Lombard Street: “structure of the euro worsened divergences naturally arising from the differences between countries”


The structure of the euro worsened divergences naturally arising from the differences between the countries.

The Dutch and Germans felt poorer than they actually were, the Spanish richer – and the low interest rates that were perceived as a benefit became a curse. The effects of the perverse interest regime were naturally most evident in capital markets and housing.

The natural buoyancy of housing and house prices was hugely boosted in Spain, and in Greece, Portugal and Ireland, into a housing bubble.

Had they been outside the euro, these economies would quickly have seen this boom curbed by higher interest rates in their separate currencies, while Germany and The Netherlands would have enjoyed lower interest rates than those experienced under the euro.

Instead, the common interest rate, and the delusion that differences between countries would be ironed out quickly by natural economic forces, underpinned unbridled housing bubbles.

Ireland’s had already started to collapse before the US subprime crisis stopped the whole process from mid-2007 onward. In Spain, Greece and Portugal the damage would have been even more extensive had not the US bubble collapsed.

Real GDP, 2001 = 100; the chart measures volume at 2005 prices

German policy reinforced already dangerous divergences. Severe wage restraint in 2002-05 held down labour costs – with labour cost deflation – and cut into consumer incomes.

With a separate currency, its appreciation would have rewarded workers for their restraint with cheaper imports and foreign travel, as happened in the 1980s and 1990s.

Likewise with separate currencies, the fast-growth countries like Spain and Greece, as well as having appropriate interest rates, would have been curbed by rising import costs, and would have had more cost-competitive exports and buoyant core European consumer markets to sell into.

The crisis simply would not have occurred: individual country adjustment would have been forced by financial markets at a much earlier stage. But with the euro the problems were both aggravated and masked by a fallacious, laissez-faire belief in the Eurozone as a self-correcting continental economy like the United States.

The euro added to the natural divergences between countries, as well as distorting their growth patterns.

Special Report – March 5, 2012. pp.4-5

Posted in Commodities & Cost of Living, ECB/IMF, Economy, EU, Euro / Sovereign Money, eurozone, Geopolitics, Germany, Greece, Housing Bubble, ireland, Leo Varadkar versus the World, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter Mathews TD (FG) – “It’s now time for the ECB to establish fairness within the eurozone”


The last government agreed that the State should pay €31bn to IBRC (formerly Anglo and Irish Nationwide) over a 13-year schedule ending in 2025. The first payment of €3.1bn was made in March 2011. The next payment is due on March 31.

If the European Union and the European Central Bank force us to make this payment, it would amount to increasing the totally unjustified, odious debt burden on the people of Ireland.

How is it unjustified? How is it odious?

Loan losses that occurred in the Irish banks following the financial collapse in 2008 were calculated in March 2011 at €75bn. In the 12 months since then it is becoming increasingly apparent that mortgage loan losses will get progressively worse.

Evidence is mounting that the total loan losses in Ireland could rise towards €100bn.

Throughout 2008 and 2009 there was a slow motion run and controlled implosion of the Irish banking system. In response, the ECB advanced massive loans to the Irish banks and in turn the Central Bank of Ireland responded by providing Exceptional Liquidity Assistance (ELA) to the Irish banks.

Professors Karl Whelan, Brian Lucey and Dr Stephen Kinsella recently made excellent presentations to the Oireachtas Committee on the issue of the promissory notes and ELA. They showed how the Central Bank of Ireland effectively created €45bn ELA money “out of thin air.”

The Central Bank of Ireland doesn’t owe any of this money to the ECB, they said. On a once-off basis, money was created and pumped into the Irish banks to keep them solvent. When the Irish banks repay these ELA loans, the Central Bank of Ireland simply retires them. The money literally disappears.

Therefore, the €31bn ELA money created by the Central Bank of Ireland, and advanced to IBRC to cover promissory notes, can and should be written off.

Specifically, on March 31 next, the write-off by the Central Bank of Ireland of €3.1bn ELA would mean that the Government wouldn’t have to borrow that money to pay the €3.1bn promissory note.

That promissory note could literally be torn up.

The same applies to all the remaining €25bn ELA loans to IBRC and the remaining €25bn promissory notes on IBRC’s balance sheet.

There is nothing dubious or wrong about doing this. Losses which should have been borne by bondholders have, wrongly, been dumped on the people of Ireland.

Normally, when banks collapse, their funders do not get all their money back.

In Ireland, bondholders were redeemed all their money with interest at the insistence of the ECB. Since the end of 2008, as payments to bondholders fell due, neither the banks nor the State had the resources to pay them.

That is where the ECB stepped in. It lent approximately €135bn to our banks to enable them to repay the bondholders and also to replace lost deposits.

The ECB became fully complicit in dumping this bill onto the people of Ireland.

Under normal capitalist principles, the ECB would not have shielded bondholders from the consequences of their investments. They would have to accept that Ireland is “taking one for the team.” Taking all this into account, again under normal capitalist principles, the ECB could not object to writing off up to €75bn of the loans it advanced to the Irish banks.

If the ECB is unwilling to do this, then the Central Bank of Ireland should top up its Exceptional Liquidity Assistance loans to the Irish banks to €75bn (in the case of AIB and Bank of Ireland substituting ELA for ECB loans) and then write it off.

The ECB has a limited ability to prevent the Central Bank of Ireland from doing this. It can only veto a proposal by the Irish Central Bank with a two thirds majority of its governing council. There are 23 members of the governing council, including Ireland’s representative, Governor Patrick Honohan.

So, if he and seven other members of the governing council support the proposal to write off the ELA money there is nothing Ms Merkel, Mr Sarkozy, Mr Draghi or anybody else can do about it.

But has Mr Honohan held discussions with ECB President Mario Draghi regarding writing off the ELA money?

Has he lobbied other Central Bank governors?

Has he lobbied the other eurozone countries in trouble so we can take a joint approach towards debt restructuring? Writing off that €75bn would have a massive positive impact on Ireland.

Firstly, this would allow AIB and Bank of Ireland to pass on these write-downs to mortgage holders and struggling businesses, providing a much needed stimulus to the Irish economy.

Secondly, it would allow us to “tear up” our obligation to redeem the €31bn promissory notes.

Overnight, our national debt would fall towards the Eurozone average and substantially improve our prospects of leaving the EU-IMF bailout programme.

We have been damned with faint praise from the troika. But the current EU policy of “kicking the can down the road” just prolongs the crisis. Our Government has shown willingness and fortitude in taking tough, necessary and often deeply unpopular decisions.

It’s now time for the ECB to establish fairness within the eurozone. If the European political establishment really believes we’re doing such a good job, the best way to show it is to agree to lighten the debt load on the people of Ireland by €75bn.

Peter Mathews is a chartered accountant and Fine Gael TD for Dublin South.
Posted in Austerity / Cutbacks, Bankers' Bailout, EU, ireland, Leo Varadkar versus the World, Promissory Notes, Solutions | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Automatic Austerity: 10 things you need to know about ’the Fiscal Compact’ (Corporate Europe Observatory)


On the 1st of March 2012, 25 EU heads of state or government will sign a new treaty[1], and if all goes as planned, it will enter into force early next year. The so called ‘Fiscal Compact’ was conceived in next to no time, and had a dramatic start when it was vetoed by the UK at a meeting of the European Council on 9 December, preventing a regular change to the EU treaty. Instead, governments opted to create a new legal vehicle – which can be adopted more quickly with less risk of annoying interference from democratic debate and the public; a separate EU-treaty that’s not really an EU-treaty.

The treaty is about strengthening the rules to ensure signatory states apply strict budgetary policies. Notably, so called ‘structural deficits’ are to stay permanently below a limit of 0.5 % of GDP. News of the treaty was applauded by the business community, including the European employers’ federation BusinessEurope, but trade unions denounced it emphatically, with the European Trade Union Confederation for the first time rejecting a new treaty outright.

Why now?

“This Treaty might reassure Kanzlerin [Chancellor] Merkel’s political friends, but not the millions of unemployed, poor or precarious workers in Europe who are waiting for decisive support from EU institutions. This is why we are opposed to it,” Bernadette Ségol, the secretary general of ETUC said[2].

