Sunday, November 21, 2010

is this the end?

What a terrible day for Ireland. The crooks and their cronies in the Fianna Fail government, having blown up the bubble and amplified the boom, with the inevitable crash implied in both, have now finally handed Ireland itself to the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB) and worst of all, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The end of the first Republic, the end of our existence as a sovereign nation, people are calling it.

I never thought in my lifetime to see my own country about to come under the oversight of the IMF, with the "restructuring" and "austerity" that will entail. To give up control of our national finances, to be even brought close to the position where that would be a possibility, because this government will not allow its banking friends to suffer.

This situation sickens me. It is not for me about the loss of sovereignty that so many commentators are focussed on, but about a small group of men taking a country, flawed but essentially good, and in a matter of a few years driving it into the gutter, to a low point that will take decades to crawl our way out of. Decades that the ordinary people of Ireland will suffer through and pay for, despite gaining so little and losing so much during the boom times, and during the last two years of the crash.

“The key issue all the time for the Government is to ensure that we do not have a collapse of the banking sector," said Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, in announcing tonight that the government has already applied for the loan from the EU/ECB/IMF and that the EU has accepted. That says it all - the priority has not been saving jobs, saving people's homes, safeguarding the health sector, or protecting education, it has not even been saving the economy as a whole - it's just about the banks. Including banks that we do not need (if we need any), that do not provide services to the majority of Irish people, like Anglo Irish Bank which even the other banks did not think deserved saving. Banks that can (and now anyway most likely will) be taken over by companies in other countries, without any major problems being caused to the Irish people, especially when our currency is already the Euro. Banks are private companies, making profits for shareholders. They are not worth destroying your country for. But instead of letting Anglo go to the wall, as it should have done two years ago, or letting our economy take precedence over the profits of a small number of companies in the banking sector, this handful of politicians, bankers and developers have instead let our country go.

Meanwhile no-one seemed to see fit to mention that this handful of country-wreckers are almost exclusively male - the Taoiseach, the Minister of Finance, most of the senior Ministers, an embarrassingly large proportion of all TDs (less than 13% of Irish national politicians are women), the heads of all the banks, the present and past heads of the Central Bank, most if not all of the major builders and developers. Does it matter that they're all men? Perhaps it does. It's simply a fact.

This government and its golden circle brought this country along a path I largely despised during the boom times, and have used the crash mainly to further the inequality and poverty in our society. Many Irish people feel humiliated and ashamed tonight, yet the people who brought us here and oversaw this ignominy show no shame whatsoever.

On Thursday the government admitted that the EU and IMF officials were already in Ireland to negotiate and look at the national books of account. Books which the Irish people is not entitled to see. The lies, denial and obfuscation by government Ministers and the Taoiseach of the previous weekend continued in other forms throughout the week and even this weekend, even as the announcement of the deal was made.

As if to hammer home the point, on Friday I visited the Dáil, the first time I'd gone beyond the foyer of our parliamentary buildings. It was actually inspiring, to hear about the struggle to achieve independence, the first Dáil, the War of Independence, the role of urban guerilla warfare in that struggle, the Constitution and the challenges taken to it. We were taken on a tour which very unusually allowed us to sit in the Seanad and the Dáil chambers themselves. I sat down in a seat in the Dáil chamber, indistinguishable from the others, then moved up a few chairs to allow more space for more of our group, but no-one filled it. Turned out this first seat was the one normally allocated to the Taoiseach. Even as the meetings were likely continuing elsewhere in the building or nearby at that very moment to hand over Ireland's right to financial self-rule, the corridors and chambers of our government did not echo with determined argument, but were richly silent. It did not seem ironic that the Taoiseach's seat remained empty. The question is now whether we'll remain silent, or whether we'll find a way to lead ourselves through this emptiness to a better future.

Above, the voting buttons indicating Tá and Níl in the Senate chamber of the Oireachtas. Similar ones are in the Dáil chamber. This is what democracy looks like. Sadly our democratic leaders seem to have forgotten that.

I suspect I am too angry and sad to write coherently. Hopefully tomorrow morning will bring a brighter view.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the Irish peoples fault too. They were the ones taking 6 times their salary loans. We were the ones happily spending 5Euro on a piece of cheese between a bit of bread and 4Euro coffees. When a pint of the black stuff cost 7Euro after 11pm I knew it was time to get out of dodge. Utter madness and we just forked the money out. Every vendor, shop, bank, landlord, developer, car sales man, supermarket, TD was absorbed by sheer greed.

....FG/Labour will be elected in.
Everyone will moan about their mortgages (not much change there from the 'tiger' days)
2 Terms of FG/Labour mismanagement will have FF back in power on the next cycle upwards. When the debt is paid, they will claim it was FF who engineered it all.
Everyone will have forgotten about it (remember the 80's?). Same old crap, different decade.

Never returning seems like a beautiful outcome.

Friday, 26 November 2010 at 10:35:00 GMT  

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