Friday, 16 August 2013

THIS IS NOT A RECESSION – IT’S DAYLIGHT ROBBERY: by Féilimí Mac Pháidín


The Coalition government, and Fianna Fail before them, have been using the excuse of the Banking Collapse and the subsequent bail-out to impose what have been probably the harshest cuts and the most severe Austerity regime ever in the history of the State.

In fact, closer analysis of the situation shows that this is nothing more than a smokescreen to try and hide the fact that the so-called Austerity regime is merely an attempt to consolidate more and more wealth in the pockets of the rich at our expense.

FACT:
The income of the richest 1% in this country has actually increased during the economic crisis.

OUR REMAINING ‘PILLAR’ BANKS
While we struggle under the burden of unemployment, cuts, emigration, increased taxes and the tragedy of hugely increased suicide rates, our two main banks – AIB and Bank of Ireland – guilty parties in our banking collapse, continue to pay huge salaries to their top executives.

RICHIE BOUCHER was Chief Executive of Bank of Ireland’s retail division during the pre-crash property frenzy. Best buddies with property developers such as Sean Dunne, development loans in the bank reached a high of €7.1 billion under his watch, many of these ultimately based on overstated land values and insufficient security.

The penalty Richie has suffered for his errors? Promotion to Chief Executive Officer of Bank of Ireland and a hefty salary of €843,000 per annum or over €16,000 per week.

ARCHIE KANE, appointed part-time governor of Bank of Ireland in 2012, had previously been the Director of Lloyds insurance division in the UK when it mis-sold payment protection insurance on a stunning scale. By April of this year Lloyds had to set aside £7.9bn to cover claims from the victims of this scandal. Kane, along with four other directors, had parts of his 2010 bonus clawed back as a result.
Archie then bailed out of the UK and came to Ireland, haven for failed financiers and bailed-out banks. In his present part-time job as governor of the Bank of Ireland, Kane gets an annual salary of €349,000, or €7,000 per week. He also has a consultancy arrangement worth €59,000.

MORE FACTS – BANK OF IRELAND
  • 24 of the Bank of Ireland’s top executives are on a salary of over €400,000 each, or a minimum of €7692 per week;
  • An additional 19 of their top executives get over €300,000, which works out €5769 minimum per week;
  • 150 get over €150,000 or at least €2884 per week.

FROM A TOTAL BAILOUT BY US OF NEARLY €70bn, AIB/EBS GOT €20.7bn, BANK OF IRELAND GOT €4.7bn - IS THIS HOW THEY ARE SPENDING OUR MONEY?

EVEN MORE FACTS – AIB, NOW WHOLLY OWNED BY US
  • 4 top executives in the AIB get an annual salary of more than €400,000 which works out at a minimum of €7692 per week;
  • 8 receive more than €300,000, or €5769 per week;
  • 44 get more than €200,000 or €3846 per week;
  • 134 get more than €150,000, or at least €2884 per week.
STAYING WITH THE FACTS, AND AN INTERESTING TIMELINE 
  • In 1999, AIB’s part in the DIRT scandal was revealed, and it was forced to make a €90 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners;
  • In 2007, AIB was awarded the prize for ‘retail banking excellence’ at KPMG’s Financial Services Excellence Awards;
  • By September 2008, the bank guarantee had been announced;
  • By January 2009 AIB had to be rescued in a bailout that eventually amounted to €6.5 billion of our money.
TRUSTEE SAVINGS BANK
Senior executives of the Trustee Savings Bank recently decided to cease contributions to defined pensions benefit scheme, which means that ordinary bank workers who expected a pension of €30,000 will now only receive €5,000 per year, while the pensions of top executives will remain untouched.

NAMA
The ‘bad bank’ (our bad bank) set up to deal with loans which were not being paid back to the banks pays an average salary of €102,579. This includes salaries and/or commission to between 110 and 120 developers whose loans have been taken over by NAMA. Two of these developers are being paid as much as €200,000 per year, or €3,846 per week.

POLITICIANS’ SALARIES AND PENSIONS

ENDA KENNY gets an annual salary of €200,000, or €4,000 per week. 

