“If you tell a lie big enough and repeat it often enough, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can deceive the people about the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie and thus by extension the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” That was Joseph Goebbels, the man who perfected the dark art of propaganda during the darker days of the Third Reich. Joseph has a lot of very worthy successors in Frankfurt today but I’m taking a leaf – of sorts – from his book, repeating over and over this quote above, refuting over and over the lies, repeating over and over the truth.
FIVE BIG LIES WE’RE BEING TOLD
1. 1) In November 2010 Ireland was bailed out by the troika. Wrong. When the ECB came to town in November 2010 it was with a singular aim – protect its own, ensure the bonds that were owed by the Irish banks to its banks were paid in full, the tab to be picked up by the people. We bailed out the ECB, not the other way around, and it’s costing us tens of billions.
2. 2) The austerity programme is to get us back to the financial market – another lie. It was the bank debt burden, when piled on top of our own sovereign debt burden, that squeezed us from the markets in the first place; it’s the bank debt burden that is keeping us from the markets – without it we would already be on the road to recovery. The austerity programme? The austerity budgets over the next four years (3.8 + 3.5 + 3.1 + 2) = €12.4bn, exactly the same amount as the Promissory Notes for the same four-year period (3.1 x 4), which begs the question – our austerity, for whose benefit? All that sacrifice and suffering for just four instalments of the 21 due to the year 2031, for just two of our zombie banks, Anglo and Irish Nationwide. Now we're hearing talk of 'restructuring'; that's the ECB simply restating its position - 'I'll do everything I can to lighten your load but I'm not getting off your back'.
3. 3) The Irish banks were saved for the good of our economy – this is a juicy one. The Irish banks – all six of them – were saved so they could continue to pay bonds to the international financial institutions who loaned them the money that fuelled the fires that then engulfed our economy. Five of those banks – AIB, Anglo (I refuse to call it by any other name), Bank of Ireland, EBS and Irish Life & Permanent – are still paying out bonds on a weekly basis; €19bn in 2012, €17bn in 2013, €55bn in the four years 2012-2015 (incl). From where comes that money? Directly (recapitalisation) or indirectly (fees, mortgage interest etc.), it comes from us.
4. 4) We had no choice, we HAD to pay the bank bonds or a) we’d never be allowed back in the markets and b) the ECB would pull the plug on us – nonsense, both claims. Iceland got a choice; their President ensured they got a referendum after their politicians had bought the same line from the banks as did ours, and had already agreed to sell out their country to the bankers as did ours. However, in the face of all the same Armageddon threats we still hear here on a daily basis, the people of Iceland voted against the deal; they burned their bondholders, allowed their banks to fail, and started over. Now, less than three years on, they are in growth, unemployment falling, credit-rating rising, paying back their debts early. Then you look at Greece; met none of its targets yet the ECB did everything in its power to ensure that Greece stayed within the euro – why? So the Greek people could continue to pay the banks of France and Germany, even at a reduced rate. Does anyone really believe anymore the ECB would have thrown us to the wolves if we had refused to pay a debt that wasn’t ours?
5. 5) We all partied – even Enda sings that tune. No, we didn’t all party. There was a feelgood factor for a few years in the early Noughties as Ireland began to pick itself up, a smile on people’s faces in what was initially a genuine expansion. Then the wideboy bankers took over, Delboy dealers who found themselves with access to all sorts of cheap billions from Europe’s bigger banks and scattered it about like snuff at a wake. Ordinary punters who went for mortgages of €200k came out with €300k, no fuss no scrutiny; big developers were given millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, to engage in bidding wars against each other for real estate that was rapidly heading off the scale. Yes, there were those in their thousands and tens of thousands who partied, puked and pissed their way through the boom, but there were also those many more of us who did not. Trace everything back, the buck for all this mess stopped with those big financial institutions who so recklessly lent those tens of billions into the Irish economy; those were private deals between consenting adults whose duty it was to be as aware of the risks as of the rewards. If there WAS a mass party those major financial institutions were the hosts, they were the ones who supplied all the drugs and alcohol. It was their billions, their greed-induced blindness to what was happening – where was THEIR due diligence? Their investments failed, this is their loss; they should be made to pay – we don’t want to risk ‘moral hazard’, now do we?
Know the truth. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda, don’t be intimidated by the lies. What’s happening to Ireland is extortion, the ECB forcing us to pay a debt that isn’t ours, that will never rightfully be ours. In Ballyhea and Charleville we proclaim that simple truth again and again, we protest that gross injustice. Right WILL prevail. This Sunday again, in Charleville, 11.30am, we march.
Regards, Diarmuid O’Flynn