Most analysts and commentators agree: the treaty is not about the current crisis. It will not change the course of the eurocrisis, and is not really intended to do so. It’s about the future of economic policy, and the German electorate. Chancellor Angela Merkel needs to reassure the German public that she’s being tough with the highly indebted countries to bolster her popularity and provide the government with the leeway to co-fund the new European Stability Mechanism – the fund to provide loans to member states in deep economic trouble. To do this she must ensure they stick to a tough austerity programme in return.

Three novelties

A quick scan of the new treaty might give the impression that we’re dealing with a comprehensive set of new rules and mechanisms. The text appears to be full of intricate devices to steer member states’ economic policies in a range of areas.

But if you filter out the self-congratulatory words about past ‘achievements’, the repetition of benchmarks and objectives already covered by EU legislation, plus the wording on upcoming initiatives, what’s left is a pretty short list of three novelties:

  1. more formalised Eurozone summits;
  2. more swift action against countries with budget deficits, and last but not least;
  3. the so called ‘debt brake’ – strong enforcement of rules to keep deficits down and the debt from growing.

Unpicking the intricacies is complicated, but the main features of the treaty can be described in 10 points.

1. It´s an ‘Austerity Treaty’

The most important feature of the treaty is the requirement that member states tighten their fiscal policies (ie. minimise or avoid budget deficits) to an even greater extent than currently required under existing EU rules.
Containing deficits is, of course, not new for the European Union. The stability and growth pact that underpins the Economic and Monetary Union requires member states to keep their budget deficit below 3% of GDP. And in the case of Eurozone countries, governments can be fined if they do not respect the limit. But first, they are given a programme to set them on course towards a balanced budget. The key element in this ‘adjustment programme’ is the reduction of the ‘structural deficit’ (see box), typically to reach a benchmark of 0.5% of GDP in several years[3]. Now, under the new treaty, this benchmark is no longer a benchmark – it’s to be the rule.

What is ‘the structural deficit’?

Structural deficit = Total deficit Cyclical deficit One-off measures

The structural deficit is supposed to reveal any medium term mismatch between government expenditure and revenue.

To get to that number, two things have to be subtracted from the actual total deficit:

  • the first is the effect of particular current circumstances, the ups and downs, of the economy, the so called ‘cyclical deficit’.
  • The second are temporary expenses inflicted on the government – the so called ‘one-off measures’ – restricted to a list of legitimate expenses.

This calculation gives you the number that is supposed to show whether the government should pull itself together and cut expenditure or raise taxes. This would restrain the debt and so a requirement to keep the structural deficit low is often called ‘a debt brake’.

Had the treaty been in force, the required cuts (or tax rises) would have been quite dramatic: at the moment only four EU countries have a deficit below the magic threshold (Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden and Estonia)[4].

In many countries, dramatic changes would be needed, as for example in Belgium where 4.0% of a total deficit of 4.6% is regarded as ‘structural deficit’ by the Commission. Under the treaty, Belgium would be given a new and much stronger ‘stability pact’ forcing the Belgian government to lower the deficit to 2,1 % of GDP – not the current 3%.

At first glance, signatory states do not appear to be directly coerced into taking specific measures such as cutting social expenditure. But bringing the structural deficit down requires specific measures.

The Commission’s recommendations to member states which have an excessive deficit procedure – that’s currently it’s 23 (!) of the 27 member states – are clear that cutting social expenditure is the right way to bring down any structural deficit.[5]

  • A 0.5% limit to the structural deficit will seriously restrict the options open to governments, eg. in times of crisis.
  • It will impede the use of public investment as a crisis response, and it is biased against social expenditure.

Also, the focus in the treaty – as well as in current EU-rules and procedures, such as the stability pact, is on expenditure. This was confirmed and underlined with the adoption of the ‘Europact’ (or Europlus Pact) in March 2011 that stresses that the ‘sustainability of public finances’ should be reached by attacking pensions, health care expenditure and social expenditure[6].

In short: this is an Austerity Treaty.

2. It will be automatic

Should the ‘debt brake’ not be respected by the government during the ‘national budgetary processes’ (planning, adoption, implementation), mechanisms within the country’s own legislation will trigger sanctions – serious enough to make the government get back on track.

That begs the question: who is to keep governments’ policies in place and how? Who can sue the government and force it to change policies, or how will this work?

We get a hint from the Treaty. It puts the responsibility for defining ‘common principles’ for the rules in the hands of the European Commission, including principles on “the independence of the institutions responsible at national level for monitoring the observance of the rules.” In other words, independent bodies at member state level are to be set up, presumably consisting of economists and legal experts, to discipline member-state governments[7].

3. It will be forever

The tight budget policies are to be everlasting.

The text states that member states are to adopt “provisions of binding force and permanent character, preferably constitutional, or otherwise guaranteed to be fully respected and adhered to throughout the national budgetary processes”. In other words, forever.

Germany prefers that signatory states implement this the same way as in Germany. Germany recently adopted a change to its constitution that will force future governments to stay below a 0.35% structural deficit. Now, Chancellor Merkel wants to see something similar in other member states.

There is some flexibility, though. Other kinds of rules can be chosen, but they have to be ‘permanent’. As Merkel said at the end of the negotiations:

“The debt brakes will be binding and valid forever. Never will you be able to change them through a parliamentary majority.” [8]

The text does read that this “shall fully respect the prerogatives of national Parliaments”, but in the context it looks like little more than an unintended insult.

In some countries changes to the constitution need to be submitted to a referendum, and that is a scenario governments are trying to avoid. One way of doing so inside the framework of this new EU-treaty that’s not really an EU-treaty, might be to come up with a permanent constitution-like rule that’s not really in the constitution.

4. If in doubt, the European Court of Justice will have the final word

What if one member state (or signatory state) thinks another member state has not adopted rules strong enough to uphold the principle? In that case, the annoyed member state can open a case against the culprit in the European Court of Justice.

This might be slightly confusing, because it’s the job of the European Court of Justice to uphold EU legislation, not to sort out differences between member states in general, nor to pass judgements on non-EU treaties. But in this case, the Court has been placed in a position to impose fines of 0.1% of GDP.

The European Court of Justice’s key role may become important in the future. It will enable any member state to file a complaint at any point on the implementation of the treaty in another signatory state.

5. Little or no flexibility

Will signatory governments have to bring their structural deficits down to 0.5% of GDP tomorrow?

No, but it does have to happen quickly. It’s not clear how much time is allowed from the Commission’s proposal. On their way to the target, signatory states can be allowed to deviate from the narrow path of austerity, provided they’ve experienced negative or very low growth and provided deviating doesn’t endanger “fiscal sustainability in the medium term”. The same exception applies when the target of a max. 0.5% deficit has been reached.

But the exception is not clear, and may even never be used.

The only tangible flexibility is that signatory states with a low debt can run a deficit up to one per cent of GDP – an exception only few countries will be able to enjoy in the next few years[9].

But even when in a crisis, or when experiencing low growth, signatory states will encounter severe difficulties should they opt for an expansionary fiscal policy and for major public investment as a way out. This whole exercise is biased against the kind of Keynesian response to a crisis that history has proved effective: that it’s actually sound economic policy to respond to a crisis with an expansionary policy, even if at the cost of a balanced budget.

“In good times we don’t need it. In bad times it’s the wrong policy. It’s not a sign of bad politics to run a deficit in times of crisis,”as the professor of economics Jesper Jespersen put it[10].
The treaty will carve the current response to the crisis in stone and make sure that when in crisis, the blame falls automatically on public spending – even if, as at present, the roots of the crisis lie in the private economy.

Wrong diagnosis, wrong cure.

6. The calculation method is biased against social expenditure

The details of calculating the ‘structural deficit’ are too complicated to ever be comprehensible or transparent to the public. And in fact, there is no consensus internationally or even within the EU on the calculation method.

The IMF, the OECD, The European Central Bank and the European Commission each use their own methods, and some EU member states also have their own approach.

