Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Ireland is a pawn in the stuttering euro experiment, a minor piece that can be sacrificed at any time in the greater game that has been played out for many decades between Germany and France in their drive for a federal ‘United States of Europe’-style EU.

Full European Monetary Union (EMU) is an integral part of that drive, all new entrants to the EU mandated to join the euro, all current members (with the exception of the UK and Denmark) mandated to join eventually. With EMU comes full European Fiscal Union, European Banking Union and every other economic union you care to mention, all national monetary, fiscal and banking policy surrendered.

Within that union Ireland is insignificant, dispensable – witness the threats before the Troika came to town, witness further what happened to Greece, with a similar-sized economy to our own but twice our population.

Despite the fact that already we have grievously suffered as a direct consequence of joining the new currency (and we aren’t alone, with five Eurozone going bankrupt, all the rest bar Germany with massively increased debt/GDP ratio), our current government sees no problem with this drive to ever-closer union, more than willing to see us subsumed into this new EU.
For those of us who would prefer to see Ireland as an independent republic among equals in a scaled-back EU, that’s a serious concern.

Of even more concern, however, is what emerged last week, the invocation by the France of the EU Treaty clause 42.7, the mutual defence clause, and our government’s response to it.

Because of our long-held and widely respected policy of neutrality, we have an exemption under that clause, yet this government has opted to send Irish troops to the al Qaeda hotspot of Mali, to enable France to free up its troops there. This is a dangerous development, really dangerous.

What happened in Paris last Friday week is deplorable.
What happened in Beirut a few days before that is deplorable.
What happened in Kenya this year, in Nigeria, is deplorable.
What’s happening right now in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine is deplorable.
Indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel, attacks on individuals, is deplorable.

None of those statements in any way takes from the others – there are so many atrocities happening right now across the globe, carried out in the name of one god or another, fiscal or physical or theological, all deplorable.

Ireland, however, does NOT need to be sucked into this.

What’s happening in the Middle East right now is being presented to us in very simple and stark terms – it’s good versus evil, a clash of civilisations, them against us.

It is not.

The Middle East may not be the kaleidoscope of people and religions and attitudes that we enjoy in Europe but neither is it a monolith, one people with one idea and Israel apart (as it is), one religion. There is, and always was, diversity, colour, tolerance, friendship, hospitality, music, laughter, song.

What’s happening now though, the destruction of the Middle East, is all about the oil, about control of the fields, the production, the pumping, the pipelines. 

Since the early 1900s, Britain and/or the US has been toppling regimes in this region, replacing them with those whom they deemed supportive of UK and US needs. How those puppet regimes treated their own people? Irrelevant. Does anyone seriously believe that the western ‘allies’ gave a damn about the everyday fate of ordinary Libyans under Ghaddafi, or ordinary Syrians under Assad, any more than they gave a curse about Iraqis under Saddam Hussein or Iranians under the Ayatollahs?

This isn’t conjecture, this isn’t conspiracy, this is recorded fact. Almost a century before the recent ill-fated western-backed ‘Arab Spring’, in 1916 we had the western-backed ‘Arab Uprising’ against the Ottoman Empire, but when it was all over, Britain and France carved up what was left between them. Ever since then, the US a late but most enthusiastic arrival to the party, they have all played their own games in that unfortunate area.

The current turmoil was started by George Bush Snr in 1992 with the first invasion of Iraq, continued by his son and his allies in 2003, subsequently added to with orchestrated chaos right across the region. 

Many of those on the ground – probably most of those on the ground – are fighting what they see as a religious war. That’s what those who are pulling the strings want them to think, that’s what they want all of us to think, that’s what our own government now seems to think. But, just as with Ireland and the euro, they are pawns in a much bigger and much dirtier game, WE are pawns in a much bigger and much dirtier game.

We need to step back from this and have a good, hard look. By all means offer all the non-military help we can to the people of Paris and of France, to any other of the innocents in all this. But Mali, al Qaeda, troops? An increase in our defence budget to include fighter jets? 

Where are Enda Kenny and this government leading us, exactly???

A cartoon from 1916, a few decades before the US became involved

For further reading:
Or if you want to off mainstream and for a really big read, Blowback Paris: Exxonomics 102.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


A headline in today’s Irish Times (Aug 19th 2015):

Central Bank accelerates sell-off of bonds issued after IBRC liquidation

The first two paragraphs of the article (which is anonymous but probably printed verbatim from a Finance Department press release) are as follows:

The first clear sign has emerged that the Central Bank is to sell down the bonds issued as part of the IBRC liquidation at a pace faster than the minimum commitment given to the ECB. The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) announced yesterday that it had cancelled €500 million of one of the bonds which it had bought from the Central Bank.
The Central Bank had already sold another €500 million of this 2038 floating rate bond to the NTMA at the end of June. At the time of the IBRC liquidation in early 2013 it had indicated that it would sell a minimum of €500 million a year of these bonds between 2014 and 2018. So the sale of €1 billion this year – following a €500 million sale at the end of last year of the same 2038 bond which met the 2014 commitment– suggests that the Central Bank is moving to sell down the bonds more quickly than the minimum commitment. 

Further down the article, we have the following:

The Central Bank pointed out in an information note issued with its 2014 results that at a time when the NTMA could refinance the bonds at such low interest rates, selling down the bonds led to increased profits to the Central Bank. The bulk of these profits are then returned to the exchequer via an annual dividend. The December 2014 sale led to a €180 million gain to the Central Bank and each of the two recent transactions will have yielded similar or greater profits.

The writer goes on to note that there is a minor downside to all this: 

However there is also a cost to the State of early disposal, as the interest paid on the bonds by the NTMA is now paid to a third party, and not the Central Bank, as was the case with the special floating rate bonds. The Central Bank argued in its note that this interest rate gain of holding on to the notes and refinancing them at a slow rate could be offset in future if interest rates rise and it cost the NTMA more to raise replacement debt.

So there we have it, another €500m bond ‘cancelled’, resultant ‘profit’ of another €180m (if not more!) for the exchequer, albeit we are now paying interest to a third party for the lifetime of the bond.

MISSING from this report however is the most crucial point of all, the whole raison d'être for this entire exercise – what happened to the €500m that the Central Bank received to enable the ‘cancelation’ of that bond? What happened to the €500m – real money, even if it is all borrowed – that it received in June?

That money was destroyed, every last cent. A broke and broken heavily indebted country borrowing billions, to destroy. An ECB Quantitative Squeezing programme imposed on Ireland, even as that same ECB is engaged on a trillion-euro Quantitative Easing programme for the rest of the Eurozone.

MISSING also from the Irish Times report, the fact that beginning in 2038 and in chunks of billions, future generations of Irish citizens will begin paying off the €28.3bn worth of bonds now being sold and ‘cancelled’ by the Central Bank/NTMA. And for what? To bail out the failed creditors of the failed Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, at the behest of the ECB/European Commission, to prevent a contagion of bank collapse throughout the EU.

The ultimate cost of all this to generations of Irish citizens will run into many tens of billions. When this is presented as a good-news story, what does that say about the ‘Paper of Record’? But sure look, what's a little omission between friends...

For 233 weeks – four and a half years – we in the Ballyhea Says No campaign have been battling to shed a light on the gross injustice that has been done to Ireland vis-à-vis the bank-debt in the name of the EU. This Irish Times article is a perfect example of what we’re up against. 

The best chance we have is that over and over again, people share blogs such as this, where the half-truths are filled out, the full truth is told.