Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Last week, just as with Eamon Gilmore before the election of 2011, we had the spectacle of Labour leader Joan Burton back on the burning bondholders trail, announcing her conviction that the remaining junior bondholders in IBRC, the vulture funds, should be scorched in their bid to be paid €270m from what remains of that rotting corpse.

We had Patrick Honahan joining in the chorus, the recently resigned Central Bank Governor adding his two cents worth and advising those now dealing with what’s left of IBRC to tell those junior bondholders where to go.

And of course shouting loudest, giving both the kind of publicity of which those of us in Ballyhea who have been campaigning relentlessly against the unjust bank-debt burden for more than four years can only fantasise, our mainstream media.

Those junior bondholders shouldn't get a red cent, no question about that. But do those commentators and opinion formers in our mainstream media – any of them – not know that last year, our Central Bank destroyed €1,000m, nearly four times the amount being talked about above? Do they not know that under the terms of the Michael Noonan Promissory Note ‘deal’ of Feb 2013, our Central Bank will destroy another €500m this year, that over the coming years this annual destruction will accelerate until we have destroyed the entire €31bn legacy from that self-same IBRC?

Has Joan Burton buried somewhere in the dark recesses of her brain the fact that she and her party, without even challenge to the ECB, supported Michael Noonan and Fine Gael when he transformed that IBRC highly-debatable debt ('totally' illegal, as described by Michael himself after he had done that deal) into sovereign debt, and thus transferred the burden from their own shoulders to the shoulders of the next generation and the generation after?

Does Patrick Honahan not see the supreme irony in him now playing tough with these junior bondholders when he – without even a whimper of protest to the ECB – was the one who ultimately destroyed that €1,000m of borrowed money last year?

For those of us in the Ballyhea campaign, this collusion between the Minister, the Governor and the media is mind-boggling, it truly is. They trumpet one message even as they simultaneously bury a similar story of far, far greater significance.

Nobody. And this is probably the most frustrating of all points. That €31bn is already in circulation, a drop in the ocean when one considers the Quantitative Easing programme on which the ECB has just embarked. If those bonds are destroyed, or even held in the Central Bank to die a natural death, no-one gets burned, no bondholder is made to suffer. More critically, however, the Irish people aren't made to suffer for a crime we never committed.

  • They were born in 2010 when, in the absence of any official EU mechanism to deal with insolvent banks, the then government of Fianna Fáil/Greens, the Central Bank of Ireland and the ECB colluded to bail out the failed investors in two failed Irish banks, Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide;
  • The final bill came to nearly €31bn and it has been presented in full for payment by the Irish people;
  • The payment comes in the form of money destruction – the €31bn was created to bail out those creditors; now, because the banks were insolvent (as was well known at the time), the ECB has called in the Promissory Notes and that entire €31bn has to be taken back out of circulation;
  • We don't have that €31bn so we borrow it in the form of bonds (the Noonan Promissory Note 'deal'), which are then sold into the market per a schedule that was drawn up in Feb 2013 – it started last year, two bonds of €500m each;
  • As those bonds are sold, the money raised is destroyed;
  • We begin repaying those bonds in 2038, the final bond maturing in 2053;
  • In the meantime we pay the interest on those bonds;
  • The final cost, taking into account the total original sum of €31bn plus the interest, will depend on money market conditions but we won't see much change from €80bn, an average of around €2bn/yr for the next 40 years.
If we don't act, if we don't protest as a people, as a nation, then this doesn't become just the legacy of this government to future generations of Irish people, it becomes OUR legacy to our children.

Is that what you want? Because in the Ballyhea, in Charleville, in Ratoath, in Dublin, in Tralee, in Killarney, in Fermoy, in Clonmel, in so many other pockets of resistance around the country, we say NO!

On July 1st, to highlight the above injustice and in an attempt to bring it into the spotlight, a delegation from the Ballyhea Says No campaign is heading to the European Parliament in Brussels to meet with MEPs. We have two meetings arranged, the first with the GUE/NGL group of 52 MEPs, the second an open meeting with MEPs from all other groups, including (we hope) the four Fine Gael MEPs.

The crusade continues…