Debt is the single biggest issue facing the citizens of this country. I publicly congratulate the “Ballyhea Says No” group which has raised this issue and kept it before the public over a long period of time, marching every week. I also congratulate the other groups around the country linked with “Ballyhea Says No” who are doing the same thing, including “Clonmel Says No”, which marches every Saturday.
The motion effectively calls on the Government to seek a write-off of the promissory note from the European authorities. I support the motion because the Government has not even sought that but I am under no illusions that asking alone will bring about a positive response. Already, the Tnaiste’s game changer has been blown away by the German authorities. Not alone will there be no agreement by other eurozone countries to shoulder any of the legacy bank-related debt of the Irish State, they have made it clear that they will not shoulder any Irish bank debt in future. There will be no serious talks about mutualising the eurozone bank debt until we stop honouring the promissory note now and in the future. It is only then that real talks will start.
The EU has placed a huge millstone around the necks of the Irish people. That millstone is called debt, debt and more debt. The bank debt of 64 billion is not the debt of the Irish people and we are not responsible for it.
It is the debt of speculating European banks and finance houses. These institutions must be made to shoulder it. Ireland must get a write-down, as the debt is a crushing burden on us, our children and our grandchildren. It has created considerable austerity. We need only consider the large unemployment and emigration figures, cuts to services, tax increases, social welfare, pay and pension cuts, increased levels of poverty, particularly among children, and high levels of mortgage distress. This is what the EU has done to Ireland, our children and our grandchildren. It must be made to declare bank-related debt a burden on all countries in proportion to their GDPs. In other words, the debt must be mutualised.
In the matter of bank debt, the EU has been singularly unfair to Ireland. The Commission’s data agency, EUROSTAT, has produced shocking figures. Ireland has taken a large hit for the rest of Europe. In terms of the cost of the banking crisis to individual member states, Ireland is at the head of the queue. The crisis has cost us in excess of 41 billion. It is worse when one views it as a percentage of GDP. We are at the head of that posse as well. The bank crisis cost us 25% of our GDP. The nearest member state in this regard is Latvia with 3%. While Ireland has 0.9% of the EU’s population and our economy represents 1.2% of the EU’s GDP, Ireland has paid 42% of the total cost of the European banking crisis. It gets worse when one considers it on a per capita basis. European statistics show that the banking crisis has cost every individual in this country 8,981. The average across the EU is 192.
Matters are actually worse, as these figures do not take into account the 22 billion from the National Pensions Reserve Fund, NPRF, that was used to address the banking crisis or the 30 billion that NAMA paid for bank loans. Our money is streaming out of the country, as are our people, including many who have been expensively educated and are highly qualified.
The claim that we will recover our sovereignty when we exit the formal bailout is a sick joke. If we cannot force the mutualisation of bank debt, we will pay approximately 4.5 billion per year under the fiscal treaty. All of the indications are that there will be no significant growth in the near future. This situation occurred previously in Irish history when British landlords bled the country dry and Michael Davitt launched a Plan Of Campaign to start the ultimately successful land war. James Connolly, who we remembered in this centenary year of the Lock-out, wrote of the need for the reconquest of Ireland. We need a new plan of campaign and a new reconquest of Ireland. Sadly, the three main political parties are in league with the EU, acting through the troika, and have sold out our economic and political sovereignty. However, I am confident that the current generation will not be found wanting when it comes to re-establishing this country’s well being, independence and sovereignty.