Since Sunday March 6th 2011, over four years ago, a small group of determined people have marched every week in protest at the imposition of private bank-debt on the Irish people.
During that period, recognising that this was an issue on which our government was not going to be of any assistance, the protest morphed into a self-funded self-propelled campaign.
We have been to the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt (old and new), we’ve been to Brussels and met and argued with senior officials from:
1 The European Commission (senior economist Istvan Szekely, with responsibility for Ireland);
2 The European Council (Shahin Vallée, economic adviser to then President Herman Van Rompuy);
3 The European Parliament (Sharon Bowles MEP, then head of the ECON committee);
4 Submitted a Petition to the Petitions Committee;
5 Formally presented Ireland’s case to the GUE/NGL parliamentary group (has 52 MEPs).
1 We have twice met and argued our case with Patrick Honahan, then head of the Central Bank, on the second occasion accompanied by two MEPs (Luke Ming Flanagan and Nessa Childers) and two TDs(Peter Mathews and Stephen Donnelly);
2 Met and argued Ireland’s cause for nearly two hours with senior ECB Troika representatives, the first and so far only group to ask directly for debt write-down;
3 Had a Private Member’s Bill brought before the Dáil (house of parliament);
4 Hosted several major public information/conference events;
5 Been featured on several international newspaper/radio/TV and documentary programmes.
MONEY TO BURN
Already this year the Central Bank of Ireland has destroyed €1.5bn, part of the legacy of the infamous Promissory Note debt, which itself is only part of the €69.7bn total bank-debt imposed on the Irish people.
The Promissory Note debt is the €31bn created in 2009/10 to bail out the creditors of two failed zombie Irish banks, Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, €31bn that the ECB now insists Ireland take back out of circulation, thus the ongoing destruction.
To date €5.5bn has been destroyed (€3bn 2011; €1bn 2014; €1.5bn 2015); the Central Bank is still holding €25.5bn worth of Promissory Note bonds, all awaiting sale, all those billions then destroyed but all the resulting interest to be paid by the next several generations of Irish people, the principal repaid through the 2040s and into the 2050s. This MUST be stopped.
AN INQUIRY SET UP TO FAIL
This week the watered-down result of the watered-down Banking Inquiry is emerging, one of the proposals from which is that the Irish government should bring the ECB to court on the strong-arm tactics (we say blackmail tactics) that were used to force Ireland to accept the entirety of the bank-debt, no burden-sharing allowed.
We agree with this proposal but we go further. The government should immediately challenge the ECB on the continued sale of the Promissory Note bonds, should press for their destruction and additionally, should demand the recreation of the €5.5bn already destroyed.
It should be understood, however, Ireland is not unique. This government-sponsored transfer of debt from the few to the many and the reciprocal transfer of wealth from the many to the few is happening globally, to the extent that 80 people – about enough to fill a double-decker bus – now has more wealth than half the world’s population combined.
That concentration of wealth, and the power that goes with it, is accelerating in recent years, and it’s not accidental – it’s orchestrated.
The proliferation of tax havens (of which we are one) facilitating tax avoidance by the wealthiest individuals and the major global corporations; the growing number of massive international ‘trade’ agreements that facilitate the erosion of labour rights, the reduction of protections to environment, food production and quality, the privatisation of what were public services – water, health, education, energy etc; ALL of this is facilitated by captured, compliant legislators in thrall to the powerful and their disproven philosophy of ‘trickle-down’ economics. The only thing trickling down is pain; meanwhile, the wealth is flooding up.
It’s all part of the race to the bottom and with their ‘inducements’ (bribes) to the multinationals, to the sharks and vultures of the finance world, successive Irish governments have been leading that charge.
CHANGE STARTS WITH YOUR VOTE
We need to change this, we need national politicians who look beyond themselves or their party and see the bigger picture.
In the upcoming general election I will be standing as an Independent Alliance candidate in Cork North-West and if elected, one of the first priorities will be to form an all-party (or failing that, a cross-party) committee to negotiate with the European Commission/ECB/Eurogroup on Ireland’s bank debt.
Meanwhile, through all the above we’ve been marching every week and on occasion, several times a week.
This coming Sunday, December 13th, is week 250. As usual we will be meeting at 10.30am, this week in Ballyhea; as usual, hail rain or shine, we will march.
Afterwards we'll meet in the nearby Charleville Park Hotel to discuss how far we’ve come, where we’re going to go from here. This is a call to all those who have occasionally marched with us, who have wanted to march with us but couldn’t, to join us for this one significant day.
Our marches are quiet, dignified, without chants or fanfare, non-threatening, non-violent, minimal disruption to traffic. They should NOT, however, be underestimated. We have an iron determination, an unbreakable will, and the weekly march – small as it may be – underpins everything we do. We will win this battle.
Regards and thanks,