Tuesday 25 September 2012

THE DIRTY DOZEN w/e Sep 30th 2012

In 1916 Frank Henderson, along with his brother Leo, was one of the few who stood with Pearse, Plunkett, MacDiarmada, MacDonagh, Ceannt, Clarke and Connolly in the GPO, one of the few who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedom and independence of Ireland.

On Monday of this week, Sep 24th 2012, and after a lifetime dedicated to his family, Niall Henderson, son of Frank Henderson, passed away. What Frank Henderson had risked his life to achieve Niall Henderson had built on, and thus had passed on to his daughter and to his three sons a better world.

Frank Henderson was a hero of the war, Niall Henderson a hero of the subsequent peace. He was a gentle and humourous man who worked all the hours God gave to provide for his family, to ensure for them a better life. A quintessential Dub, true-blue, he was a man who would do a full day's work, cycle home for his tea, then cycle back to several more hours of overtime, and still find time to maintain an impeccable garden, to do the dishes, to do more than his share at all times in any situation. He lived a frugal life, a moderate drinker even by moderate standards, yet still managed to ensure that his family enjoyed a holiday every year, that they lacked for nothing, all the while maitaining a cheery and positive outlook.

In truth, for all that Frank Henderson is the one who will be remembered by history (he rose to become Commandant of the Second Battalion of Dublin's Irish Volunteers, wrote a memoir, Frank Henderson's Easter Rising - Recollections Of An Irish Volunteer), the world has more need of men like Niall Henderson - hard-working, caring, sharing. How do I know so much about this extraordinary and exceptional man, how did I come to admire and respect him so much? I married his daughter.

Contrast those men with those who lead Ireland today. 

Where Frank Henderson risked his life to win our freedom and independence from an oppressive Empire, our last government - the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition - tamely and shamefully surrendered that freedom and independence to another oppressive new Empire. Our new Fine Gael/Labour coalition government has continued the obeisance of the old, fear paralysing their every thought and act, weasling their way from any and every confrontation with those they see as more powerful, all the while weaving their webs of public deceit, spinning their lies.

Where Niall Henderson sacrificed his own needs and radically curtailed his own lifestyle to provide for his wife and family, the members of this government and of this Oireachtas sacrifice their own people to preserve their own cosseted, comfortable lifestyles. Even as they cut and slash and tax, the new Land Agents implementing the diktats and demands of the new Empire, their own salaries/expenses/pensions/perks remain untouched by that new Empire, their cooperation bought and assured. The legacy they'll leave for future generations? Debt.

Those troublesome Promissory Notes? Why bother to dispute them when we can just take out a sovereign bond - as we did for the 2012 Note in March this year - for our children to pay, and for their children to pay, 40 years of 'war' reparations for a war we never waged. Confront the ECB and the EU on the money already extorted from us - what, us? No, we'll just hide behind Spain and Italy, see what terms they get, then come out from hiding and beg for similar terms - 'Please Sir, we've been good boys and girls'.

And so we are where we are. This coming Monday, Oct 1st, to absolutely no fanfare (ah, our media, our shameful media, the people abandoned), AIB will pay an unsecured unguaranteed bond of €1bn - our €1bn. It will be the 18th billion euro our banks will have paid this year, with still two billion to pay, another €17bn next year, but who's counting anymore?

Sunday 16 September 2012

THE DIRTY DOZEN w/e Sept 23rd 2012

On October 1st a €1bn unsecured unguaranteed AIB bond will be paid, that's almost a third of all the combined extra taxes/cuts proposed for Budget 2013, yet not a word about it in our media, the people abandoned to the market sharks.

Leo Varadkar can state on national television that the Promissory Note for 2013 can be dealt with as was the P Note of 2012, transformed from contentious debt to locked-in Sovereign Bond repayable in the late 2020s, and not even be challenged. It's official government policy now to bequeath debt that was never ours in the first place to future generations, a shameful legacy that goes unchallenged.

People are leaving in droves; those of us who stay will be paying bondholder bank debt not just next year, not just for the next ten years - for generations. And again, all this is fine - let's just beg for improved terms and conditions.

