This week, a guest columnist, Fiona Fitzpatrick, teacher, mother of three fast-growing young kids.
THEY HAVEN'T GONE AWAY, YOU KNOW
What really happened to the promissory notes - and what you can do about our crushing bank debt, according to Fiona Fitzpatrick.
First published in the Cork IndependentWednesday, 13 November 2013
|Fiona with Brian Crowley MEP in Brussels|
I am somewhat confused by the jubilant declarations that we are poised to successfully exit the bailout.
What bailout? I ask. The term itself implies assistance, or help. It’s true that the troika loaned us €62.5 billion. But it wasn’t a gift and it came with plenty of strings attached.
More importantly, though, not one cent of that money was for the benefit of the Irish people. Look at the facts. The money came in one door and out another to repay banks and bondholders elsewhere. We got just over €60 billion in troika loans; we ploughed almost €70 billion into our banks. The banks were bailed out. The people were screwed. We got debt piled on debt, crushing not only this generation but ensuring that the next generation will remain debt slaves also.
So, I ask again – why the celebration? Look around. Everywhere, we see the result of our bank recapitalisation. High unemployment, soaring suicide rates, increased emigration, mortgage arrears crisis, cuts to payments to help the sick, the disabled, the elderly, children. We crush the very people we are supposed to protect as a society. We are draining resources from our health service, education and community projects. And for what? To repay private bank debts. Debts which were not and, are not ours.
In Ballyhea, we have been marching for 141 weeks now in protest against the bank debt burden. What started as a small weekly march has become a focused, determined campaign which has travelled from Ballyhea to Brussels, with plenty stops along the way, while all the while maintaining that weekly protest.
We have held discussions with MEPs, Sharon Bowles Chair of the ECON Committee, European Commission personnel, Council of Europe representatives and, most importantly, ECB officials. There is an acceptance everywhere that Ireland's people have had an unfair burden placed on their shoulders. And the most odious part of this debt is, without question, the now-infamous promissory notes.
Of course, we are told that those pesky notes have gone away. This is also untrue. They are hiding out in a new home, with a new name. We refer to them as the promissory note bonds. €25 billion of sovereign bonds issued in February of this year in lieu of the remaining promissory notes sit with the €3.06 billion bond also being held by the Central Bank of Ireland, payment of the 2012 Promissory note. Waiting.
If you wonder what will happen to them, it’s quite simple. They will be sold on. The money received will be destroyed. We will pay interest on them and, when the time comes, we will have to repay the money destroyed. My children will pay this debt unless they take off to far flung places, like so many young people today. The only other option is to get this debt written off.
Many people feel powerless, but the truth is we have so much more power than we think we have. Our government representatives are in power because we elected them. Whether they like it or not they are answerable to us, although many of them may need to be reminded of this.
On 26-27 November the technical group, in the Dáil, intends to put forward a private members’ motion asking the government to ask the ECB to destroy the 'promissory note' bonds. It is actually incomprehensible to me that anyone, with the people’s interest at heart, could vote against this motion but we all know how politics goes. We need to remind our local representatives that we elected them and ask them to support the technical group’s motion. This is a chance for every party to put the people first. This is a chance for us, the people, to begin the process of fixing a system that appears so badly broken. This is a chance for politicians to fight for us, and not against us.
Imagine our country with the debt burden lifted? We would have a real opportunity to soar, to reform the way we do business and to create a more equal and just society.
The bank debt burden is destroying us. €69.7billion.
So, who was bailed out? Not us, that’s for sure.
Fiona Fitzpatrick is a member of the Ballyhea Says No protest group.