Plans have also been drawn up for special courts and extra detention cells at locations in the republic, including counties Donegal and Monaghan, should disorder break out.
And despite UK authorities revealing the cost of the operation to its public purse, Irish taxpayers have been told they will have to wait until afterwards for details of the policing bill.
Garda Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny, who is in charge of the border counties, said the force is in close contact with security services in a number of countries as well as international agencies Interpol and Europol.
Daily intelligence briefings are being held on both home-grown and overseas threats.
“For an event of this magnitude, the what-ifs list is endless,” he said.
So, in so far as we can, plans will take account of worst case and best case scenarios
Garda Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny
Asst Commissioner Kenny said there are contingency plans to respond to a “mix” of threats, which includes the risk of local dissident republicans using the occasion for global publicity.
But the Garda chief said they had no estimate of numbers of protesters expected into the country at this stage. A large protest is expected in Dublin.
Surveillance of ports and airports across the republic and the movement of people throughout the island will form a major part of the security operation.
Eight temporary border checkpoints are to be manned by Garda units backed up by the Irish Army, alongside rolling checkpoints by mobile patrols.
Asst Commissioner Kenny warned people living along the border and others travelling across it to expect disruption in the run up to and during the summit.
The Garda has also been working with the Courts Service about the possibility of special sittings and custody arrangements, should public disorder break out or in the event of an attack.
Another 3,600 officers from forces around the UK will be drafted in for what is expected to be the biggest ever carried operation carried out by the PSNI.
As part of the huge security operation around the high profile event, a seven-mile stretch of Lough Erne is being closed down completely across three days while the Loughshore Road, Enniskillen, is closed until 26 June.
Authorities in the UK have already revealed they expect the event to cost around £50m.
Asst Commissioner Kenny said the Garda was still in the latter stages of planning and final costs, overseen by the Department of Justice and other Government departments, are not available for taxpayers in the Irish Republic.
“It is a fluid, moving plan. The finer detail of the plan is only coming to light in the latter stages of it, because the countries are voicing their requirements now.”
The Garda chief said the force would give a detailed account of costs after the event.
“Our spending and costs are being challenged on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Politics is dead in the Irish Republic. The Irish parliament, the Dail, is now little more than a rubber stamp for the Troika, the generic name for the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Union, the three powers to which the country is in hock.
Things are bad. Ireland’s debt to GDP ratio is set to reach 122 percent in 2013, above the 120 percent threshold the IMF considers unsustainable. The total debt of the country, according to an Irish Times report, is €192 billion, four times what it was in 2007, with a projected need to borrow a further €34 billion before 2015.
The fact is that Ireland is technically cash-flow insolvent. The country simply doesn’t have the revenue to fund the day to day running of the state. And the projections are for continued borrowing for years to come, with a hope – it can be little more than a hope –that somehow, miraculously, the economy will return to growth.
But with little or no sign of that desperately needed economic growth, emigration of graduates and the unemployed is about the only welfare relief the country has – and at a terrible economic and demographic cost to the future of the state.
Over the past year, 87,000 people left Ireland for countries far afield such as Australia, Canada, and the UK, countries that are now reaping the benefits of Ireland’s expensive-to-educate graduates and tradesmen.
Yet fascinatingly, as those 87,000 people leave the country to find work abroad, the number of immigrants entering the country was steady at 52,700, with 12,400 of these from non-EU countries.
This glaring anomaly of educated and skilled people leaving because of unemployment, being replaced by typically low-skilled immigrants, is not mentioned by the political class. It is mentioned on the streets of Dublin, often in great anger, but no politician will touch it. Political correctness along with the Troika now rule the Irish state.
So even in the midst of financial Armageddon, the numbers entering the country continue at Celtic Tiger levels. Ireland’s welfare entitlements are still very generous, and on any common-sense view of human nature would attract takers. And that seems to be what’s happening.
In north Dublin, for example, over half the applicants for social housing are from immigrants, with over 43 percent of the total being lone parents. While waiting to be housed, all social housing applicants receive rent allowance, with the result that over half of all residential rents in the country are now paid for by the state, or more accurately by the few remaining tax payers.
This socialist policy of state housing support is a lucrative business. One Dublin landlord received €620,000 last year in rent subsidies. On the back of socialist welfare policies, landlords are building wealthy property portfolios – all paid for by the Irish tax payer.