If he were to resign today he would get an annual pension of €21,466 for the two years he has spent as Taoiseach, as well as more than €15,000 per year for his time spent as Minister of Trade and Tourism in the Rainbow coalition of 1994 – 1997. This would bring his pension up to nearly €37,000, or over €700 per week, on top of his TD’s salary!

EAMON GILMORE gets an annual salary of €184,405, or €3546 per week. 

If he were to resign today he would get €18,347 per year for his two years as Tánaiste, as well as nearly €7,500 for his time as junior minister in the Rainbow Coalition of the ‘90’s, bringing his annual pension up to nearly €25,847, or nearly €500 per week, again, on top of his TD’s salary!

MICHAEL NOONAN gets an annual salary of €170,000 per year, or over €3269 per week, as well as a pension of €80,685 or €1552 per week for his previous stints as TD and minister.

BERTIE AHERN gets a whopping annual pension of €152,332, or over €2929 per week.

BRIAN COWEN’s annual pension nearly matches Bertie’s: €151,062, or over €2,905 per week.

All of the above are just some of the people who got us into this financial mess, and the architects of the so-called Austerity Regime under which you and I, the ordinary citizens of Ireland, are suffering.

AUSTERITY FOR WHOM??

HERE IS A LIST OF SOME OF THE RECENT CUTS (deep breath here now...):
They came for the young…
EDUCATION CUTS
  • The embargo on recruitment to the public service has meant larger class numbers; 
  • Cuts in Resource Teaching hours; 
  • A cap on the numbers of Special needs Assistants, even though there is a 10% increase in the number of children in need of this service; 
  • 4.8% increase in the cost of educating a child (on top of increase of 9.4% last year) (CSO figures); 
  • Reduction in 3rd Level grants.
They came for the infirm (take a deep breath for this one)…
HEALTH CUTS
  • The embargo on recruitment to the public service has reduced staff numbers in the HSE by 4%, or 4,000 workers; 
  • Health Budget cut by €721m in 2013, or by more than 5%,thus bringing the health service to situation of crisis, more akin to the health service of a 3rd world economy, where the already hard-pressed tax payer feels compelled to fund-raise in order to maintain health services. This is in the wake of cuts of €1.75 billion in the previous two years; 
  • A cut of €383m to Primary Care Schemes in the last budget; 
  • Slashing of individual Hospital budgets by up to nearly 10%; 
  • Ward and bed closures; 
  • Long waits on trolleys in A & E; 
  • Unacceptably long waiting lists, with patients waiting sometimes as long as 4 years to be seen by a consultant; 
  • Cuts to Medical Card eligibility; 
  • Cancer patients now only eligible for medical cards if they are at a terminal stage of their illness; 
  • Prescription charges trebled, from 50c per item, to €1.50; 
  • Disability Services cut by 1.2%; 
  • Recent announcement by James Reilly of a further cut of €130m, with another €129m before the end of the year, and more cuts to come in 2014; 
  • Reduction in Home Help hours; Reduction in Home Care Packages; 
  • Removal of Gluten-free products and others from Medical Card and other State Reimbursement Schemes; 
  • Closure of Elderly Care public beds in Community Nursing Units, with some Community Nursing Units closed completely; 
  • Cuts in Day Services, Residential and Respite Services for the elderly and disabled.
They came for the must vulnerable in our society…
WELFARE CUTS
  • Cuts to Carers’ Allowance, and more stringent qualification criteria; 
  • Reduction in Carers’ Respite Care Grant, by €325; 
  • Cuts in Respite Care places; 
  • Cuts in Home Care Services; 
  • Cuts in Domiciliary Care Allowance; 
  • Future Cuts to Rent Allowance for pensioners; 
  • Cuts to Rural Transport Scheme; 
  • Tax introduced on Maternity Benefit; 
  • Cuts to Phone Allowance and Electricity/Gas Allowance for pensioners and other recipients; 
  • Child Benefit cut by between €10 and €20, depending on family size; 
  • Cuts to Mobility Allowance; Cuts to Mobility Grant; 
  • A cut of €50 per child on Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance; 
  • Cost of Education Allowance abolished; 
  • The duration of Jobseeker’s Benefit reduced by 3 months; 
  • Reductions in Exceptional Needs Payments; 
  • Increases in PRSI for the self-employed, abolition of employees’ PRSI-free allowance; 
  • One-Parent Family Allowance only payable until youngest child reaches the age of 10yrs (to be reduced further to 7 yrs in 2014); 
  • Reduction in Income Disregard for One Parent Family Payment by €20 per week (to be reduced by another €20 per week in 2014, and €15 in the following 2 years, bringing it to a whopping €70 per week in total by 2016).

