Friday, 20 December 2013

THERE'S BEEN A CRASH...



You know those chilling words, “There’s been a crash…”; the sentence is left hanging, a pause as the unfortunate individual to whom the task of breaking the news has fallen allows those words sink in – just a few moments, but those moments are an eternity. 

We had it in our family 13 years ago; “It’s Tiger…”.

We had it again earlier this year – “Jack has collapsed at work…”; again those few moments, again that jolt in the pit of your guts. Your breath catches in your chest, your mind is in turmoil, your brain resisting, fearing the worst but hoping against hope. On both occasions it was the worst, two brothers gone.

IRELAND’S CRASH
As we come to the end of another year in Ballyhea of campaigning against the bank-debt, I have that same feeling. Forget the lies, the half-truths, the spin of this arrogant and ignorant government; there’s been a crash and this country was in the front seat, no safety-belt, is now in a coma and on life-support.

In the last three years, once the true extent of the damage was known there were real opportunities where we could have been saved, put on an early path to full recovery. One by one those opportunities were missed.

FORETELLING
It gives me absolutely no satisfaction in saying this, but so much that we in the various Says No campaigns have been saying is now proving correct. 

We said there could have and should have been burden-sharing with the banks and their bondholders; in the past week the IMF’s Ajai Chopra, centrally involved in the Troika agreement, confirmed that we were correct.

We said that Ireland could have and should have driven a much harder bargain than it did, that our negotiators were poor – that truth too has now emerged, confirmed by Ashoka Mody, a former IMF stalwart.

We said Ireland should have used the Fiscal Compact referendum to send a warning message to Europe, that we should have used it as leverage; instead the government couldn't wait to have it passed, another opportunity lost, trump card after trump card just thrown away. The ‘seismic’ deal trumpeted by Kenny/Gilmore/Noonan after the EU leader’s summit of June 2012? In tatters, as the EU now gives us the proverbial finger, repeatedly tells us it’s all too late, no retrospective payments.

During the last three years we’ve agreed with those who have vehemently and consistently argued against the austerity measures being imposed by this government, who have put forward fairer and better means of making cuts and of raising revenue, who have highlighted that the measures taken by this government were crushing the people, crushing the economy.

FOREBODING
Well it’s happening, and it’s happening right in front of our eyes. Insulated by their high salaries and expenses the members of this government live in a parallel universe, a world in which they believe that thanks to their superior vision, everything is on the up.

I don’t see it, I don’t feel it; what I have is this knot in the pit of my stomach, this foreboding. Government debt of over €200bn and rising, against stagnant GNP of €130bn; a growing mortgage crisis as more people stagger under a mountain of private debt; more and more cuts to vital public services; more and more regressive indirect taxation; a banking system which despite all the infusion of public billions is still not functional; depression and suicide rates on the increase; families and communities shattered as hundreds of thousands are forced to emigrate – nay, encouraged to emigrate; shamelessly masked unemployment rates; a fictitious Forbes rating, part of the propaganda spin to encourage outside investment.

QUESTION
Which brings me to a question:

The multinationals, through their practice of tax avoidance internationally, contribute hugely to the growing imbalance in the world’s wealth distribution;

The financial sector, through its greed-driven practices legal and illegal, contributed hugely to this current chaos worldwide;

Yet those are the very two sectors this government to which this government is turning for salvation – why? Where we should be trying to break from their crushing grasp this government is snuggling deeper and ever deeper.

Have we learned nothing? Surely now, rather than exposing ourselves further to the cold and merciless vagaries of global corporatism and finance we should be expending all our efforts, all our energy, in insulating ourselves against those very variations, encouraging native industry, native growth, native energy production?

HOPE, ALWAYS HOPE
I am still hoping against hope, there is still time to do the right thing. Our Central Bank is sitting on €28bn of Promissory Note debt bonds – those bonds must not be sold to the markets. That money has already been printed, it went to bail out two zombie banks, those bonds aren’t yet in private hands; given that it would be reducing our long-term debt destroying them now would have only a positive effect on Ireland’s ability to borrow money from the markets.

On the remainder of the bank bailout money what we need is unity, a national approach as we fight for Ireland’s interests in Europe. As Enda continues to run cooing to his new European 'partners' Barroso, Rehn, Van Rompuy, Merkel and co., they continute to impose this full crushing bank-debt burden on us, they continue to demand their full pound of flesh.

We need a cross-party all-party delegation of strong-willed strong-minded people (including from the Technical Group but not confined to politicians) to take those people on, a delegatin dedicated to securing bank-debt writeoff for Ireland. We need it now.

In the meantime, here in Ballyhea and in Charleville, in all the other Says No centres, we’ll keep marching every week, we’ll maintain our campaign. Happy Christmas to you all and thanks to anyone who has supported us during the past 147 weeks.

Regards,
Diarmuid O'Flynn.

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