We’ve rallied against the symptoms, now let’s rally against the cause

While there remains plenty of political fallout about Budget 2013, it is timely to remind ourselves why we’ve all been subject to wave after wave of austerity budgets. When you distill it down to its essence, the economic crisis that has gripped the country since 2008 was caused by just one thing. Debt.

Specifically, banking debt, and the enduring problems associated with the Anglo promissory notes. The state is clutching an IOU it cannot pay, and is forced to meet certain targets because of it. Each successive budget has been an attempt to reach the target. Just as blood letting was once favoured as treatment for certain illnesses, the austerity remedy is in danger of killing the patient.

Following the infamous night four years ago, when the Government introduced the bank guarantee, it felt like the wheels came off the nation’s economy in spectacular fashion. We quickly plunged from being the success story of Europe to coughing up our economic sovereignty to the Troika.

Blame was apportioned every which way. Bankers, developers, politicians, the minimum wage, public servants, trade unions and global financial conspiracies, among others, were wedged into a Mexican standoff of blame. Sometimes the blame was served up with a dash of penance and self loathing. We all partied? Hardly.

But we’re all paying for it, and as the crisis wears on it has become very clear that the bill is far beyond what we can actually pay. We’ve taken the corrective measures, the pain and the blame, but the colossal banking debt, which represents one third of our national debt, still hangs over us.

And it remains a huge obstacle to recovery. Boosting domestic demand, economic growth, reducing unemployment; none of this can happen as long as that debt is blocking the road to recovery.

So what do we do? Well, we’ve railed against the effects of this crisis, but it’s time to turn our attention to the cause. After so much blame and argument about the effects of the crisis, recognising the cause and sharing a determination to remove it from our path is necessary and timely. Ireland will chair the EU presidency for the first half of 2013. It’s time to send a message.

That is why IMPACT is supporting the rallies against the banking debt on February 9th. We are putting the call out to all our members, their colleagues, families and friends, to join the series of rallies taking place around the country on that date. It is time to send a clear message to the Troika that the debt cannot, should not and will not be paid.

Until the debt issue is resolved, every person who works in public services, and every person who relies on public services, will be subject to unrelenting pressure because of this debt.