Our Finance Minister annouces that he's going to sit back and wait to see what kind of deal Spain can cut with the ECB, then hopes to piggy-back on that deal - this is how you negotiate on behalf of your people? 

Our Health Minister cuts 600,000 hours from home help for the elderly, every minute of every hour of which is precious to those individuals, even as our banks bleed billions of our money to their failed bondholders - these are the values of a society in which you want to live?

In Ballyhea and in Charleville we're now in week 82 of our protest against all the above but this week we're taking the show on the road. Today (Sunday, Sep 16th) we were in Ballyhea, Charleville, Adare and Limerick; tomorrow (Monday) we're in Nenagh, Roscrea, Portlaoise, Kildare, Newbrige, Naas, Bray and Dublin, full itinerary details here.

We finish up on Tue in Dublin with a march from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dáil, to demand that this term, this government gets off its knees in Europe, puts away the begging bowl, and insists on justice - end the bank bondholder bailout, burn the Promissory Notes, reprint the billions destroyed in the Notes of 2011 and 2012, cancel all bank-related debt to Europe, refund the €21bn taken from the National Pension Reserve Fund.

Time, Enda and Michael, to get tough.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

THE DIRTY DOZEN - w/e Sep 16th 2012

"A billion euro," someone said to me recently, "What's that? I think most people find it hard to get their heads around it."

"Simple!", sez I; "A billion euro is exactly €100,000 relief each for 10,000 of our many badly stressed mortgage-holders; or if you prefer, it's the amount AIB - one of the several banks we were forced to buy out by the ECB - will pay to one unsecured unguaranteed bondholder on Oct 1st, just over two weeks from now."

Take what Tough Reilly and his HSE are planning on cutting from the health service budget for the remainder of this year, the 600,000 hours of home help plus all the other various cold-hearted cuts, add it to the €700,000,000 in cuts the same Tough Reilly plans on taking from the HSE budget for next year, and you would still have enough change left over from a billion euro to either a) restore all the cuts to the Special Needs budgets for the next few years or b) fund a few Ministerial pensions.

How and why our national media insists on ignoring this ongoing obscenity, I've given up trying to fathom. What I have not given up on, and never will, is trying to get this information out there, for which we all now must depend on ourselves, on Twitter RTs, on Facebook sharing, on word of mouth.

What we in Ballyhea and Charleville haven't given up on either is our protest, Week 81 coming up this Sunday when we plan to take it further afield - a three-day crusade to Kildare Street, ending on Tuesday afternoon to coincide with the reconvening of the Dáil. If we're passing anywhere near a town near you, please join us.

Monday 3 September 2012

THE DIRTY DOZEN - w/e Sep 9th 2012

Look at the table below and weep; weep for those who ever the next few months will find themselves without one of the 600,000 hours being cut from the home-help service. To this government, to the HSE, those 600,000 hours are expendable; to all those who benefit, every single minute of every single one of those hours is precious.

But weep not just for those who are thus reduced; weep for yourself, weep for us all. Today the putrid, rotten, zombie Anglo Irish Bank pays a bond of €600,000,000; on Oct 1st (four weeks from today) AIB pays a bond of €1,000,000,000; already this year our banks have paid bonds of over €16bn; before the year is over that will grow by another €3.75bn. Yet you don't know.

You don't know how the lifeblood is being drained from this economy week by week, month by month through our six banks (five of which we own) because you are not being told. The government (I won't say 'our' government because even from the day they were elected they betrayed us to the ECB) doesn't want us to know; our national media (with a few honourable exceptions) seems to know only what the government wants them to know.

And so we suffer, and so we weep, some more than others. The priorities of Ireland 2012, where an hour of home help to the most vulnerable in our society is sacrificed even as we pay bonds we never issued to big-time financial gamblers, failed bonds in failed in failed banks.

This government will bleat that they are taking the 'hard decisions'. No my friends. When you've decided to hurt the very weakest, that's not the hard decision; face down the ECB, face down the vested interests in this society, cut the fat from the highest earners rather than the lean from those who have nothing - now you're taking the hard decisions.

Enough, I really can't say anymore. Below, the next 12 bonds.