But the method used is crucial. This figure – 0.5% – can determine the future of key social rights. And whether a government is running a structural deficit on the wrong side of this threshold is, to a large extent, determined by the way it’s calculated.

For example: for 2011, the Commission calculated the structural deficit of Denmark to be three per cent. The Danish government, on the other hand, claims the structural deficit is about one per cent. If the Commission’s calculation was to used, Denmark would have to cut back on expenses (or raise taxes), with double the costs to the country’s early retirement scheme!

The Danish National Bank as well as the Denmark’s Ministry of Finance claim to have developed a method that better reflects the Danish economy. They argue that the Commission’s method is biased against countries with high levels of unemployment benefits. As a consequence the Danish government has insisted on being able to use its own methods. And because the Commission bases its calculations on a very short list of other expenses- the ‘one-off measures’ – that can be deducted from the total.[11].

If the desire for some flexibility on method is to be satisfied, it would require a change to the Treaty text. At the moment, the Commission is to draft the common principles to be adopted at a later date, and it’s highly unlikely to suggest methods other than those it has developed and been using to assess member state budgets.

Likewise, if the approach of a member state is to be judged by the European Court of Justice, it would be highly surprising if the court supported any other methods than those the European Commission has been using for many years.

In the long run, country-specific methods adapted to the economies of individual states are not likely to survive. The Commission loves harmonized calculation methods that allow it to gloss over specifics of local economies, and it’s not likely to change tack at a moment when uniform fiscal discipline is the order of the day.

More than anything, that will be the Commission’s priority; a straight forward no-nonsense and no-discussion political tool.

7. It’s a political tool – calculations are unreliable and dangerous

But actually, the Commission has nothing to brag about in its record in recent years. In fact, the Commission’s calculations for member states structural deficits have sometimes been proven to be far off the mark.

Ireland is a case in point.

In late 2008, the Commission projected that the Irish economy would continue at its optimum level in 2009. Had the new treaty been in force, the budget would have been prepared based on this assumption. The Irish government would have expected a low structural deficit and allowed some leeway for expenditure. In the course of the year, however, the Irish government would have been forced into drastic and immediate cuts. For in fact, the Irish economy plunged, and the numbers had to be drastically revised. The calculations, in other words, gave far too rosy a picture of the structural deficit.

The opposite can also be the case. The Commission’s assessment of the Irish growth rates – potential and actual rates – showed that the deep economic crisis had not significantly altered the gap between the actual growth rate and the potential growth rate.

In other words: whether the Irish economy is in deep crisis or experiencing a boom does not really change anything. Ireland is close to optimum performance in either scenario[12]. This is not very realistic. And actually it is rather dangerous. A low ‘performance gap’ in times of crisis, suggests a large ‘structural component’ to the debt, and with the new treaty this would lead straight to massive immediate cuts.

This is not only because the Commission is not equipped with a crystal ball. Calculating the structural deficit goes through several steps which include guesstimates. In the method used by the Commission to determine the cyclical deficit, two estimates are multiplied with each other, and so – to put it bluntly – uncertainty is multiplied[13].

The use of the idea of a ‘structural deficit’ is not chosen for its remarkable ability to give a precise view of the state of the economy. It’s elevated to its current status to serve as a political tool to blame budgets for the ills of the economy, and to reform member states’ economic policies.

8. The Eurozone is in the driver’s seat

Besides the ‘debt brake’, the treaty has two other important sections.
The first is the formal adoption of a decision from October to have at least two Eurozone summits a year. These are to be chaired by a new Eurozone Summit President to be

“appointed by the Heads of State or Government of the Contracting Parties whose currency is the euro by simple majority at the same time the European Council elects its President and for the same term of office.”

This part of the treaty was controversial. A number of non-Eurozone country governments, spearheaded by Poland, were uncomfortable with being left out of the Euroclub, which they fear will start making the real decisions on behalf of the Union as a whole. The Eurozone commands a qualified majority. As a token of good will, the non-Eurozone signatory states can participate in discussions on particular subjects at Eurozone summits and in a separate annual meeting of the signatories to the new treaty.

9. Swift submission and fines for deficit countries

The second element concerns the rules about countries running a deficit, which is being changed again. Under the EU treaty, member states are obliged to respect a threshold of three per cent deficit on their state budgets.

If they don’t, a procedure can be initiated – the so called Excessive Deficit Procedure.

The procedure entails a number of steps – first there’s the decision to start it, then the government of the member state in question has to produce a report to show how it will fix the problem, then if it doesn’t perform convincingly it can receive a warning, and in the end if it’s a Eurozone country, it can be fined.

In 2011 this procedure was tightened considerably with a decision to use a voting system in the Council called ‘the reverse qualified majority vote’.

That means that in order to repeal a proposal to move forward with the procedure, there has to be a qualified majority. This rule is now being used at every step of the procedure except one – the initiation.

But how can a non-EU treaty interfere with EU-regulation? Won’t they have to ask the European Parliament and go through the other steps involved to change EU rules?

With the new treaty these procedures are circumvented by organising separate Eurozone votes. the basic decision is that before a vote in the Council, the Eurozone will make up its mind in a separate meeting. Since the Eurozone commands a qualified majority in the Council, they can pretty much run the show.

So when the question comes up as to whether the Council will support a proposal from the Commission to start proceedings against a member state, there has to be a qualified majority against such a measure inside the euro group if it is to be rejected. If not, then the Eurozone will vote ‘en bloc’, ie. together, to support the commencement of the excessive deficit procedure.

By deciding this procedure outside the framework of the EU, it will not formally change EU procedures, and so the European Parliament will not decide on the matter[14].

The loser here is France which in 2011 opposed the used of ‘reverse qualified majority voting’ in decisions on the launch of the procedure. Now it’s there in the new treaty.

This will become increasingly important in years to come. At the moment, according to the latest figures from Eurostat[15], all EU countries except four[16] run deficits above the three per cent allowed, and only four EU member states are not going through the excessive deficit procedure.

10. It will become (real) EU law

The treaty is not an EU-treaty. Even so, it hands over new tasks and responsibilities to the Commission and entrusts the European Court of Justice with a new and formidable power. It’s as close to an EU vehicle as you can get. Within five years, the treaty is to be integrated into the EU treaty, and considering the current state of the debate, this is a likely scenario. Only the Czech Republic and the UK are currently outside the treaty, and UK opposition was initially bitter and staunch. Since then, though, moods have calmed and due to existing arrangements, the UK could easily be exempt from the new provisions in the EU treaty.

A challenge to welfare and democracy

By then, it will probably not make much difference. The real change will happen in the short term.

Only last year, rules on excessive budget deficits were strengthened considerably, with countries in deficit facing tougher deadlines, demands for quicker fixes, more intrusive reform demands with a preference for cuts in social expenditure, and higher fines.

With the Euro pact (or Europlus pact) and the reforms dubbed ‘the six pack’ on economic governance, this trend has become stronger.

The thumb screws are being tightened one more notch with this ‘Austerity Treaty’, which marks the next step in the build-up of a complex web of regulation to make austerity the overarching response to the crisis, and exert a serious blow to European welfare.

But this will hardly go down easily.

The fact that 25 heads of state or government put their signature on the deal, does not mean it’s all done. For a start, it will have to be ratified, and though the treaty was designed to avoid public votes, the Irish government has been forced to call for a referendum later this year.

