Working in the Community, Working for the Community

Statement on Europe Week by Séamus Healy TD (Tipperary South, Independent)Europe Week Dáíl

The European Union has placed a huge millstone around the necks of the Irish people. The 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 and it is those institutions which must be made to shoulder it. Ireland must get a write-down of the debt, which is a crushing burden on us, our children and our grandchildren. It has created huge austerity.

We need only look at the unemployment figures of well over 400,000, which is 14% of the population, huge emigration, cuts to services, tax increases, social welfare cuts, pay and pension cuts, increased levels of poverty – particularly for children – and high levels of mortgage distress. That is what the EU, with regard to debt, has done to this country, our children and our grandchildren. The EU must be made to agree to declare bank-related debt a burden on all countries in proportion to their gross domestic products. 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 figures which are truly shocking. Ireland has taken a huge hit for the rest of Europe. If one looks at the cost of the banking crisis to member states, Ireland is at the head of the queue. The crisis has cost us in excess of €41 billion, which is ahead of every other country, including Germany.

It gets worse when one looks at it from the point of view of gross domestic product. Ireland is at the head of the posse in that context also. The bank crisis has cost us 25% of our gross domestic product. The nearest member state in those terms is Latvia, to which the cost was 3% of its gross domestic product. While Ireland has 0.9% of the EU population and its economy represents 1.2% of the EU’s gross domestic product, it has paid 42% of the total cost of the European banking crisis. It gets worse again when one looks at it in per capita terms. Again, I cite the EU’s own statistics. The banking crisis has cost every individual in this country €8,981. The average for the EU is €192 per capita.

These figures are shocking. In fact, things are even worse, as EUROSTAT does not take into account the additional €22 billion from the National Pensions Reserve Fund which was used to address the banking crisis or the €30 billion NAMA paid for banks’ loans. Our money is streaming out of the country, as are our people, including many who have been expensively educated and are highly qualified.

This has happened previously in Irish history. When British landlords were bleeding the country dry, Michael Davitt launched a plan of campaign to start a land war, which was ultimately successful. James Connolly, whose execution we commemorate next Sunday, wrote of the need for the reconquest of Ireland. We need a new plan of campaign and a new reconquest of Ireland today. Sadly, the three main political parties are in league with the European Union, acting through the troika, and they have sold out our economic and political sovereignty. I am confident, however, that the current generation will not be found wanting when it comes to re-establishing this country’s well-being, independence and sovereignty.

Watch the speech here


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