From the TUC

February 9: Irish unions march against bank debt burden

07 Feb 2013, By

Lift the burden: Jobs not debt

The people of Ireland will be on the streets in their tens of thousands on February 9. They will be marching in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Sligo.

Contrary to the official line from Strasbourg and Frankfurt, there is very little evidence of European solidarity in action in Ireland right now. We have been saddled with a €64 billion bank debt burden that eliminates any possibility of economic recovery and guarantees years of continued stagnation.

That debt represents the cost of ‘saving’ the Irish banks, which collapsed in 2008 and brought down the whole economy.

They operated in a wholly corrupt Eurozone banking system that was rigged to ensure the highest rewards went to the most reckless senior lenders. And the ECB expects us to pick up the tab. This is the big lie at the heart of the Irish ‘bailout’. A country with a workforce of 1.8 million cannot repay debt this size without doing enormous social and economic damage.

While the Irish bank guarantee of September 2008 lies the root of this current evil, the European Central Bank’s insistence that no bank could fail – not even Anglo Irish – meant it could never be reversed. In other words, European authorities gave retrospective sanction to the worst political decision in modern Irish history.

The new European order deemed that ‘no bondholder could be left behind’. And then they sent the bill to us.

Over the next three years, the interest bill on just a portion of that debt will cost Ireland over €4 billion. That money will be borrowed and our debt will increase further.

Our most recent budget – carried out under the watchful eye of the Troika – involved a very painful ‘adjustment’ of some €3.6 billion. The numbers just don’t add up. In the meantime, we have haemorrhaged 360,000 jobs and seen families broken up by emigration.

So far, Ireland has paid the biggest bank debt bill in the European Union. We have already paid out €41 billion – more than Germany (€40 billion), the UK, the Netherlands, Portugal or Spain.

This has cost everyone in Ireland almost €9,000 each. The per capita cost of the bank crisis across for all other EU citizens was just €191. We have paid almost 50 times more than anyone else.

And we are expected to pay more, the full €64 billion and counting.

That’s why we’ll be marching on February 9.

GUEST POST: Macdara Doyle is full time official with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.