Debt Campaigners Reject ‘Blackmail’ over Treaty

Debt Justice Action Press Release, 6th March 2012

A campaign group calling for the write down of Irish debt has labelled the link being drawn between the debt and the Fiscal Treaty as “obscene and tantamount to blackmail”.

Community worker and campaign spokesperson John Bissett said he “utterly rejected any spurious quid pro quo between voting Yes in the forthcoming referendum on the Fiscal Treaty and the suspension or cancellation of the Anglo and Irish Nationwide debt.” He went on to say that “there has been far too much of this sort of horse-trading in Ireland in recent years and what we need now is for the debt to dealt with ethically and on its own terms”.

Another Anglo: Not Our Debt spokesperson, UCD lecturer Marie Moran, said that the debts arising from Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society were illegitimate: “this is not our debt in the first place, and the idea that we should be offered some minor concession on it to vote Yes to the Treaty is obscene – it has all the hallmarks of a ‘stroke’ where one has to pay to receive some of one’s own possessions back after the ignominy of a daylight robbery”.

Andy Storey of Action from Ireland (Afri) said that the next ‘promissory note’ repayment, due on 31st March, should be suspended regardless of the Treaty referendum: “to say that a write down of this illegitimate debt might be conditional on a Yes vote is obscene and tantamount to blackmail”. [1] He went on, “Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that people in Ireland will not be bribed – nor should they be blackmailed”. Mr Storey also labelled the suggestion from Minister Simon Coveney on RTE’s Frontline that the government is seeking only to renegotiate interest payments, rather than the promissory note principal, as “derisory and irrelevant”.

Mr Bissett said that deprived communities were already being devastated by cutbacks to repay debt. “The shocking evidence for how communities are being devastated is spelt out very starkly in a landmark report published last week by the ICTU where they estimate that the community sector is being exposed to cuts of up to 35 %. This cannot continue. We desperately need the resources that are being spent on the promissory notes to fund our vital public and community infrastructure.”

Note to the Editor

[1] 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.

Anglo: Not Our Debt campaign is supported by the Debt Justice Action network, which consists of the following:

Action From Ireland (Afri)

Africa Centre

Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network

Ballyhea Says No To Bondholder Bailout

Canal Communities Campaign for Equality and Fairness

Claiming Our Future

Centre for Global Education

Clondalkin Travellers Development Group

Comhlámh

Congregation of Daughters of Mary and Joseph

Debt and Development Coalition Ireland

Fermoy Says No To Bondholder Bailouts

Galway One World Centre

Gluaiseacht for Global Justice

Irish Missionary Union – Justice

Just Forests

Kilbarack Community Development Project

Latin America Solidarity Centre

Little Sisters of the Assumption

Migrants Rights Centre of Ireland

NUI Maynooth Community Education, Equality and Social Activism

Partners in Faith

Presentation Justice Network

Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles

Spectacle of Defiance and Hope

UCD School of Social Justice

Unite Trade Union

Waterford Women’s Centre

Individual community workers and campaigners

Independent think-tank TASC is providing technical advice

A simple ‘questions and answers’ document on Anglo debt can be found at http://www.notourdebt.ie

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