And even if ratified and implemented, the treaty is likely to meet with considerable resistance as it becomes clear what the consequences are.
[1] The Fiscal Compact, or “The treaty, stability,. Coordination and governance in the Economic and Monetary Union”, http://www.european-council.europa.eu/media/579087/treaty.pdf
[2] Press release from the ETUC, 31. January 2012, http://etuc.org/a/9605
[3] Regulation 1466/97, article 5,
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:1997R1466:20111213:EN:PDF
[4] Eurostat statistics, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tsieb080&plugin=1
[5] European Economy, Occassional Papers 65, 2010, http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/occasional_paper/2010/pdf/ocp65_en.pdf
[6] The Europlus Pact, page 19 in the Council conclusions, 24-25. March 2011, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/120296.pdf
[7] A strong role for independent bodies has been debated for a while in the EU institutions and new legislation seems to be coming up.
[8] The Guardian, 30 January 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jan/30/eu-summit-eurozone-treaty-deal?newsfeed=true
Corporate Europe Observatory, Automatic Austerity, March 2012
[9] Eurostat Newsrelease, 6. February 2012, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/2-06022012-AP/EN/2-06022012-AP-EN.PDF
[10] Professor Jesper Jespersen, interview, 24th of February.
11 European Commission, European Economy no 3, 2006, http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/publication423_en.pdf
[12] Examples from Pat McArcle; “The Euro Crisis: The ‘Fiscal Compact’ and Fiscal Policy”, Working Paper 6, Institute of International and European Affairs, 2012, page 13.
http://www.iiea.com/publications/the-euro-crisis-the-fiscal-compact-and-fiscal-policy
[13] A thorough critique of the method of the Commission has been carried out by the Danish National Bank (Economic Department): Ann-Louise Winther; “Konjunkturudsving og offentlige finanser”, Kvartalsoversigt, 1. Kvartal 2011 del 1, Danmarks Nationalbank, 2011, pp. 71- 91. https://www.nationalbanken.dk/C1256BE2005737D3/side/7E21A951977D9382C1257855004AE526/$file/konjunkturudsving.pdf
[14] In reality, though, it would hardly make a difference. A majority in the European Parliament would support this approach. That was clear from the debates in 2011 on the strengthening of the Stability and Growth Pact.
[15] Eurostat statistics; http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tsieb080&plugin=1
[16] Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Luxembourg, are the exceptions to the rule. See http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/economic_governance/sgp/deficit/index_en.htm

 

Corporate Europe Observatory, Automatic Austerity, March 2012
Automatic Austerity: 10 things you need to know about ’the Fiscal Compact’
March 2012
http://www.corporateeurope.org/
Posted in Austerity / Cutbacks, Bankers' Bailout, Budget, ECB/IMF, Economy, ESM / European Stability Mechanism, EU, Euro / Sovereign Money, Fiscal Compact Treaty, Germany, ireland, Referendum | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Update] Guest Post with commentary: JP McKenna – Irish Bank Resolution Corporation: Debt Explained Exceptional Liquidity Assistance, Anglo Promissory Notes etc.


Note: Mr McKenna asked for this to be retweeted, so we are taking this as license to post it here. Additional comments by us are in [square brackets and italics]; we have also underlined what we regard as important points. We’ve also taken the liberty of reformatting some of the text into bullet points for greater visual clarity.

[PS: comments are meant to be constructive – and secondary – to what is a great piece of analysis. You can download the original here]

The Irish taxpayer has a 31 Billion Euro + exposure to the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) (formerly Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society). This is the equivalent to more than one third of Ireland’s total 90 Billion Euro banking debt.

What follows is a consolidated explanation of Ireland’s debt obligations in relation to IBRC. It also examines the options open to the Irish government in its attempt to minimize taxpayer exposure to the “bank’s” debt.

Continue reading

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UPDATE: The “Fiscal Compact” Treaty & Irish Referendum: Pay No Attention to that Article 136 Behind the Curtain!


  • Treaty text is here. Initial and subsequent drafts here and here and here. BBC Q&A here. Peoples’ MovementCommentary on the EU Permanent Austerity Treaty (Fiscal Compact Treaty);
  • NationalPlatform.orgWe need to postpone ratifying the ESM Treaty until After the the Fiscal Treaty referendum: … if the ESM Treaty, is ratified by Ireland sometime this month – we will be committing ourselves to contributing €11 billion to a fund from which we can receive no benefit or advantage whatever if voters should vote No to the Fiscal Treaty referendum that will presumably be held sometime in May or early June, although the Fiscal Treaty need not be ratified until the end of this year.
  • National Platform EU Research & Information Centre Two Steps to a Fiscal Union for the Eurozone… & A Third Step to Distract Attention from the First Two
    1. The  27-Member European Council “Decision” to make the Art.136 TFEU Amendment to the EU Treaties;
    2. The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) between the 17 Eurozone States;
    3. A Third Step that has distracted attention in Ireland from the First Two…
      The “Fiscal Compact Treaty” (Treaty on Stability, Coordination & Governance in the Economic & Monetary Union)
  • National Platform EU Research & Information Centre“We Are Treated Like Mushrooms – Kept in the Dark and Fed Shit!”: Did you know…?
    1. Ireland could hold the Eurozone at our mercy regarding our national debt, the Anglo-Irish promissory notes and the terms of the Troika’s Memorandum of Understanding? This can be done by requiring a referendum instead of Oireachtas approval of the “Decision” of the EU 27 to amend Art.136 of the EU Treaties [this is not the referendum on the Fiscal Compact Treaty – “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”] so as to authorize the establishment of a permanent €500 billion fund for the Eurozone, the “European Stability Mechanism Fund”, to which Ireland must contribute €11 billion?
    2. … approval of this “Decision” [Art.136] is the only thing on which Ireland has the power of veto?
    3. the Government has invited submissions from the public on this Fiscal Compact Treaty… This will distract attention from the Government’s failure to insist that the amendment it has agreed to make to Art.136 of the EU treaties requires a referendum in Ireland because it makes a radical change to the scope, objectives and character of the Economic and Monetary Union which the Irish people agreed to sign up to under the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties?
    4. … a motion to approve the “Decision” of the European Council to amend Art.136 of the EU Treaties
      +
      A motion to approve ratification of the European Stability Mechanism Treaty
      +
      A European Communities Amendment Bill to bring the provisions of the latter into Irish domestic law,
      will all be put before the Oireachtas probably on Tuesday or Wednesday week?
    5. … by holding a referendum in Ireland on the Art.136 amendment to the EU treaties – without which the €500 billion ESM fund cannot be established – we could not only insist on our sovereign debt situation being transformed, but that a better solution to the whole Eurozone economic crisis could be adopted?
  • Peoples’ MovementThe EU Permanent Austerity Treaty (Fiscal Compact Treaty): The Government seems determined to push ahead in the next few months with the ratification of two important treaties: the “Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union” [AKA Fiscal Compact Treaty] and the revised “Treaty on the European Stability Mechanism” (ESM).The two treaties would make member-states of the euro zone into regimes of economic austerity, involving deeper and deeper cuts in public expenditure, increases in indirect taxes, reductions in wages, a sustained liberalisation of markets, and the privatisation of public property.It would really be more accurate to call the first treaty the EU Permanent Austerity Treaty and the second the Conditional Support Treaty. Whatever they are called, the two treaties represent a seriously dangerous threat, and democrats should be mobilising to resist them.The cumulative effect of being bound by both treaties would be an obligation to insert a balanced-budget rule“through provisions of binding force and permanent character, preferably constitutional or otherwise guaranteed to be fully respected and adhered to throughout the national budgetary processes.”It would put Irish budgets under permanent and detailed supervision by the euro zone; make the existing subordination of Ireland’s interests to those of the “stability of the euro area as a whole” even more systematic and pronounced; impose conditions of “strict conditionality,” without limit, for ESM “solidarity” financial bail-outs; and require Ireland to contribute some €11 billion to the ESM fund when it is established later this year.
  • Peoples’ MovementCommentary on the EU Permanent Austerity Treaty (Fiscal Compact Treaty): the EU Permanent Austerity Treaty will make a permanent feature of that external interference in our economic governance that was so obnoxious when Fianna Fáil surrendered sovereignty to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But if it’s bad in the short term—and it is—it’s even worse when it’s made permanent.The fact that the British and Czech governments are not going to ratify the treaty is clear evidence that an EU member-state can stay outside it and still remain within the European Union…
Posted in Austerity / Cutbacks, ECB/IMF, Economy, ESM / European Stability Mechanism, EU, Euro / Sovereign Money, Fiscal Compact Treaty, Independence/Nationalism, ireland, Referendum | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

You can’t HANDLE The Tweeter!


