“The Government must hang tough on the €3.1 billion promissory note and the wider bank debt,” SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, said at the James Larkin commemoration in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, this afternoon. “We fully recognise that refusal to pay has potentially enormous consequences. That is why securing a deal on bank debt is too important a political battle to be left to the Government alone. We must demonstrate massive public support and it is critically important that as many as possible turn out on Saturday, 9th February in support of the ICTU Day of Action against the bank debt and one-sided austerity,” he said.“This is not just another demonstration. It is crucial in the battle to convince Europe that we have reached the end of the line in terms of what we can sacrifice, in terms of our own futures and that of our children, to sate the appetites of a new generation of what Jim Larkin would have characterised as ‘gradgrinds, scroogers, sweaters and hypocrites’.”Jack O’Connor was speaking after a wreath laying ceremony to mark the 66th anniversary of the death of the legendary labour leader. In his speech, he said; “It was blind obedience to the laws of the market and pursuit of short term gain for the wealthy elite that led the previous Irish Government into the greatest economic crisis in the history of the State and into accepting liability for the debts of private speculators. “This has resulted in Ireland carrying 40% of the entire eurozone bank debt.  We shoulder almost €9,000 of bad bank debt for every man, woman and child in the country, compared with €192 per capita in other eurozone states.“The key demand in the weeks ahead must be for a deal on bank debt. All the complacent assumptions in establishment circles that a deal on the first element, the promissory notes, could be taken for granted now stand exposed as a result the recent ECB Council Meeting. The consequences of not getting a deal could be disastrous. It would immediately jeopardise the prospects of emerging from the ‘bail out’ as the financial markets have been factoring it in since the June 29th Heads of Government declaration last year.”“For this reason it is essential that all of those affected by this unsustainable bank debt turn out for the Day of Action marches and protest rallies across the country on Saturday, 9th February. Download the full speech here