One local councillor from north Dublin broke the rigidly enforced political correctness by talking about ‘welfare tourism’, but quickly back-pedalled and qualified his remark by repeating the well established liberal mantra of how Ireland ‘needs immigrants.’
So what, if anything, is the Irish government doing about this unsustainable mess, apart from drawing lucrative salaries and gold-plated pensions? The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny is paid more than David Cameron.
Economically the Troika is in charge, and the recent austerity budget – which imposed a swingeing property tax on householders, many of whom are in negative equity – was designed largely to facilitate repaying the country’s debt. The government doesn’t have much option here. It simply has to do what it is told by the Brussels apparatchiks.
The Irish political class, in effect, are reduced to being managers working for the Troika, and there’s virtually no serious political debate in the country about any alternative, such as leaving the euro and devaluing. All political parties, both left and right, give absolute and unconditional support to the euro project.
As Nigel Farage said on Irish radio a few months ago, Irish politicians are “the good boys of Europe. Brussels says jump and the Irish say how high.”
Such Brussels worship is unique in the EU. In the UK for example, as in France and other EU states, there is some degree of rational opposition to the EU and to the euro single currency, and these issues often split along left and right lines. There’s no such split in the Irish body politic.
But there is one, highly contentious issue where the Irish political class has dug in and taken a stand – Irish corporation tax rate.
Ireland has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the EU, at 12.5 percent. This makes the Irish Republic a major corporate tax haven, competing with places such as the Cayman Islands. Many large corporations, including Mit Romney’s Bain Capital Private Equity, use Ireland as a corporate base for tax purposes.
There is unanimous support for this beggar-thy-neighbour policy right across the Irish political spectrum – and for good reason. Thanks to its much resented tax haven status, Ireland pulls in large tax revenues that account for an Irish share of global profits hugely disproportionate to the size of the economy.
But the country risks becoming a pariah state over the issue. Many countries in the EU, particularly the French, are furious at Ireland’s tax haven status. They claim companies such as Google use transfer pricing – routing profits from high tax to low tax jurisdictions – that benefits Ireland and takes from the French exchequer.
With such fierce opposition, it’s difficult to see how the Irish can, in the long run, hold out against French demands for change. So even on the issue of setting its own corporation tax rate, it looks like the Irish political class will eventually have to concede to the power of Brussels. When that happens, along with closer political union, many argue there will be little need for an independent Irish parliament.
Vincent Cooper is a freelance writer
THERE IS, IN THE approach to the centenary of the 1916 Rising, a concern with how the declaration of the republic is to be remembered and commemorated. But in fact what characterises the Irish republic is much more the act of forgetting it. At least three times the republic has been declared and then allowed to slip from the national consciousness.
Amnesia, as the French thinker Ernest Renan suggested in 1882, is essential to the foundation of nations. “Forgetfulness, and I shall even say historical error, form an essential factor in the creation of a nation.” What must be forgotten? The “deeds of violence that have taken place at the commencement of all political formations . . . Unity is ever achieved by brutality.” A nation is also based on a common forgetting of its inevitably mixed ethnic origins. “But the essence of a nation is that all its individual members should have many things in common; and also that all of them should hold many things in oblivion . . . It is good for all to know how to forget.”
The Irish republic, though, is not quite like this. It is steeped in forgetting but in a most peculiar way. Renan’s amnesia is a creative act: nations found themselves on acts of forgetting. But the Irish republic goes much further: it forgets its foundation, time and again. And what it shoves to the back of its mind is not the circumstance of its creation but its own existence.
There is something decidedly odd about the 1916 proclamation. Its signatories “hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations”. The authors seem to forget that the organisation to which they belong, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, had long since declared this Irish republic an existing entity. Logically, the 1916 proclamation should have been a restatement or a rededication, not a founding act at all.
For, almost half a century earlier, in 1867, the IRB issued an apparently definitive declaration. “Herewith we proclaim the Irish Republic.” That this first proclamation is remembered only by historians and never referred to in public discourse is in itself unremarkable. What is remarkable is that the IRB seems to have wilfully disremembered it. Perhaps it was felt to be more dramatically potent to begin again, to mark the Easter Rising as a self-conscious point of origin. Perhaps a grand proclamation is easier to kill and die for than an act of memory and recapitulation.
