exhilarated watching the Fine Gael Dublin Central TD, Paschal Donohoe at a Sub-Committee session on the Austerity Referendum drive a coach and four through the contents of a Sinn Fein anti-treaty leaflet which dishonestly recruited to the No Campaign three economists who in fact support a Yes vote. His task was made all the easier that Adams rather than Eoin O’Broin or Pearse Doherty stood in the breach to defend the pass.
In its leaflet Sinn Fein cited Karl Whelan as saying ‘the economics of this treaty are pretty terrible’. What the leaflet did not say was that Whelan added however, ‘I think that, on balance, the arguments favour Ireland signing up to it’. The leaflet then quoted Colm McCarthy as having said that ‘as an exercise in addressing the eurozone's twin banking and sovereign debt crises, the fiscal compact makes no worthwhile contribution’. It did not inform the readers it was trying to con that McCarthy had also said that the treaty nevertheless remained ‘the correct response, unavoidable and in the country's best interests’. Sinn Fein also recruited Seamus Coffey to its cause but concealed from its readers that Coffey argued that ‘there is little to be gained from rejecting the Treaty’.
This paved the way for Paschal Donohoe to say that:
All three of these experts have said while they have some reservations about the contents of the Stability Treaty, a Yes vote is in Ireland’s best interests ... Sinn Féin should withdraw this leaflet and explain why they have misrepresented three impartial experts to support their claims ... this all says an awful lot about the many weaknesses in Sinn Féin’s argument ... now they are resorting to misrepresenting the views of others.
Despite the best efforts of the United Left Alliance to make a serious intellectual critique of the Treaty in its advocacy of a No vote Sinn Fein’s shambolic presentation of the argument amplifies Enda Kenny’s attempted rubbishing of the No Campaign as ‘absolute nonsense and economic lunacy of the worst type.’ It also renders plausible the Eamon Gilmore reference to the tooth fairy economics of Adams.
There is the sense that Sinn Fein would be more comfortable calling for a Yo vote, where the party could be all things to everybody, a bit of yes here, a touch of no there. We know only too well that if in government the party would be implementing austerity every bit as vigorously as it is doing on behalf of the Tory cuts in the North despite promising never to do so.
Sinn Fein’s best shot at selling the No Campaign, a campaign worthy in itself, amounts to bamboozling the electorate. It adds ballast to the Irish Times analysis that defeating the treaty appears to be Sinn Fein’s sole objective, taking the legs from below Fianna Fail en route. In its endless quest for power, just to have it rather than do anything positive with it, wider society is to be first hoaxed and then hobbled.