They came for middle Ireland…

INCREASED TAXES
  • Property Tax; Carbon Tax;   
  • Septic Tank Charges; 
  • Water Charges ( to be imposed in 2014); 
  • Broadcast Tax – to replace the TV licence (to be imposed in 2015); 
  • Increased Motor Tax and VRT; 
  • Maternity Benefit to be treated as taxable income; 
  • Increased rates of DIRT, CAT, reduction in threshold for CAT.

RESULT OF THEIR POLICIES:
UNEMPLOYMENT
  • Unemployment has risen to 435,200; 
  • Official Unemployment Rates over the past 2 years have fluctuated between 13.6% and 15.1%, with emigration being arguably the single biggest factor in any reductions in the rate of unemployment;
  • Official jobless figures only include those on the Live Register, and disregard other welfare recipients, or those on various back-to work schemes, such as Tús, Job Bridge, etc.; 
  • Unofficial Rates of Unemployment are given as 20%; The IMF warned in April that Ireland “faces an acute unemployment crisis”, saying the broad jobless rate is at “a staggering 23%”, despite emigration.
EMIGRATION
  • Between April 2011 and April 2012, 87,100 people emigrated from this country. This works out at more than 7,000 per month, or over 200 per day, more than half of whom were Irish citizens. This is the highest emigration figure since the Great Famine; 
  • A 2013 survey commissioned by the National Youth Council has shown that over 300,000 people have emigrated in the last 4 years, and that over a quarter of Irish households have seen a close family member emigrate in the past two years; 
  • The Department of Social Protection website advertises nearly 1,000 jobs outside of Ireland, including excavation work in Iraq - an unemployed man in his 60’s was encouraged to take up work as a bus driver - in Malta.
SUICIDE
The official suicide rate increased by an alarming 20% in 2012 (provisional HSE figures), though the HSE’s own suicide prevention officer stated that true figure is probably 20% higher again.

Those results can be measured, but how do you measure the misery, the stress on individuals, on families, on communities? What measure is there for the loss of national dignity as our financial freedom and independence is usurped by Europe, generations condemned to debt slavery?

MEASURES THEY HAVE NOT TAKEN (full list on the TASC website)
  • Additional tax-rate targeting the high earners; 
  •  Multi-nationals paying their due taxes; 
  • Their own salaries/perks/allowances reduced to a scale commensurate with the size of the country; 
  •  A reduction in the number of Ministers and Junior Ministers;
  • A reduction in their own numbers in the Dáil.

SUMMARY
It is time we told them enough is enough, that we refuse any longer to be the fall guys for their mistakes, that we will no longer be hoodwinked by their ‘Austerity Programme’ while they and their ilk continue to line their pockets and live obscene lifestyles on grossly inflated salaries.
  • Confront your Local Representative at every possible opportunity, make life difficult for them, make your voice heard; 
  • Keep yourself informed about what’s going on – through social media, other media. 
  • Talk to your friends and neighbours – tell them what’s going on;
  • Get involved in the discussions on the social media. Encourage others to do so too; 
  • Get involved in your local Anti-Austerity campaign or any other group standing up for the rights and welfare of ordinary people; 
  • Come to the demo in Dublin on Sept 18th, the opening date for Dail Eireann, bring your friends and neighbours. Let’s make this a day to remember.
Féilimí Mac Pháidín

1 comment:

  1. Thought I couldn't get any sicker but on reading these facts am now almost totally without hope.

    ReplyDelete