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.