New Proclamation, read at Afri Event in Arbour Hill, Easter Monday

25.4.11 Dublin. Actor Donal O’Kelly as a bondholder, reading a satirical version of the 1916 Proclamation, which cedes Irish sovereignty to international bondholders, alongside Andy Storey reading the actual Proclamation at an Afri event at Arbour Hill on Easter Monday. Photo by Derek Speirs

POBLACHT NA H EIREANN

THE ‘PROVISIONAL’ GOVERNMENT

of the

SENIOR BONDHOLDERS

TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of the Markets and not of the dead generations from whom she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to our interests and strikes for her enslavement to debt.

Having disorganised and demobilised her spirit through her clandestine nexus of bankers and property developers, and through her open political organisations, having patiently perfected her corruption, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal ourselves, we now seize that moment, and, through the IMF and the EU, but relying in the first on her own weakness, we strike in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of senior bondholders to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by the Irish people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by their repudiation of the bank debt. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty: two times in the past decade they have asserted it in EU referenda – and been sent back to vote correctly. Standing on our fundamental right and again asserting it in public in the face of the watching markets, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a wholly-owned subsidiary of international financial markets, and we pledge our continued prosperity and the lives of the Irish people to the cause of its dependence, of its pauperisation, and its abasement among the nations.

The senior bondholders are entitled to, and hereby claim, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. Our Republic guarantees every necessary restriction on civil liberties, unequal rights and unequal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the misery and poverty of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing none of the children of the nation, and mindful of the differences carefully fostered by the senior bondholders, the IMF, the EU and the Irish government, which divide a rewarded minority from the passive majority at present.

Until our actions have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a full-on dictatorship, unrepresentative of the whole people of Ireland and needless of election by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Irish Government will administer the civil and economic affairs of the Republic in trust for the senior bondholders.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God of the Financial Markets, Whose blessing we invoke upon our actions, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by courage, humanity, or generosity. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its docility and lack of organisation and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the senior bondholders, prove itself worthy of the supine destiny to which we have called it.

Signed on Behalf of the “Provisional” Government by financial speculators unknown to you, acting through Enda Kenny, Eamonn Gilmore and Michael Noonan at present, with and for Olli Rehn, Jean-Claude Trichet, Ajai Chopra and Angela Merkel.

 

Context

Afri, along with other global justice NGOs, has long highlighted issues surrounding ‘Third World’ (Global South) debt and IMF/World Bank structural adjustment – including erosion of sovereignty in the Global South and devastating socio-economic consequences. Those issues have come home now. And we can look to the experience of the Global South for lessons in both understanding our crisis and how we might tackle it.

For example, Ajai Chopra, the head of the IMF team negotiating the Irish ‘bail out’, previously worked in the IMF’s Asia-Pacific department and led its ‘rescue’ mission to South Korea after a financial collapse in 1997. In Korea, state interventions were curtailed and the government budget was slashed (leading to massive redundancies), despite the fact that government overspending had nothing to do with the Korean crisis. Between 1996 and 1999, South Korea’s unemployment rate tripled and the proportion of the population identifying themselves as middle-class fell from 64 per cent to 38 per cent. Korean trade unions and other forces opposed these policies but they were quickly assured that their opposition would count for nothing, as documented by Naomi Klein:

‘the end of the IMF negotiations coincided with scheduled presidential elections in which two of the candidates were running on anti-IMF platforms. In an extraordinary act of interference with a sovereign nation’s political process, the IMF refused to release the money until it had commitments from all four main candidates that they would stick to the new [IMF] rules if they won. With the country effectively held at ransom, the IMF was triumphant: each candidate pledged his support in writing… [Y]ou can vote, South Koreans were told, but your vote can have no bearing on the managing and organisation of the economy’.

The similarity with the situation in Ireland is evident, with figures such as EU Commissioner Olli Rehn and European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet insisting that whatever new government the Irish people elected would still have to implement the previously agreed economic plan.

But the current crisis is also an opportunity – especially with respect to innovative strategies of resistance to economic austerity. For example, the process whereby democratically organised projects of popular power forced the Argentinian government to default on part of its debt in the early 2000s is one that could prove highly instructive for Irish people.

Another such parallel concerns debt audits, which have been used across the Global South to allow civil society to hold to account those responsible for the damage caused by their countries’ indebtedness. The example of Ecuador is perhaps most striking here. In 2007, Ecuador’s President Correa established a debt audit commission, which reported in 2008 that a portion of the country’s debt was ‘illegitimate’ and had done ‘incalculable damage’ to Ecuador’s people and environment. Ecuador then defaulted on the ‘toxic’ (illegitimate) portion of its debt. Despite predictions of economic disaster, the country registered 3.7 per cent economic growth in 2010 and the forecast is for growth in excess of 5.1 per cent growth in 2011. Indeed, there is now strong demand for Ecuadorean bonds again i.e., the country can access the international financial markets despite a repudiation of its past debt. The salience of this example for current public debates in Ireland is obvious.

The ususpation of democracy that we satirise in the ‘proclamation’ overleaf can be resisted if we learn from those who have already successfully done so.

Watch the video by Dave Donnellan here:The Proclamation

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