Saturday, 23 April 2016

100 years after 1916 - reclaim the legacy

There’s an article in today’s Sunday Business Post headlined ‘Irish Central Bank plans €1.7 billion profit to State’, with the sub headline below that which proclaims - ‘Windfall stems from sale of bonds linked to Anglo liquidation’.

This is a story that we in the Ballyhea Says No campaign have been tracking for some time and believe me, there’s a lot more to it than what you’ll read in this article, or indeed in any of the similar articles that have appeared on this issue over the last few years in publications such as the Irish Times. It all stems from the bailout of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society in 2010, the creation of €31bn using the Promissory Notes, €31bn that now the ECB insists has to be taken back out of circulation.

What’s being reported is this:

  • The Central Bank is selling off the IBRC bonds (what we call the Promissory Note bonds, the fruit of Michael Noonan’s 2013 sleight of hand when he replaced the Promissory Notes with those sovereign bonds) in tranches of €500m, for a profit; 
  • That portion of the IBRC Promissory Note debt is then ‘cancelled’.

In 2014 the Central Bank of Ireland sold off two such bonds; in 2015 they sold four more, a total value of €6bn, from which sales stem the profit. With the ‘cancellation’ of those bonds, the value of the IBRC debt has fallen from €28bn to €22bn. 

All fine and dandy, and all true.

But it’s not the full truth, nor even the half of it.

What’s NOT being reported is this:
  • The purchaser of the Central Bank IBRC bonds is NTMA, our National Treasury Management Agency; 
  • They are buying those bonds with money they’ve raised from the markets – borrowed money, on which we are now paying interest and which in time, will have to be repaid in full; 
  • The ‘profit’ the Central Bank of Ireland is making is thus made from the NTMA – one national agency making a ‘profit’ from a transaction with another national agency; 
  • That ‘profit’ goes to the exchequer, but it’s money that has already been borrowed – by us; 
  • And the €500m that the Central Bank of Ireland also receives from the NTMA, the means by which the IBRC debt is ‘cancelled’? It’s destroyed, taken out of circulation.
·       So, to summarise: 
  • The National Treasury Management Agency uses a borrowed €680m to buy a €500m IBRC bond (they’ve increased in value since they were issued three years ago – don’t ask!); 
  • The Central Bank of Ireland destroys €500m of that €680m, per the terms of the Michael Noonan Promissory Note ‘deal’, to satisfy the ECB (it thus destroyed €1bn of borrowed money in 2014, then €2bn in 2015, is holding €22bn awaiting the same fate);
  • It gifts the balance of €180m to the exchequer – the profit.
The question then – why doesn’t the Sunday Business Post report all this? Why not the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, the Irish Examiner, RTE – anyone? Why don't they look behind their own headlines and find the full story?

Today is the exact 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. Those men and women who took to the streets of Dublin fought for ideologies that I don’t think our current political leadership don’t even begin to understand. Freedom? Independence? Casting off the yoke of a foreign empire? Control of your own destiny as a nation, your own finances, your own decisions?

They have surrendered that hard-fought freedom, that blood-won independence; in allowing themselves be bullied and browbeaten into accepting debt that was never ours, debt such as the €31bn Promissory Notes, they have saddled their own people with another yoke, another empire.

They don’t it yet though, but another Rising has begun.