Working in the Community, Working for the Community

Healy calls on Government to Stop Paying Promissory Note

Connolly’s Reconquest of Ireland must be Repeated in our Day

Labour Party Deputy Leader, Joan Burton, the new Thatcher

I am speaking in support of the motion.

In a short few years, in 2016, we will commemorate the execution of James Connolly. He was opposed to the capitalist system as I am. But in Connollys day the rules of capitalism were relatively simple. If the wealthy invested wisely they made money. If they made bad investments, they lost their money.

Now we have a single market covering 27 European countries. The wealthy can invest throughout Europe without any barriers. Reagan and Thatcher boasted that capitalism had got a new lease of life. The market was king and would resolve all problems. Because of the God-like properties of the market only “light touch” regulation was necessary. Locally Harney, McCreevy and McDowell took up this mantra and Bertie followed along. Privatisation was “in” and state enterprise was “out”. State involvement in business was bad and an intrusion. There was no opposition to this general line from Fine Gael or Labour.  This revived capitalism, red in tooth and claw, would reward success and punish failure making us all more efficient and competitive.

But then came the bust.   The great apostles of free enterprise were on their knees to the previously despised state to intervene urgently in the banking business to save their bacon. The market could not be allowed to punish their failure. The rules of capitalism are always changed to suit the wealthy. While profits had been privatised through low taxes on business, now the debts were to be nationalised to protect the rich and afflict the common people. Pensioners with a little nest egg in bank shares for their old age were wiped out but the large investors who could invest through bonds and other big money instruments were “bailed out”.  The vast bulk of this large investment came through banks and finance houses outside the state. The big majority of those being bailed out by Irish citizens were not even Irish.

Connolly was right when he said that the capitalists and the ranchers and their hangers on in the labour movement cannot be trusted with Irish sovereignty and the well-being of the people.

Paying promissory notes is not just a massive drain on Irish resources. It is also an act of national betrayal.

The 64 billion borrowed by Ireland due to the banking collapse was used to rescue the investments of mainly European banks and finance houses. This debt should be the debt of the entire European financial system- it should be mutualised. Anything less than this is a betrayal of Irish sovereignty. But the government is not even seeking the slightest write-down of debt in the talks on the promissory notes. It merely seeks a lengthening of the repayment period. This will merely transfer part of the European wide debt burden on to the shoulders of future Irish generations while the European bond holders laugh all the way to the German French and British banks which were and are being bailed out by the Irish people.

The single biggest rise in government spending from 2008 to 2012 was an increase from 2 billion to 6.5 billion in debt service payments and this figure will rise further to 8.11 billion in 2013.  This increase is due to borrowing to bail out and recapitalise the banks and to fund the continuing fiscal deficit.

WUAG believes that money borrowed to cover the debts of private banks (c.64 billion) should not be repaid. A considerable portion of the debt interest payment arises from this source and this is interest alone. Interest and capital repayments will make debt servicing a crushing burden over decades to come.

But this is not all.

Due to the support given by the government to the ESM Treaty huge capital repayments must be made starting in 2015 if Ireland exits the “bail-out”

Ireland’s debt to GDP ratio is likely to be around 120% in 2015. Reducing the debt to GDP ratio by one twentieth of the excess per year, in accordance with the Treaty,  will therefore mean reducing it by 3% of GDP per year. Without significant economic growth, that means paying back €4.5 billion per year in principal. This debt cannot be “rolled-over” and replaced by new borrowing under the Treaty. It must be found from Irish resources and paid out mainly to non-Irish lenders, thus further impoverishing the Irish people. This is on top of  the €9 billion a year we will be paying in debt servicing. This debt will only be paid back on the basis of yet more savage austerity imposed on working people, which will in turn mean a worsening of the Irish economic crisis.

Any illusory “saving” through extending the repayment period on bank debt and replacing the promissory notes with a long dated bond will be dwarfed by these real crushing repayments. The government austerity policy will ensure that there is no significant growth to ease the burden.

The notion that the formal “exiting of the bail-out programme” will amount to recovery of “economic sovereignty” is also self-serving nonsense.

The combination of the ESM Treaty, other debt repayments and subservience to the market for borrowings will mean a continuation and possibly a further diminution of economic sovereignty.

The EU must be made to agree to declare the bank related debt a burden on all countries in proportion to their GDP. It should be mutualised.

Until the EU agrees to do so, bank related debt should not be repaid beginning with a refusal to pay the promissory note on March 31 next

This country is in social and economic crisis. The policies of this Government are damaging ordinary people and their families. We have our own Margaret Thatcher here in the form of Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, who is the cause of the same widespread despair and hopelessness in this country as caused by Thatcher in Britain. Children are cold and hungry at school and more are living in poverty. The Minister’s attacks on children are surpassed only by her attacks on the elderly. Just like Margaret Thatcher she is dismantling all the benefits that made life bearable for the elderly. The vulnerable, young and old, are being targeted while bankers and bondholders get off scot free.

And the policies of this government will further damage the lives of working people and will drive tens of thousands more out of the country to contribute to other economies. The drain of emigration is more damaging than the debt repayments.

Stopping the payment of the promissory notes is only a first step towards restoring national well-being and Irish sovereignty.

Like Connolly, I have no confidence in the rich and the political parties they fund to resolve this crisis in the interests of the Irish people.

Connolly, in his day, called for the Reconquest of Ireland by its people.

To-day the oppressor is the international financiers and the governments which represent their interests.

It is time to put an end to their rule through a New Reconquest of Ireland.

Let the marches on Saturday next be a good beginning but much more will be needed before the New Reconquest of Ireland by its people is completed.

Seamus Healy TD


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