  • Irish CentralIrish tourist deported and barred from US after ‘destroy America’ tweet: Joking tweets about partying and quotes from “Family Guy” lands holiday makers in prison; … The agents told their suspects they would check their lugguage for spades and said they suspected that Bunting was to act as a “lookout” while Leigh raided Marilyn Monroe’s tomb…
    Forbes reported that the Department of Homeland Security charging sheet stated “Mr. Bryan confirmed that he had posted on his Tweeter [sic] website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe…Also on his tweeter [sic] account, Mr Bryan tweeted that he was coming to destroy America.”

  • CourtHouseNewsQuebec Accused of ‘Absurd’ Terror Arrest: A Muslim sales manager claims Quebec police illegally arrested him and “absurdly” accused him of being a terrorist because of “a pep talk he had given his fellow sales staff about ‘blowing away’ the competition”.
You can't HANDLE the Tweet!

Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with no humour. Who's gonna do it? You? You pop-culture hipster? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You laugh at Family Guy and you mock Marilyn Monroe. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that arresting sales coaches and hipsters, while dumbassed, probably saves lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives... You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about on message boards, you want me on that "Facepage" wall. You need me on that "Tweeter".

Posted in Civil Rights & Liberties, Culture & Entertainment, Emigration, Gardaí / Police, Humour, Intelligence / Securocrats, ireland, Irish America, USA / America | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#OccupyDameStreet public statement: the lock-down of the department of Finance


Media Advisory Updated- 25TH of January, 2011 – 06:30 GMT

We are Occupy Dame Street, part of the Occupy Ireland and global Occupy movement.

This morning at 6.30 am the beginnings of a social time bomb exploded in Dublin city centre. In response to the payment of 1.25 billion euro’s to unknown Anglo bondholders, Occupy Dame Street Radical Action Activists have peacefully locked down the department of Finance and will make every effort to keep the building locked down until 5pm.

This 1.25 billion euro’s payment is only part of a larger give-away to as yet un-named investors/gamblers. Under the terms of the treasonous bank bail-out agreement, there was and is no expectation that the people of Ireland make these payments. The agreement to pay, we believe, is a personal choice by the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, reflecting very much his own deferential nature. We believe that the Minister for Finance, his cabinet colleagues, all government bench TD’s and all those who have colluded with private banking interests have failed to realise the power of defiance and resistance. Instead they have cowed to the bondholders and criminal consortium’s who demand the profit from the labour of the Irish people, who demand the deconstruction of our health and education systems to fund their game of monopoly. Threats that there will be no money in the ATM’s of Ireland are without foundation, this has not been the experience of many other nations who refused to pay such as Iceland, Argentina and Singapore to name a few, all of which are experiencing buoyant economic growth in the teeth of this so called crisis. We hope today’s and future actions will put powder in the gun Noonan takes with him to the IMF/ECB bankers table. We refuse to stand by as the Irish people, our families, friends and neighbours, are made debt slaves to the IMF/ECB, as has happened in so many other nations in which they have arrested power from the people.

In the coming year, and for many years to come, the Irish people, by character a hard working and generous people will transfer under duress,

6 billion euro’s per year to faceless money changers. The figures are almost unimaginable and the loss to the good people of this island will be devastating. It is for this reason that we, Occupy Dame Street, and other Occupy movements throughout the Island of Ireland, are embarking on a radical campaign of peaceful direct actions. Through such direct actions we hope to raise awareness of the reality of what is happening to our community, the unnecessary deprivation for so many, that is today’s Ireland. We also hope to inspire and build a peaceful resistance movement dedicated to empowering the community of Ireland to make real the demands of Occupy Dame Street such as the realising of the potential of our natural resources and the acknowledgement of our shared intelligence and abilities through Peoples General Assemblies.

We call on the people of Ireland, political and apolitical, old and young, male and female, of every ethnic, cultural and religious background, to start planning for resistance in your own areas. If you are in the Suburbs of Dublin, Limerick, Cobh, Galway, Waterford, Letterkenny, Dundalk , Belfast or the many other urban communities of Ireland, start planning peaceful acts of resistance. If you are in the farmland parishes of Ireland, the hills of Wicklow, the plains of Meath, the rocky outposts of Kerry or on our beautiful Islands, start talking and planning. The power to make the community of Ireland a better place to live is in our hands, let’s grasp it and resist the unfair and unnecessary burden of bond/promissory payments, wage cuts and service reductions that, if not stopped, will further impoverish the good people of this Island nation.

Facebook page here.
Posted in Accountability, Action Stations, Austerity / Cutbacks, Bankers' Bailout, Civil Disobedience, ECB/IMF, Economy, EU, Ideology, ireland | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Everyone qualified to explain what happened complicit in pushing this… would give the rope to hang commentariat”


From Phillip Pilkington, writing at NakedCapitalism:

“almost every single person in Ireland today qualified to explain what happened was complicit in pushing this economic ideology. And so to explain to the Irish people what actually happened would be to give them the rope with which to hang the commentariat”

… with the government not running into debt and imports and exports roughly balanced, where could the new money required for growth come from? Well, obviously the private sector is the only place left — and indeed the new money came precisely and predictably from there. Ireland’s growth, as we were soon to see, relied almost wholly on private sector borrowing and the inflating of a massive housing bubble.

After the international community encouraged Ireland on this path, believing it to be the poster child for a dubious economic ideology, it is the Irish people that are supposed to take the blame for the failure of this policy model.

This is madness, of course. But no one notices. Why? Because they do not speak the language of power and must try to understand things in simple moral terms. Since most of the Irish population do not understand the economic model that was bestowed upon us by international leaders and their representatives in Ireland they must instead seek solace in simple moral arguments.

But why don’t our own patriotic commentariat explain what has happened and absolve the Irish people of their guilt in simple logical terms? Why don’t they point out that these reforms were sanctioned and pushed by the very people that now demand our infinite apologies? Because, quite simply, almost every single person in Ireland today qualified to explain what happened was complicit in pushing this economic ideology. And so to explain to the Irish people what actually happened would be to give them the rope with which to hang the commentariat.

Tragic as this may be, there is at least one saving grace: namely, that the Irish people know something stinks when the likes of Kenny comes out and play-acts his guilt in front of an international audience. There is a general feeling amongst the populace that they have been had. They know that during the boom years they played by the rules handed down from Frankfurt, Brussels and, yes, Davos — and they sense that it is these rules and the lawmen behind them that are to blame for the current mess.

Read more.

Posted in Accountability, Austerity / Cutbacks, Bankers' Bailout, Budget, Commodities & Cost of Living, ECB/IMF, Economy, EU, Housing Bubble, Ideology, ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Happy 25,000 hits” to us


Next: 50K…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Update (2): Bloody Sunday: Past… Present….. Future?


  • Brendan O’Neill / SpikedThe moral hijacking of Bloody Sunday:On the 40th anniversary of the massacre in Derry, it is remarkable how much Britain has exploited this event to its advantage… Courtesy of Saville, Bloody Sunday is now understood as a day on which certain British  soldiers went OTT (Saville said the paras ‘lost control’), causing great distress to certain Derry families. Of course Bloody Sunday is an occasion of private grief – but it is also an historic event with causes and consequences. All of that has been airbrushed from the record by a process of official remembering which has reduced Bloody Sunday to something like the Dunblane massacre, only involving paras and Catholics rather than a lone gunman and schoolchildren. Saville didn’t whitewash the individual paratroopers’ responsibility for the events, in the way Widgery did; no, he partook in a far more profound form of whitewashing, turning Bloody Sunday from a political quake into an out-of-control streetfight. In focusing attention on the misjudgement and moral turpitude of individual soldiers, Saville whitewashed the historical role of the British state in using force to deny democracy and equality in Ireland.
  • Nuacht24Mórshiúil Dhomhnach na Fola:Bhí breis agus míle duine páirteach inniu i mórshiúil chun cuimhneamh orthu sin ar scaoil Paraitruipéirí na Breataine iad ar 30 Eanáir 1972. Bhí easaontas idir gaolta na marbh faoi leanúint nó gan leanúint leis an mhórshiúil ach tá mionlach acu chun leanúint le mórshiúil go dtí go gcuirfear an dlí ar na saighdiúirí a bhí freagrach as an sleacht.
  • BreakingNews.ieBloody Sunday victims remembered: The Saville inquiry declared all the victims to be innocent, prompting an apology from British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010
  • BreakingNews.ieBloody Sunday remembered on 40th anniversary: The anniversary comes almost two years after the Saville Inquiry found that the British army’s actions were “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
  • LéargasBloody Sunday – The untold story: The reality is that the Paras were acting within a political and military regime constructed by their political masters and by the top generals.In the months before Bloody Sunday a secret British Cabinet committee – GEN 42 – had been discussing policy in the north. It was chaired by the British Prime Minister Ted Heath. It involved senior British Army figures and senior politicians, including Quentin Hogg, Lord Hailsham, who was on the far right of the Tory party, and was regarded as a hard militarist.In 1971, during an interview in which he was asked about US Senator Ted Kennedy Hailsham had banged the table with his fist and cried; “Those Roman Catholic bawstards! How dare they interfere!”Over 20 years later Michael Carver, who had been the British Army Chief of the General Staff, and was a member of GEN42 at that time, admitted that Heath had wanted soldiers to be able to shoot citizens irrespective of whether they were armed or not.

