On January 27th 2013 we will mark a milestone we never wished to see, week 100 of the Ballyhea & Charleville bank bailout protest. Every week since March 6th 2011, sometimes several times a week (with the exception of Christmas week 2011, when we gave ourselves a well-earned rest), we have marched in protest against the immoral and unjust imposition of private bank debt on the shoulders of the Irish people.
The figures are huge, highlighted lately in an illuminating article by UNITE economist Michael Taft in thejournal.ie. According to Eurostat, the EU Commission’s data agency, the cost of the bank bailout so far from Ireland’s general government budget has been €41bn. We have 0.9% of the EU population, our economy is 1.2% of the EU GDP, yet according to the official Eurostat figures we’ve paid 42% of the total cost (so far) of the European banking crisis.
It’s critical to remember here also that Eurostat does NOT include the €21bn taken from our National Pension Reserve Fund nor the potential remaining exposure to €27bn of NAMA bonds which are guaranteed by the State, nor yet the interest lost on the Pension funds, nor the interest being paid on the borrowings, nor the ‘coupons’ being paid on the bank bonds which are all still being paid in full; when all that is taken into account, we’re off the charts.
It’s not just about the numbers, however, eye-watering as they are; it’s about the principle. As a nation we’re being robbed, we’re being beggared, we’re being enslaved to pay debts that are not ours, were never ours, will never rightfully be ours. As Lincoln said, that which is morally wrong can never be made politically right. By the same token, that which is legal isn't always legitimate.
Private Irish banks issued bonds to private banks in other jurisdictions, for-profit deals made between consenting adults. Blinded by greed, those foreign banks and financial institutions didn’t see the bubble their hundreds of billions were creating in this tiny economy, they abdicated the most basic responsibility of any for-profit lender – they didn’t do a proper check to see where the money was going, whether it could be repaid. Inevitably, the bubble burst. In the early years of the boom those foreign banks and financial institutions were more than happy to take their profits; they must also take their losses.
At the end of February 2011 we elected a new government, one which promised to tackle head-on this problem, one which promised burden-sharing. We know now what they meant. Their stated intention is that the bank debt burden will be shared NOT with the banks, but with future generations of the people of this country. There will not be one cent of debt writedown, just an extension of term, maybe an improvement in conditions.
Unless we stand and fight now, that will be our legacy to our children, our legacy even to our children’s children if this government succeeds in extending the payment to several decades, again as is their stated aim. This is our problem but rather than face it, this government plans to take out loans to be repaid by future generations. Are you happy with this?
To mark week 100 of our protest we are trying to build a national coalition, a coming together of every strand of Irish society – left, right, centre, new Irish and established, male and female, young and old – to resist this enslavement.
On Saturday January 26th, 8pm at the Charleville Park Hotel, we have an open free meeting at which will speak Michael Taft (referenced above), Constantin Gurdgiev, Luke Ming Flanagan, Declan Ganley, many others too numerous to mention.
On Sunday January 27th, starting in Ballyhea at 11.30am, the week 100 protest march, continued at 12.30pm in Charleville. Join us. It is the Troika’s ambition that when they finally leave here they will leave behind this legacy of bank debt, reparations to be paid for decades by us, the people, for a war we never fought. In the ‘Ballyhea Says No’ campaign it is our ambition that they will leave with what they came with – nothing.
The final few lines from Pearse’s ‘The Rebel’:
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give.
Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed,
Tyrants, hypocrites, liars!
Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.