Monday, 25 February 2013

Ireland says NO! to BANK DEBT

It started in Ballyhea on March 6th 2011, was taken up by Charleville and Fermoy some weeks later; now, two years on, it is becoming a national movement – Ireland says NO! to BANK DEBT.
In the last couple of weeks we know of protests that have started up in Tralee, Killarney, Ratoath, Clonmel, Ennis and Tulla; we know also that people in Skibereen, Cobh, Midleton, Tipperary, Nenagh, Cahir, Galway, Wicklow, Dublin are in the process of starting their own weekly protests, joining the growing swell of people who refuse to be saddled with this odious debt.

Know the magnitude and yet the simplicity of what has been done to us over the last five years; €69.7bn of what was private bank debt has been foisted on us, the people. Those were bonds, interbank gambles between consenting adults who (we presume) had read the fine print which normally applies to any such financial speculation – warning, your investment may fall as well as rise. While they proved profitable the investing banks and financial institutions were more than happy to take those profits back to the various countries in which they were based; when the bubble inflated by  their tens of billions burst (as was inevitable) they should then have taken their losses.

They didn’t. Thanks to the abuse of its financial muscle by the ECB, thanks to the ineptitude of successive Irish governments, we have now been forced into paying loans we never took out, loans from which this country never benefited, and we’ll be paying for at least 40 years, for even longer when those loans are then ‘rolled over’ again. Debt slavery for generations, for debt that was never ours.

There is no moral justification for this – none. The reasons advanced are spurious – no, we did NOT all party; no, making it legal doesn’t make it legitimate, no more than making apartheid legal makes it legitimate – remember, most of what the Third Reich did was ‘legal’.

This is odious, illegitimate debt. By any objective definition it is an obscenity, the people bailing out not just private industry but the most wealthy, the most greedy, the most voracious, the most murky private industry of all, the new and unregulated banking and finance industry. 

Extending the terms of payment is merely extending the wrong. If you're not saying NO! to this then by your silence you acquiesce, by your silence you are saying YES, yes to all the cuts, yes to all the new taxes (including the Home Tax), yes to the continuing austerity, yes to debt slavery for you and for your kids.

Join the movement, Ireland says NO! Come to us in Ballyhea and Charleville this weekend, to the Charleville Park Hotel on Saturday evening, 8pm (free admission); learn from economists Constantin Gurdgiev and Michael Taft, hear independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan explain how we can get involved politically; come to us in Ballyhea on Sunday morning, 11.30am at the church car-park, and learn how to set up and maintain a regular weekly protest in your own parish/village/town/city. Say NO! to bank debt, say NO! to debt slavery for debt that isn’t ours.

Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


Here is a letter from a young Irish citizen to our President, Michael D Higgins, imploring him not to sign into law the IRBC emergency Bill as presented to him in the early hours of Thursday, February 7th 2013. It is one of a number of letters from those who have marched with the Ballyhea Says No protest over the past 103 weeks to our various politicians asking them to vote against the continuing bailout of banks at the expense of the people.

The letter was titled 'A nation's plea regarding IBRC Corporation Bill 2013'.

Dear President Higgins,

I hope this finds you well.
I am writing this email to you imploring you not to sign the IBRC Resolution Corporation Bill 2013 into law. In a week when another of Ireland's awful ghosts has been revealed in the form of the Magdalene laundries, I am genuinely asking you to consider the People of Ireland; to put them first above bondholders, above party politics, above the recklessness of the financial markets and to ensure our next generations are not asking how this came to be as we are asking likewise of the McAleese report.

Tonight, I felt sick to the pit of my stomach when the news started to break about this emergency legislation and what it would entail. The last time I felt that disillusionment and anger was when both Brian Lenihan and Brian Cowen continually lied to us regarding the IMF/EU bailout rumours. On the back of this bewilderment, I drove from Meath into Kildare St where I met with a handful of others: all stunned as to how this could be happening again. How this scene of hurriedly passing legislation has been allowed to repeat itself. Nobody has had a chance to fully digest this legislation and all it entails. I then drove through the park and looked in at the candle in the window and I made a wish. Silly? Possibly. Desperate? Without doubt!

The underlying debt of Anglo and Irish Nationwide is not the Irish People's to repay. It is an odious debt, foisted upon us by people we have never met, people who will never answer to us or our children at the voting polls. You, President Higgins, of all people will know that this is not democracy. It is not what our forefathers envisioned for their people when they fought to secure their country for future generations. You have a real chance to change our direction, to change the fate of not only this current generation of Irish but future generations also. We may well hope this enormous debt will fade away with inflation over the years but the underlying principle is clear cut. It is wrong what Europe and, in particular, what the ECB has made the Irish nation take on. I believe it speaks volumes as to where their loyalties lie as an organisation of minds and policies. People are not the priority here. If we were, capitalism would have been allowed to play out as it was meant to. Private banks would have closed, market players would have taken their losses and the Irish people would have retained some chance of a fair future.