    He claimed that Heath had been told by Hailsham, who as Lord Chancellor was the head of the British judiciary, that this was legal.

  • Hell’s KitchenAn Excess of Abominations – Ireland’s Three ‘Bloody Sundays’;
  • Irish TimesBloody Sunday anniversary marked;
  • RTEEvents to mark Bloody Sunday anniversary – RTÉ News;
  • GuardianBloody Sunday:Bloody Sunday coverage from the Guardian, including the Saville inquiry and the publication of the full report.
  • bloodysundaytrust.orgBloody Sunday Trust – Dedicated to Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and healing;

Oh, hey – and this:

Posted in Accountability, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights & Liberties, Gardaí / Police, History, Human Rights, Intelligence / Securocrats, ireland, UK / Britain, Unions, USA / America | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ireland’s SOPA: “proposed law leaves future of Irish internet to discretion of Irish judges” – “the people will not accept diktat”


Proposed New Law

Minister Seán Sherlock has proposed a new law which is best explained here. It will be enacted by a single stroke of his pen.
Why are we opposed to this law?

  1. It is vague in the extreme. There are no details of what is considered a transgression. It isn’t clear if the site targeted will even be informed of the proceedings.
  2. The mere threat that allowing a user to post content could land the service in court will ensure that no service allows it. The implications are no more social media for Ireland, who the hell is going to take that risk?? This scares us greatly but will TERRIFY the likes of Google, Twitter, Facebook. Of course we have to stay here and live with it. They and their thousands of jobs, don’t.
  3. Its not fair. This is akin to letting Bank of Ireland take proceedings against the National Toll Roads Ltd when a getaway-driver uses the M50. Pretty soon, no one will want to build roads.
  4. It kills innovation and scares away foreign investment. Boards might have the clout and money to fight some of these injunctions. Smaller operators simply won’t.
  5. This wont even work. This will take the pirates 10 minutes to circumvent and I can demonstrate that easily if anyone wants to see.

Bad Law

This is the very definition of bad law. It punishes those who are trying to do what is right while doing nothing to stop the criminals. It seems to follow the headless chicken logic of “Something must be done!!! This is something, therefore we must do this!!”
Why is this being pushed through on the signature of one man without proper consultation with the industry and with the people of Ireland (over 45,000 of whom have already signed a petition against this)?
It won’t work, its vastly over powered and punishes the wrong people. It’s bad law and I’m asking Minister Sherlock to reconsider it.

Contact your local TD’s to protest this legislation
http://www.contact.ie/webform/stop-sopa-and-acta-ireland

For further details
http://www.thejournal.ie/ireland%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98sop…2012/
http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/reader-irelands-sopa-a-faq/
http://www.tjmcintyre.com/2012/01/music-industry-sues-i….html
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Ireland-SOPA-Sean-Sher….html
http://stopsopaireland.com/#2

What passes as “debate” on this important issue in our parliament by Mr Sherlock before fast tracking it through without a vote:
http://www.thejournal.ie/sherlock-still-committed-to-signing-imminent-copyright-law-338173-Jan2012/
Basically “we’re putting this through no matter what. But ye should all have a nice “organic” debate about it afterwards when it’s too late”

  • Martin FerrisLegislation must precede internet order – “the people will not accept diktat”: “Sinn Féin and other opposition parties, along with tens of thousands of concerned citizens, are still insisting on a full debate and legislation on this issue. Given the huge controversy over this and the potential damaging impact the proposed ministerial order will have, it is absolutely essential to the democratic process and the framing of proper domestic law that the Minister does not sign into law any measure until the proper legislative process is observed.“Allowing people to vent their frustrations is no substitute for democracy. The minister’s response is totally inadequate. There must be a full debate and legislation on this issue. The people will not accept diktat.”
Posted in Accountability, Action Stations, Civil Rights & Liberties, Culture & Entertainment, ireland | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update: Vincent Browne vs. “The Condescending Euro Prick”


Via:

Looks like the Ray Darcy Show have taken up the cause of getting the question answered. Here’s a link to their website for e-mailing Klaus Masuch:

http://www.todayfm.com/Shows/Weekdays/Ray-DArcy-Show/KlausEmail.aspx

Posted in Accountability, Audio/Video, Austerity / Cutbacks, Bankers' Bailout, Budget, ECB/IMF, Economy, EU, Geopolitics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

RTE forced to apologise for harmful report on Shell Protesters (Celtic League)


RTEs coverage of the long running dispute between Shell Oil and the community group opposed to their development of a gas refinery in North Mayo has long been questioned.

The broadcaster has seemed too willing to accept the propaganda pumped out by the Oil industry and their supporters in the Irish government to the detriment of impartiality and truth.

Now finally the broadcaster has got its comeuppance and tomorrow evening in to two prime slots will be forced to broadcast an apology for coverage deemed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to have been harmful to women involved in the Garda `rape’ recording case.

See earlier report on Celtic News here:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/3637

There is a full and detailed report on the latest developments at the Shell to Sea website (link here):

http://www.shelltosea.com/content/rte-apology

Subscribers to Celtic News who can access RTE TV News should tune in at 5:59 pm and 8:59pm ahead of their main news bulletins.

It will be interesting to see if RTE also carry the apology on their news site web pages.

The BAI has determined that the reports by RTE that the news report “caused undue distress and harm to the complainant in contravention of section 48(2) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 (harm & offence – Section 3.5.2 Code of Programme Standards).”

However it is questionable if the manner in which the women in question were treated is not also a breach of Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

You can access the BAI decisions in full at:

http://www.shelltosea.com/sites/default/files/images/17211_SixOneNews_Decision.pdf

http://www.shelltosea.com/sites/default/files/images/17311_NineNews_Decision.pdf

(This report compiled for Celtic News by Bernard Moffatt)

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666
gensec@celticleague.net
The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.

ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.
06/12/11
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works
to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a
broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights
human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on
socio-economic issues

Internet site at:
http://celticleague.net
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/

Posted in Accountability, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights & Liberties, ireland, Natural Resources | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letter from America: More Useful Idiocy from the 53 Percenters (Kevin Carson)


There’s some good in the Tea Party, but as far as I can see no good in the 53% movement at all. The Tea Partiers — some of them, some of the time — talk as if the Wall Street banksters were at least part of the enemy, and some of them at least pay lip service to opposing corporatism. Despite the movement having been so heavily coopted and bought out by Dick Armey and Rick Scott, there’s still some genuine populist outrage at the plutocracy — some “there” there.

The 53%’s defining feature, on the other hand, is its explicit indemnification of the plutocracts of any blame for average Americans’ current economic pain: “I don’t blame Wall Street.” The whole theme of the movement is that people who complain about corporate power and concentrated wealth are just a bunch of whiners — the word “whining” is right there in their sidebar. It’s positively painful to watch 53 percenters embarrass themselves with their lickspittle sycophancy toward the super-rich. What do they expect? A doggie biscuit?

