What the…? We’ve paid HOW MUCH??!!!

Pile of Euro Notes

Repayment of Ireland’s bank debt has already cost you €9,000 personally

It has cost all other EU citizens an average of €192 each

Regardless of your level of interest in economic matters, most people know that Ireland has an enormous debt burden. It’s safe to assume that most people also understand that a big chunk of it is because of our banks. Regardless of whether or not we know what a ‘subordinated bondholder’ is, or what terms like ‘debt to GDP ratio’ actually mean, the vast majority of people understand that neither term is good news when we’re talking about our own economy. In all matters economic, it tends to be bad news right?

Well this week we discovered just how much that debt accounts for in the EU. Eurostat* figures confirm that Ireland has repaid the biggest chunk of debt in the EU.

We’ve all paid €41 billion to date. 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% of our economic output (GDP). In Germany the €40bn they’ve paid is just 3% of GDP.

Next on the list is the UK. €10bn paid, representing just 0.5% 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. No wonder we’re patted on the head and told we’re the best

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

Our total bill is €64bn. After our fifth year of austerity budgets, and an agreement to give us a deal on the debt, there are no signs yet of that happening other than the confidence expressed by our own Government that a deal can be done. Paying what we have paid already has meant massive job losses and another generation of Irish emigrants who have little choice but to go. And crippling personal debts. If we are not relieved of the remaining debt burden, Ireland will be forced further down the current path. 

We have contributed more than enough to prove our credentials. But we will suffocate if we are forced relentlessly to focus on repayment.

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. A deal on debt is the only hope we have left. 

The Febuary 9th rallies are a unique opportunity to protest the root cause of our economic crisis, as opposed to the effects of the economic crisis, which is what most protests have focused on since the crisis hit.

The event is hosted by the Ictu, but all citizens are welcome. A large turnout will demonstrate to the EU leadership the depth of feeling about the issue, as it affects every man, woman and child in the country.

Marches are being organised on the afternoon of 9th February in the following locations: Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford. The Dublin rally will start at 2pm (assemble 1pm) near the ASTI office at the junction of Winetavern Street and Cook Street (opposite the Dublin City Council car park). Details of the other rallies will circulate next week.

Don’t leave it to chance, make your voice heard. Be there.


Niall Shanahan

Communications Officer

*With acknowledgement and thanks to Michael Taft – Notes On The Front