Date Released: 16 January 2013
The Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on Wednesday (16th January) signed off on final arrangements for a National Day of Action to demand a resolution of Ireland’s bank debt problem. A series of marches and rallies are to be held in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford on Saturday, 9th February.
Congress General Secretary David Begg said the intention was to use the international attention focused on Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union to draw attention to the fact that “the burden of bank debt makes recovery impossible.”
Speaking after the Executive Council meeting, David Begg, said: “To protect the European banking system Ireland was strong-armed into taking on €64 billion of private banking debt as sovereign debt. Then the ECB refused to allow senior bondholders to be burned. Nearly half the country’s annual income has gone into making good the gambles of private investors.”
He said Congress was alarmed by recent media reports (The Financial Times, 15th January) which suggested that the European Commission was about to bow to pressure from Germany, Finland and The Netherlands to renege on an agreement concluded at the European Council meeting on 29th June, 2012, to sever the connection between bank and sovereign debt.
He pointed out that the deal provided for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Rescue Fund to take on the task of recapitalising the banks by September 2012. However, the creditor countries had resiled from that agreement, saying that legacy debt would not be covered.
“A deal is a deal,” Begg said.
“Ireland has no chance of recovery unless that deal can be made to stick. A country with a working population of 1.8 million people cannot handle a debt of €64 billion. To even stabilise this debt the economy would need to grow at the rate of 4% per annum. There is no chance of that happening for the foreseeable future.”
“We believe that a strong message has to go out to the EU about this situation. This is not exclusively a trade union issue, but one for every citizen of this country. For this reason all civil society organisations are being invited to participate in the February 9 marches and rallies,” Begg said.
“We are at a critical juncture. Unless we can demonstrate as a people that there are limits beyond which we will not go, then we will be left carrying the can for the European banks. We need a comprehensive solution for all bank debt. A sticking plaster for the Anglo Irish Promissory Note will not do it,” he concluded.
The Congress-organised marches take place on Saturday, February 9 at six locations across the country: Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford. Full details on routes and assembly times will be made public in the coming days.