Take, for instance, a letter to the editor in Sunday’s newspaper. It describes Occupy Wall Street as a “sweeping movement … protesting against those that have earned but won’t give to those who haven’t.” Other recurring talking points that appeared in the letter were “something for nothing,” “entitlement mindset,” and “nothing is free but comes through hard work.”  Finally, the author announces himself as “the 53 percent. The ones who actually pay taxes.”

Where do we start?

What Occupy Wall Street protests is the fact that so much wealth has been concentrated in the hands of those who haven’t earned it. The income of the CEOs and banksters who ran the economy into the ground has exploded by several hundred percent, while the wealth of those who’ve done the “hard work” has remained stagnant for forty years. The “entitlement mindset” of the one percent, of the one-tenth of one percent, comes through loud and clear every time you see one of their shills on the CNBC business shows or read the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

The author of that letter may consider himself a defender of “rugged individualism” and “free enterprise,” but in fact corporate capitalism is about as far as you can get — short of Stalin or Pol Pot — from genuine free enterprise.

Never mind, for the moment, prior stuff like the Enclosures, the slave trade, and all the other assorted atrocities on which historic capitalism — as opposed to a free market — was founded. For the past 150 years, we’ve had a corporate economy defined by the marriage of big business to big government. And the main function of big government in that system has been to protect the 1% from the market, and guarantee they keep right on getting something for nothing.

At least the writer didn’t use the “take a bath” witticism so common to his ilk. Every time I see someone drag out that one, I think of a quote from C.S. Lewis: “The greatest evil … is conceived and ordered … in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”

And let me tell you something about the 47% who allegedly don’t pay taxes, Mr. 53%. If you’ve worked for wages or a salary any time since the ’80s, you paid a greatly increased Social Security payroll tax — the most regressive tax there is — whose only real effect was to conceal the nominal deficit and offset tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

As politicians today are the first to tell you, all that SS surplus that went into the “trust fund” over the past twenty-odd years is represented by nothing but U.S. government bonds that can only be repaid by raising additional revenue somewhere. It’s a stack of IOUs. So, they’ll gleefully tell you, the only realistic response is to raise the retirement age and write off all that extra payroll tax we paid as bad debt.

So what happened, essentially, was a shift of the tax burden from millionaires and onto the backs of people paying payroll taxes. And it happened to a heckuva lot more than 53% of the population.

So write that on your little sheet of notebook paper and post it at “We Are The 53%,” you pathetic useful fool. Maybe your master will give you a pat on the head.

C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.
Posted in Austerity / Cutbacks, Bankers' Bailout, Budget, Civil Disobedience, Economy, Social Welfare, USA / America | Tagged , | Leave a comment

People’s Movement budget demonstration: European Parliament office, Molesworth Street Dublin, Tue. 6 Dec. 1 pm


People’s Movement budget demonstration

Assemble at the European Parliament office (Molesworth Street) Dublin.

Tuesday 6 December, 1 p.m.

Posted in Accountability, Action Stations, Austerity / Cutbacks, Budget, ECB/IMF, EFSF / European Financial Stability Fund, EU, Euro / Sovereign Money, Independence/Nationalism, ireland | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

UPDATE: “Deutschebank Uber Alles: Germany Imposes VAT Tithe On Ireland” (ExiledOnline.com)


Via ExiledOnline.com:

  • ReutersExclusive; Ireland to raise VAT in December budget: Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said he will not reveal the exact measures until he presents the budget on December 6.However, according to a document presented to the budget committee of the German lower house of parliament on Wednesday, Dublin will raise the top rate of value-added tax (VAT) to 23 percent, generating an additional 670 million euros.Under German law the budget committee has to be informed by the German government about any issues concerning the euro zone bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility… Ireland’s deputy prime minister said the government had not yet finalised the budget.

Read more.

Latest:

  • Slugger O’TooleDid Taoiseach submit #Budget2012 to Berlin for approval?: The Irish government is under pressure this evening as it is having to deny Press Association reported rumours that it has allowed the German government to inspect the budget before it is brought to the Dáil next month (i.e. well before the democractically members of Oireachtas get to see it).
  • Irish TimesKenny rejects report budget plan was leaked to Germans: Asked how the document ended up in the Bundestag, Mr Kenny said: “I have no idea.”
  • BloombergIrish Government Draws Fire as Budget Plans Shown to Germany: Ireland’s government laid out plans to raise sales tax and pledged to consider “ambitious” asset sales in documents shown to lawmakers in Germany before their Irish counterparts, drawing criticism from opposition politicians in Dublin.
  • BusinessInsider.comIrish PM Accused Of ‘Staggering Breach Of Faith’ After Copy Of National Budget Winds Up In The Hands Of Germany;
  • CNBCWas Ireland’s Budget Plan Leaked to Germany? – CNBC: A scandal is brewing in Dublin Thursday night that could have huge implications for the euro zone and the independence of its member governments.
  • RTEGovt concerned by leaking of Budget documents – RTÉ News: Brendan Howlin said the Government is anxious to find the source of the document and to ensure that any correspondence, interaction or dialogue with the funding partners is kept in the confidence that it is expected to be.
  • HeraldKenny denies Germany budget claims: Opposition politicians in Dublin rounded on the Taoiseach, with Sinn Fein suggesting the German Chancellor was pulling the strings. Asked how the document ended up in the Bundestag, Mr Kenny said: “I have no idea.”
  • Irish TimesBerlin’s MPs shrug off controversy over budget information: “We’re going to have to talk a lot more to each other about our budget process, that’s a lesson of the crisis,” said a German government official.
  • Irish ExaminerGerman MPs told Irish VAT set to hit 23%: ENDA KENNY was left humiliated after German MPs were given advance notice that Irish VAT rates would be raised in next month’s budget.Ministers scrambled to regain credibility, pointing the finger of blame at the troika, which oversees Irish financial decision making, after opposition leaders accused the Government of treating taxpayers with contempt.
  • Irish TimesReal decisions about Ireland’s future being made in Berlin and elsewhere: BEYOND THE Government’s huge embarrassment at the German Bundestag getting sight of Irish budgetary proposals in advance of the Oireachtas is a new and harsh reality – when you are a programme country you no longer have full ownership or control of your destiny, or even your secrets.
  • Daily MailMerkel tightens grip on eurozone: Why did Irish budget plans end up in Berlin?: Measures that Ireland will take as a condition of its bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund have already been made public.They include a property levy aimed at collecting £137million, while £92million is to be raised from a new carbon tax.The government will also raise £573million by hiking VAT from 21 per cent to 23 per cent.Ireland’s Department of Finance said it had no explanation for why the document – which was not signed by finance minister Michael Noonan – had ended up in German hands.Ireland was forced to accept a £73billion bailout package last year from the EU and IMF after the economy once dubbed the ‘Celtic Tiger’ rapidly turned into one of Europe’s basket cases.
  • The SpectatorA Republic, If You Can Keep It: The symbolism of this is pretty dire. These are still times for bitter melancholy in Ireland and many a Dubliner has rarely felt as republican as he does now that the state’s sovereignty is, shall we say, not what once it was. This, a friend says, is just another tale of life “under the occupation”

Discussion online:

Posted in Accountability, Austerity / Cutbacks, Bankers' Bailout, Budget, ECB/IMF, EFSF / European Financial Stability Fund, eurozone, Geopolitics, Germany, Independence/Nationalism, ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[UPDATE – Papandreou fires military chiefs] You read it here first: A Greek Coup? Part 3 of a continuing series…