Instead, cuts are getting deeper, the cost of living is increasing; small businesses are closing up as rents remain stubbornly high amongst other costs and the Irish people are being robbed of the opportunity to pay down their own personal debts. So many people want to pay their mortgage but the option has been taken from them. We didn't party. The Sean Fitzpatricks of this country did but not those in middle Ireland. And those in Poor Ireland never got a look in. It is all wrong President Higgins- from start to finish-from the bailout of 2008 to this frightening episode tonight. And everybody from Wall St to Sheriff St knows it. Please stop it on behalf of the people. We will take the consequences- they have to be better than a never ending spiral of debt. The Government have lost their mandate. They made many promises they simply haven't kept. The People are awakening to this. Please follow the lead taken by Iceland. President Grímsson made many enemies when he stood up for the people but they respected his strength and honesty so much they petitioned for him to run for a fourth term in office. What a magical scenario. So it can be done, has been done and really should be done. For the people who voted you to be the guardian of our rights. You are our final hope.

I hope this letter or another or a thousand others somehow helps to convince you to do the right thing. For the People of Ireland. It is not about short term gains but long term achievements such as justice and fairness. This is all we can ask for.

Wishing you the best of luck in your decision,
***** Farrelly (does not wish to have her full name revealed).

President Higgins signed the legislation; his office sent a standard reply to Ms Farrelly.

Friday, 8 February 2013


Many times in the last few days I've been asked if the recently announced deal with the ECB means the end of the Ballyhea protest. The short answer is no, absolutely not - quite the contrary, it means we'll simply have to ramp up our protest, try to get the Irish people to see the truth of what has just happened.

Oh, this deal will suit many. 

If you're one of those who believes it's an acceptable gambit to have an opening negotiation position where you concede without discussion the major point (we never even asked for a debt write-down), then yes, this is a deal for you.

If you're one of those who believes it's an acceptable tactic to negotiate a deal whereby the odious bank debt burden is partially lifted from your shoulders and passed on to your children, and their children, then yes, this is a deal for you.

If you're one of those who believes it's acceptable for 0.9% of the EU population to pay 55% of the total European bank bailout (using the actual €69.7bn figure as opposed to Eurostat's €41bn), then yes, this is a deal for you.

If you're one of those who believes it's okay to be blackmailed into accepting a debt that isn't ours, private bank debt transposed under threat to sovereign debt, then yes, this is a deal for you.

None of us in the Ballyhea/Charleville protest are of that mind. While we have no problem accepting that this is the best deal our weak, inept, incapable negotiators were able to get from the ECB, we do NOT accept that this was - or IS - the best deal possible.

You don’t accept they were weak, inept? If you’re one of those who believe that because the ECB has never conceded debt write-down to any country then we shouldn’t even ask for it, then yes, this is a deal for you. Using that cowardly, defeatist logic, however, two years ago, because Kenny Egan was going for 11 Elite national titles in succession 17-yr-old Joe Ward had no business even stepping into the ring with this boxing giant. Over the next few weekends the Elite national boxing championships take place; young Joe will be seeking his third title in a row.

That the ECB has never given debt write-down to any national government to date is irrelevant; our case - as has been admitted time and again by Europe itself - was special, unique. We were first in line in this European banking crisis, we were forced to take a massive hit, as a result of which we now have this crushing €69.7bn legacy debt. Make no mistake about it, we have a strong case and even still, we have every chance of succeeding. If we take them on.

That’s what we’re doing in Ballyhea and in Charleville, that’s what we’ve done for the last 102 weeks. The only acceptable deal to us in this protest is a write-down of that debt.

Contrary to the way Noonan and Kenny conducted their negotiations, we do NOT believe in conceding the key point, which is that this is not our debt, and most certainly not without even introducing the topic.

Contrary to the thinking of Noonan, Kenny, Gilmore and Rabbitte and the rest of the FG/Lab/FF conglomerate, we do NOT believe it's acceptable to ease our burden by passing it on to our kids and their kids, a debt which we argue is not ours, but which everyone can surely agree is most certainly not theirs.

Contrary to the thinking of our political masters, we do NOT believe it's acceptable for 0.9% of Europe's population to pay 55% of the bank bailout debt.

Contrary to the thinking of those same political masters, we do NOT believe it's okay to be blackmailed/bullied/strong-armed into taking on debt that's not ours. If a loan-shark foisted your neighbour’s failed €60,000 loan on your household of four, would you accept it? If that loan shark said, ‘Here, I've listened to your protests and I've decided that to ease your burden I’ll extend the terms so your children and grandchildren can share the load with you’, would you then accept that odious debt? Because if you have a household of four, that is exactly what has happened here.

What we have is short-term gain for long-term pain, a sugar-coated cyanide pill. It's not just that we've played totally into the ECB's hands; our own government, just like the government of November 2010, has again delivered us lock, stock and barrel into the greedy arms of the ECB, and its web of blackmail and deceit. 

In summary, what has just happened is this: the ECB, having imposed a debt on Ireland, having heeded our cries of protest, hasn't reduced that debt by a single cent but HAS extended the term so that the debt can now be shared by future generations. In my house, that is not acceptable; in this group, that is not acceptable. Our protest doesn't just continue, it escalates.

Week 102 this Sunday, in Charleville, meet at the Library Plaza 11.30am. Meanwhile we start building for a) the 2nd anniversary protest, March 3rd in Ballyhea and b) a visit to Brussels to put our case over there.

Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.