Or perhaps the first declaration of the Irish republic was a little uncomfortable in its social radicalism and open secularism.
The 1867 proclamation has none of the religious and mystical language of the 1916 proclamation. God, invoked twice in 1916, was not imagined as an honorary citizen of the 1867 republic: he or she is entirely absent. Ireland is not invoked as an abstract entity, summoning “her children to her flag”. The 1867 references to the country are concrete: “the soil of Ireland”; “the Irish people”. On the other hand, the 1867 proclamation does mention certain things absent in 1916: a republican form of government (as against both “oligarchy” and “the curse of Monarchical Government”); economic injustice (“the oppression of labour”); and economic equality (“we aim at founding a Republic based on universal suffrage, which shall secure to all the intrinsic value of their labour”).
Even more uncomfortably, the 1867 proclamation resists ideas of either religious or ethnic solidarity as the basis for the Irish republic. It is explicitly secular. “We declare, also, in favour of absolute liberty of conscience, and complete separation of Church and State.” And it does not create a simple opposition of “Irish” to “English”. It declares war on “aristocratic locusts, whether English or Irish, who have eaten the verdure of our fields”. On the other hand it imagines, however fancifully, a common cause with the English working class. “As for you, workmen of England, it is not only your hearts we wish, but your arms.”
This putative Irish republic had to be forgotten in 1916, even though the leaders of the Rising had in fact sworn oaths of allegiance to it. Strikingly, though, this is not the only act of wilful amnesia in the 1916 proclamation. It explicitly calls to mind the idea of oblivion, declaring the new republic to be “oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past”. The desired import is that “differences” – the profound division between largely Catholic nationalism and largely Protestant unionism that had just brought the island to the brink of civil war – should be forgotten. But the effect is, rather, that they have been forgotten. The proclamation is in this sense too an act of forgetting: its whole gesture of declaring a republic relies on the throwing of a mental cordon sanitaire around unionism. It is delicately and euphemistically broached, but only in order to be immediately dismissed from consciousness. “Oblivious” here is a well-chosen word.
IN ANY EVENT , the 1916 republic was itself quickly forgotten. It was, in part, overtaken by partition. But it was also treated with little respect by its own heirs: the politicians who came to power in the southern Free State. In 1919 the first Dáil attempted to formulate in concrete terms what the republic might actually mean. That meaning, it agreed, would have to centre on the idea of social equality: the republic would have to belong equally to all its citizens. In introducing the Democratic Programme that the Dáil adopted, Richard Mulcahy said, “A nation cannot be fully free in which even a small section of its people have not freedom. A nation cannot be said fully to live in spirit, or materially, while there is denied to any section of its people a share of the wealth and the riches that God bestowed around them.” Accordingly, the Democratic Programme explicitly announced that the 1916 proclamation meant that “all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare”. It defined the republic as one whose first duty would be to the welfare of children, which would create “a sympathetic native scheme for the care of the Nation’s aged and infirm, who shall not be regarded as a burden, but rather entitled to the Nation’s gratitude and consideration”; and which would create an effective public healthcare system.
All of this was adopted unanimously and without debate – a sign not that it represented the serious commitment of the Dáil but in fact that it did not. In Irish political culture it is a safe bet that anything that is unanimous is a mere gesture.
The first Dáil did something extraordinary: it teased out what the real meaning of the republic declared in 1916 would be, then forgot all about it. Within four months, by April 1919, Éamon de Valera announced that the implementation of the Democratic Programme would have to be postponed. Kevin O’Higgins, one of the most influential figures in the early years of the Free State, later dismissed the Democratic Programme as “mostly poetry”. It was, in the event, not merely consigned to oblivion but actively traduced: child welfare, for example, was monumentally abused.
But did the 1916 republic ever exist in any corporeal form? In 1935 de Valera, the senior surviving leader of the Rising, declared that “they were not going to declare a republic during this period of office”. Yet by 1937 he was declaring that his new constitution gave Ireland “all the symbols and institutions of a Republic except the title”. But yet again in 1937 he declared that “the unity of Ireland under a new Constitution is far more desirable for him than any declaration of a republic for the truncated country”. Even the arch-republican could not say whether Ireland was a republic or not.
