National rallies and campaign against the repayment of bank debt: Saturday 9th February

IMPACT is supporting the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ (ICTU) campaign for a deal on bank debt, with the objective of getting the EU to agree a deal to separate bank debt from Ireland’s sovereign debt.  It is vital that we do all we can to ensure IMPACT members’ participation in the rallies that ICTU is organising on Saturday 9th February.

Bank debt now accounts for a third of our national debt. There is no prospect of us regaining our economic sovereignty or exiting austerity programmes unless and until the EU agrees a deal to separate it from our ‘sovereign’ debt. Last year the EU said it would do a deal, but nothing has been done to implement this decision and some member states have indicated that they want to renege on the promise.

So far we’ve all paid €41 billion. That’s only about a billion more than Germany, but we top the league in terms of the amount of cash that all the EU countries have paid; and the big difference between ourselves and Germany? €41bn is 25 per cent of our economic output (GDP). In Germany the €40bn they’ve paid is just 3 per cent of GDP.

Next on the list is the UK. €10bn paid, representing just 0.5 per cent of their GDP. After that, there is a really…really big drop off. It means that the European banking crisis, to date, has cost every individual in Ireland almost €9,000 each. 

The average amount per person in the rest of the EU is €192.

It’s sobering to think that Ireland makes up just 0.9 per cent of the EU population, and the Irish economy makes up 1.2 per cent of the EU’s GDP. We’re a tiny piece of the EU economic jigsaw, yet we’ve paid 42 percent of the total cost of the European banking crisis.

Without a deal on the debt, trying to meet this cost will further contract the economy, which will make it impossible for the Irish economy to grow. That means more job losses, obliterating domestic demand and one would have to assume that we run a very severe risk of reaching a ‘tipping point’ beyond which it will be impossible for the economy to do anything. This would mean we’d have little or no hope of getting out of a bailout situation.

Ireland’s current presidency of the EU is a unique opportunity to highlight the unfairness of the issue. The rallies are part of a broader campaign, which will include lobbying of EU institutions and media work in key EU countries.

This is a crucial opportunity to influence the European leaders who think the ‘Irish problem’ has been solved.  That’s why it is essential to organise a very strong turnout at the rallies. It is equally important to have a strong visible IMPACT presence at the rallies. It is essential to ensure a strong turnout by encouraging all IMPACT members to attend the rally taking place nearest to them with assembly locations and meeting time included.