Many times over the last 70 weeks of the Ballyhea bank bondholder bailout protest I've been asked why it is that there isn't mass protest all over Ireland at what's being done to us, the imposition of an additional debt burden to satisfy the ECB's diktat that every bondholder in every bank must be paid in full, a burden that currently stands at €67.8bn or €14,799 for every resident of this state,
There are many reasons people aren't on the streets but one of the most shameful is the part being played by our national media - all elements of it - in spreading a false gospel; last week offered the perfect example.
Two zombie banks, Anglo Irish and INBS, paid out two bonds each, the four of which amounted to over €1.1bn, each of which was unsecured, unguaranteed. That €1.1bn is our money, comes from our pockets, yet in a week in which there were yet more announcements of cuts and projected cuts to the budgets of the weakest in our society there was no outcry from our national media, no major big-spread investigations into how, where, why, who.
On Friday morning, after those bonds had all been paid, at the end of another EU Summit in Brussels to try to solve this ongoing crisis (the 20th over the last few years), I was on my way to Clare when the news came on the radio, a breathless announcement - major breakthrough after an all-night session, Kenny and his doughty team had secured a major victory for Ireland in Europe on the issue of bank debt.
Brilliant news, fantastic news - now watch this country soar!
If only it were true. Once again our media almost en-masse hadn't bothered to question what they were being told by Enda and the rest, once again what we got was straight, undiluted government spin, once again we were completely betrayed by our fourth estate.
In the 307-word statement issued by the EU on that Friday morning there isn't a single word informing of a single cent of either debt writedown or debt writeoff for Ireland. There's a sentence in there that got people excited: When an effective single supervisory mechanism is established, involving the ECB, for banks in the euro area the ESM could, following a regular decision,have the possibility to recapitalize banks directly. I see two very big words in there - 'could' and 'possibility'.
Further on we get a mention - 'The Eurogroup will examine the situation of the Irish financial sector with the view of further improving the sustainability of the well-performing adjustment programme'. Will someone please explain to me how that can be parlayed right now into us getting any kind of debt writedown or writeoff, how anyone can claim with any kind of certainty that we're going to benefit to the tune of billions?
The reality of our situation is that we still have that massive bank debt burden, we still have those odious Promissory Notes to pay (in full, including the coupon/interest), we are still paying off every single bond from every single bank. If it's decided to apply those bank bailout conditions retrospectively (and with the likes of Belgium, Spain, Italy and even Germany itself then all likely to be looking for backdated billions that they have poured into their banks, that is by no means certain), there is a possibility that with a little imaginative financial engineering (buzzwords for Enda these days) we'll be able to take that bank debt off the sovereign books and make ourselves look better for the almighty markets. The actual debt, however, will still remain, we'll still be paying it all off.
It's like this my friends; we've been lumped with a mortgage we never took out on a house we never owned and now, with the possibility of a change of mortgage-holder, we're all supposed to celebrate. Not in Ballyhea. Our protest goes on, 12 more reasons why below.