And so the republic, twice forgotten, was declared all over again. The Irish republic was inaugurated, this time by an Irish government, on Easter Monday 1949 – April 18th – with a ceremony at the General Post Office in Dublin. The day and place were chosen to resonate with the declaration of the republic at the same spot 33 years earlier. But the irony of the gesture seems to have escaped the government: it was proclaiming again the republic that had been proclaimed in 1916 by those who believed it had already been proclaimed in 1867. This was a republic so good they proclaimed it thrice.
Or, perhaps, one so nebulous that, however often it was declared, it remained always intangible and out of reach.
And this third declaration of the republic was itself effectively being forgotten even as it was being declared. It generated little public excitement: “It was noted that the ceremonies chiefly involved politicians and the military. The inauguration of a republic and the ceremonies associated with it failed to engage the enthusiastic support of the population in general.”
This is unsurprising. The declaration had been made suddenly and without prior discussion in the Dáil or in public: the citizens of this new republic learned of it in news from Canada, where it was announced by the taoiseach, John A Costello. In fact the great day of the third inauguration of the republic had elements of high comedy. It provided an Irish twist on Karl Marx: the republic was declared the second time (in 1916) as tragedy and the third (in 1949) as farce. De Valera refused to attend, ostentatiously spending the day at Arbour Hill, “praying for the men of 1916”. (Considering the men of 1916 had long since been canonised, it is not clear why they needed his prayers.) A barman – that source of infallible popular wisdom – commented, “Sure, it’s all politics. Costello and his crowd have wiped Dev’s eye and now Dev is trying to get his own back on them.” The Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse drew larger crowds than the birth of the republic.
Brian Inglis in The Irish Times reported: “There was very little real warmth in the cheering, very little real gaiety in the atmosphere. There were loud cheers, but they were the cheers of people just tired of standing there, waiting for something to happen. There were gay crowds, but they were the usual, idle, bank holiday crowds, prepared to watch any free show until such time as the cinemas opened their doors, and they could settle down in earnest to the business of enjoying the holiday.”
There was even trouble getting the new Republic’s tricolour right. “There appears to be some doubt in the public mind, or in the minds of the manufacturers of flags, as to what exactly constitutes the national flag of the Republic. Apart from the normal variations in the hue – primrose yellow to blood orange – quite a number of the small hand flags had the orange instead of the green next to the staff, and I saw one small girl waving a tricolour on which the green, white and orange stripes had been arranged horizontally instead of vertically.”
Souvenir sellers were having a hard time. The price of small Irish flags with gold tassels and pictures of Wolfe Tone or the GPO started at sixpence. By the time the military parade got under way the price was down to twopence, and even before it ended they were being knocked down for a penny. Souvenirs, after all, are meant to stir memories. The crowd may have sensed that this republic, too, would be forgotten.
IN REALITY THE declaration of a republic in 1949 changed nothing much. Ireland left the British Commonwealth, and this negative act was the only meaning the new republic ever had.
Asked by the London editor of The Irish Times whether the Republic of Ireland Act marked a step forward in Ireland’s development, a sceptical George Bernard Shaw replied, “Ask me five years hence. If the terrible vital statistics improve to a civilised level, then our steps will have been steps forward. If not, there will be nothing for us but the ancient prescription of the submergence of the island for ten minutes in the Irish Sea.”
Shaw’s scepticism was entirely justified. The new republic changed little – not even the name of the state, which remained simply Ireland. The term “Republic of Ireland” was declared to be “the description of the State”, not its name.
The Republic of Ireland Act is in fact a desultory piece of legislation, containing five sentences totalling 96 words. It could be so short because it had nothing to say, nothing to bring into effect. Everything carried on exactly as before. The vital statistics of the population – life expectancy, health, poverty, education – did not improve, unless, of course, people left for other countries, as they did in their droves in the decade after the new republic was inaugurated.
This, in itself, surely says something about the idea of an Irish republic. If you can declare it in 96 words that have no consequence, it is only because you have become used to forgetting it. It is an airy, insubstantial thing.
He said: “I think the Irish Republic would do well to look at its role and recognise that it was not the way it should have behaved in those days, and apologise for it because massive death and destruction followed.”