ECB gets Valentines Card but Government Shows Little Love to People

On Valentine’s Day, the Anglo: Not Our Debt campaign has called on the Irish Government to show people in Ireland that it “really cares” by suspending repayments of Anglo Irish Bank’s debts.

The Debt Justice Action network – encompassing a unique coalition of representatives from the trade union, community, faith-based, global justice, environmental and academic sectors – acknowledged statements from government ministers that hint at “changes” in the debts arising from Anglo and Irish Nationwide Building Society, but noted that the commentary from cabinet members does not guarantee a strong negotiating approach by the Irish government and that Taoiseach Enda Kenny himself ruled out any suggestion of a debt write down late last week

Campaign spokesperson Marie Moran said that “It is all very well for Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to call for Europe to ‘stand behind us’, but why would they if we are still putting cheques in the post? We call for an immediate suspension of the Anglo ‘promissory note’ payment of €3.1 billion due on 31st March so that Ireland asserts itself as a negotiator to be reckoned with”.[1]

Jimmy Kelly of Unite trade union argued that “It is disingenuous of Minister Leo Varadkar to suggest the Anglo payments, if stopped, could not be used to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Instead those who did the least to cause this debt are the very people whose lives are being damaged by it. As things stand on the 31st of March the Irish Government will literally burn €3.1 billion of taxpayers’ money. This in an immoral act. ”

Reacting to comments from Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte that some type of deal was imminent, Nessa Ní Chasaide of Debt and Development Coalition Ireland said “For any deal to be fair and to have a social impact it has to involve a full write down of the debt – not a reduction in the interest rate or another superficial gesture. Anglo debt is an illegitimate debt incurred by an organisation under criminal investigation. It should be suspended and written down as similar debts were in Ecuador, Argentina and elsewhere.”

Andy Storey from Afri expressed solidarity with protests in Greece: “As in Ireland, ordinary Greek people are being asked to bail out the banks through austerity – this is fundamentally immoral. Whilst Irish Government spin tries to distance Ireland from Greece, we recognise the unjust similarities, and extend our solidarity to people in Greece resisting the undemocratic imposition of poverty by unelected ECB and EU elites”.

Notes

[1] The promissory note is a promise by the Irish Government to repay €3.1 billion on behalf of Anglo to the Irish Central bank. The promissory note will repay the Irish Central Bank money lent by it to Anglo, which enabled Anglo to repay its bondholder debt.

[2] The vast majority of Anglo bondholders have been paid off. There is approximately €5 billion of Anglo bondholder debt remaining to be paid.

[3] The campaign opposes the payments of the Anglo bondholder debt and the €3.1 billion IOU (or promissory note) to be paid by the government on March 31st. The €3.1 billion payment will be due each year up until 2023 with further IOU payments due beyond this date also.

The Anglo repayments will have reached €47 billion by 2031, the equivalent of 30% of Ireland’s current GDP. However, as Ireland will have to borrow more to make the payments, this could rise to €85 billion when interest charges are added in. The campaigners highlight that the €3.1 billion payments due to be made by the state on behalf of Anglo in March 2012 would fund the cost of running Ireland’s entire primary school system for a year or could fund the putting in place of a next generation broadband network for all of Ireland.

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