February 23rd 2011
At the height of the insanity that sank the Irish economy, when Irish banks were giving out money like there was no tomorrow (and there’s always tomorrow), the sharks of the international financial world smelled a little blood and moved in for yet another killing, easy money. ‘Ye want more billions?’ they asked our naive Irish banks, ‘Here ye are, at the usual rates of course.’ Thus was the fire fuelled, the fire that eventually incinerated the Irish banking system and with it the Irish economy. But, what happened to the international loan sharks? Burned also, right? Wrong. Should have been right, but no – wrong.
A few months ago, the Irish government, through the twin Brians (Cowen and Lenihan) ‘negotiated’ (very loose term, in this instance) a deal with the IMF and the ECB whereby we, the Irish people, this generation and the next several generations, would assume the debt of the sharks, in its entirety. Not alone that but we would also pay interest on it, and not alone would we pay interest on it but because we were now so debt-ridden and thus such a bad bet, we would now also pay a premium on that interest, an extra 3% premium, penal all by itself.
The German and the French governments, their representatives on the ECB especially, have been playing the Mammy and the Daddy in this debacle; ‘Bad child!’, they’ve been saying to us, the foolish Irish, ‘Bold child! Irresponsible child! To be so reckless with your money, to have so wasted the fantastic gains you were making in the last decade! Now, you must pay the price.’ But, hang on a second – who gave our banks the money to give to us? Who supplied the explosives that eventually blew our property market to Kingdom Come?
‘Get on the property ladder NOW or you'll be too late,’ our young people were told, ‘Buy that apartment/house NOW, for tomorrow it will be twice the price!’ Thus panicked, our young people bought and were even persuaded to take a few extra bob to furnish the house and buy the new 4x4 they would surely need to bring the young family the mile or so to school.
‘Invest in that second home!’ our middle-aged middle-income earners were told, ‘Get into the market – you've earned it, you deserve it, this will be your pension, your fail-safe additional retirement plan.’ And in we went, in our innocent and ignorant droves, trusting the advice of our bankers and financiers. But, follow this flooding euro-river back to the source – who was supplying the Irish banks with all this excess cash? And excess it was, excessive it was. Why did those who were loaning this money to the Irish banks not see then what everyone can see now, that this was a bubble getting bigger and bigger, and that when it burst it was going to take the Irish economy with it? Why didn’t the sharks see that? Because they too were blind, blinded by their own greed.
So now, Mammy and Daddy in Berlin and Paris, I ask ye – in this debacle, who was most reckless of all? And I ask further, by what moral, legal or political reasoning should we, the Irish people, now pay the private debts accrued to those sharks? We will pay our own debt, our sovereign debt, and that’s debilitating enough, but why should we have to pay this?
At the moment, across all of North Africa, people are taking to the streets in protest at their governments, and in the process taking their lives in their hands. I am calling now for the Irish people to rise up against this obscenity, this abomination, this so-called ‘agreement’ which is in fact an imposition, a blackmail note – ‘Pay us, or we’ll sink your economy, your country.’
Next Sunday week, March 6th, at 12 noon, let the people congregate at the heart of every parish, village, town and city across the land, and let them take a short march down the main street/road; a silent march, no slogans, no banners, no speeches, no violence, no destruction of property public or private, no disruption of work. Just a short and silent protest, but en-masse. Enough moaning in canteens, coffee-shops, pubs and clubs; on this one issue, on this massive issue, on this totally amoral decision, a decision that will beggar this country for generations, let us protest. Half an hour, that’s all it should take; at noon, when the Angelus rings out across the nation, let those tolling bells be the signal for a new uprising, because know this – while it’s not as blatant as the Danes or the Normans heading up the estuaries in centuries past, this insidious deal is yet another ‘invasion’, another attempt to enslave the Irish.