To whom it concerns, and it still concerns us all;
Again today, again after second Mass in Ballyhea, we held our protest march against what was imposed on us by the ECB last November. A bailout they called it, and bailout it was alright – a bailout of the bondholders. It wasn’t a loan either; national bondage is what it was, a people made to assume a burden that wasn’t theirs.
We have a sovereign debt which is ours, and ours alone. We can point the finger as we like for the current crisis in the public purse and there is more than enough blame to go around – the previous government, inept (at least) as it was; the unions who colluded with them in the rise and rise of the public service wage and pension bill; the ineffective opposition who themselves appeared to be unaware of the looming problems and were happy to keep their own snouts in the trough; and of course we the people, who were only too happy to take all that was being handed out. As we try to balance the books and get our house back in order we’re paying a heavy price, all of us (those at the bottom of the scale a heavier price than most, but that’s another argument), but that is our debt. As a sovereign nation, as an honourable nation, we should pay that debt, and we will.
There is another debt, however, the bank/bondholder debt that was imposed on us by the bully-boys of the ECB last November, a debt that was imported from outside. Those who staked their money on the Irish construction industry, who provided the billions to our banks to fuel the flames that now threaten to engulf us all, were at least as greedy as any single one of us here – surely now they too must feel at least the same level of pain?
There are people here who were unsecured, who have lost everything – the same rules, surely, should apply to unsecured bondholders?
There are people whose homes are now worth only a fraction of what they were worth, and who must suffer the consequences of that – those bondholders whose bonds are now worth only a fraction of the original should surely suffer the same fate, yes?
And what of the ECB itself; a currency was launched with great fanfare a few years ago but – we now know – there were serious flaws. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ interest rate, the low cost of borrowing - that contributed hugely to the inflation of the property bubble here; the fallout now as the euro comes under attack is also a fault of the incomplete thinking when the new currency was launched.
Is all of that our fault here? Demanding now – as the ECB did last November – that the Irish people, as a whole, should shoulder the full burden of all the bank/bondholder debt, is wrong.
In this small parish, we protest that wrong. It is not a political protest, it is a moral protest. Last November the ECB came in and rode rough-shod over us, and perhaps – with all their sermons on how we should conduct ourselves – they feel that underfoot is where we belong; we don’t.
We are not trying to attack our own government here, trying to undermine them – far from it. Through our stand, our march, we are offering them our backing, our support, our courage. We are a small enough group (though growing) but we believe we have the backing of the vast majority in our parish; we are a small enough parish but we believe we have the backing of the vast majority in this country. The sovereign debt is our debt, an Irish debt, and that we will pay; the bank/bondholder debt is a private debt, is a European debt, is a European problem – that debt, we will not pay, and it should never have been coupled with the sovereign debt.
We demand now that the bank/bondholder debt should be decoupled from the sovereign debt, should be dealt with separately on a European level; those who fuelled the fire here should also taste the flames. This Sunday again, and every Sunday until we get satisfaction, we will continue our protest; meet in the church car-park, march begins at 11.45am sharp. Up to the speed-limit sign and back, less than ten minutes, no placards, no sexy slogan; a small march in a small parish, but making a big point. Join us, please.
Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.