  • 2/November, 2011. EUobserver.comAs government verges on collapse, Papandreou fires military chiefs: …in a development that has stoked fears of a potential military coup in the country, Papandreou on Tuesday also fired the entire high command of the armed forces along with some dozen other senior officers and replaced them with figures believed to be more supportive of the current political leadership.The heads of the country’s general staff, army, navy and air force were all dismissed following the meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence, the supreme decision-making body on national defense.The ministry maintains that the change in the military high command had long been scheduled. But such reshuffles, which take place every two to three years, do not normally result in the dismissal of the entire leadership.
  • 2/November, 2011. Politics.ie – Thread: Could instability lead to a coup in Greece?
  • 31/October 2011. Greek Reporter / Emmanouela Seiradaki – Shocking Forbes Article: What Greece Really Needs is a Military Coup: …in two weeks time Greeks will be celebrating the anniversary of the Athens Polytechnic uprising in 1973, an open anti-junta, revolt that ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17 after a tank crashed through the gates of the Technical University of Athens. This revolt was the beginning of the junta’s collapse. What’s really ironic is that the junta was in fact the result of foreign interference and oppression by right-wing governments that simply didn’t care about their people’s fate. Thirty seven years on, Greeks experience a new junta, this time financial while the prejudice against them has taken absurd proportions. Numbers don’t lie. The national blues literally kill Greeks. Suicide rates have doubled since last year. Private sector employees work endless hours for 400 euros a month. Young couples don’t have children simply because they can’t afford to while thousands want to emigrate. The majority of Greeks are not, in other words,  chilling on the beach drinking frappe and ouzo.But none of this matters to the leaders of the European “Union”. For them it seems that the question is always about getting their money back with maximum profit when it really should be about helping a country to recover since they are also largely responsible for its troubles.
  • 26/October, 2011. Forbes / Tim Worstal – The Appalling Greek Solution; A Military Coup:There’s a not very funny joke going around the financial markets at the moment, that the real solution to the Greek problem is a military coup. (Just to make it clear, no, of course I’m not advocating a coup. See below) Instead of Germany trying to fund the Greek debt they should instead sponsor such a coup:

    Only half in jest is it sometimes said that a better use for Germany’s money than pouring it down the drain of further bail-outs would be to sponsor a Greek military coup and solve the problem that way…..

    The reason being that a military dictatorship cannot be in the European Union. Thus, if there was such a military coup Greece would immediately have to leave the EU and thus whatever happened to its economy would simply be someone else’s problem.

Previously, on Rebel-Alliance.org:

Posted in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights & Liberties, Debt Default/Restructuring, ECB/IMF, Economy, EU, Euro / Sovereign Money, Geopolitics, Greece, Human Rights, Intelligence / Securocrats, War & Peace | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Go Tweet Yourself: A Kick in the #Aras11 – selection of funniest Irish Presidential Race tweets



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[UPDATE 3: President Elect Michael D Higgins video acceptance speech; ] #Aras11 Irish Presidential Race


Overall voter turnout in the election is was 56.11%.

The quota to reach to be deemed elected is was 885,882.

Count 4:

  • Higgins 1,007,104 (+213,976)
  • Gallagher 628,114 (+79,741)

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Exit poll leak (IrishCentral.com): SG 32, MDH 27, MMcG 20, GM 11, DN 6, DRS 2, MD 2


From Irish CentralEarly exit poll — unconfirmed — received at 11 p.m Irish time:

Sean Gallagher 32

Michael D. HIggins 27

Martin McGuinness 20

Gay Mitchell 11

David Norris 6

Dana 2

Mary Davis 2

Read more.

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“Ultimate winner today will be candidate who garners enough 2nd, 3rd & even 4th preferences.” (Irish Times)


From the Irish TimesIn order of preference: how to maximise the effectiveness of your vote:

TODAY, FOR only the second time since 1938, a presidential election will ultimately be determined by the second, third and fourth preferences cast by voters….

…“plumpers” – voters who don’t vote down 2,3,4, beyond their No1 – potentially forgo the chance to determine who is and who is not elected. Every preference may count, and every opportunity declined to use a vote effectively, to vote through the list, may also tell in what promises to be a knife-edge election…

This year, unless the polls are seriously wrong, no candidate is likely to be within 10 percentage points of a simple majority on the first count. The election, with seven in the race spread out the way they appear to be, is certain to go to a second, probably a third, and possibly even fourth or fifth counts.

The ultimate winner today will be the candidate who garners enough second, third and even fourth preferences.

And voters who want to do everything they can to ensure a specific candidate is not elected should use their vote as effectively as possible, by placing a 7 opposite their most disliked candidate and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 opposite the others in whichever order appeals…

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Vote for real change – vote Martin McGuinness 1 (Guest Post)



  • ChoiceThere is a real choice in the election between Martin McGuinness and candidates from parties who bankrupted the country and are now making ordinary people pay through massive cuts. [The fact is that Sean Gallagher’s party wrecked the economy and Michael D. Higgins party are now making all of us pay for it.]
  • Martin will be a Peoples President. He will stand with local communities and ordinary people – not developers and big business. He will be an outspoken President and will lead by example and will only take home the average wage.
  • President for all of IrelandHe will be a President for all of Ireland and the Irish diaspora.
  • Jobs – Jobs will be the cornerstone of Martin’s Presidency – he brought 14,000 jobs to Ireland and will use his international reputation to bring jobs to all of Ireland.
  • Real patriotism – Standing with local communities – Throughout his campaign Martin has stood with parents heartbroken by the emigration of their children, with hospital campaigners, with people being denied the right to cut turf on their own bogs, with parents being denied Special Needs Assistants for their children and with families up and down the country struggling to make ends meet in the face of unemployment and crippling mortgage payments. He met with descendants of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. All of these people represent what real Irish patriotism is about. That is who Martin will stand with if elected President.
  • Building a real Republic where citizens have rightsMartin will build on the achievements of the peace process and use the office of President to help build towards Irish unity. A republican President in Áras an Uachtaráin for 2016 – someone who wants to see the vision of the Proclamation delivered. He would use the next ten years as a Decade of Reconciliation to celebrate the diverse nature of our society.
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Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution – Referendum on Inquiries by the Oireachtas: For/Against


Referendum on Inquiries by the Oireachtas Wording

2° Each House shall have the power to conduct an inquiry, or an inquiry with the other House, in a manner provided for by law, into any matter stated by the House or Houses concerned to be of general public importance.

3° In the course of any such inquiry the conduct of any person (whether or not a member of either House) may be investigated and the House or Houses concerned may make findings in respect of the conduct of that person concerning the matter to which the inquiry relates.

4° It shall be for the House or Houses concerned to determine, with due regard to the principles of fair procedures , the appropriate balance between the rights of persons and the public interest for the purposes of ensuring an effective inquiry into any matter to which subsection 2° applies.

FOR – Sinn Féin:

Why you should vote yes

It is important to remember why this constitutional change is necessary in the first place. Following the shooting dead of John Carthy by the gardaí a joint committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas issued directions to members of an Garda Síochána to attend and give evidence to cross examination by the Committee. Members of the gardaí refused to come before the committee and a legal challenge ensued. The Supreme Court ultimately found that the inquiry could not proceed as Oireachtas Committees did not have the legal authority to hold such an inquiry. Only an amendment to the Constitution could give the Oireachtas the power to inquire into matters of public interest. We are supporting the referendum because we want this tool of democratic accountability.

But what about a person’s right to a good name?

The constitutional amendment does not take away this right or indeed the basket of rights we enjoy as citizens as set out in the constitution. The amendment in the constitution clearly states that the Oireachtas has the power in conduct an inquiry ‘in a manner provided for by law’ . In addition the amendment secured by Sinn Féin underpins this right with ‘ due regard to the principles of fair procedures .’ This amendment gives an Oireachtas Committee the right to compel a witness to come before the inquiry and to be cross examined.

But some commentators have described the Committee inquiry as a Kangaroo Court?

This is crude and inaccurate. The amendment will allow for Oireachtas committees to conduct inquiries and to make findings of fact. The inquiries can only be established in accordance with the law. The inquiries must also be in accordance with the norms of fair procedure as established in the courts. Should an inquiry fall short of that standard it can and will be subject to judicial review by the courts.

Should more time have been allowed for debate?

Of course more time should have been allowed. Amending the Constitution is no small matter. Sinn Féin raised this concern a number of times.

Bottom line

It is Sinn Féin’s position that the Oireachtas like parliaments/upper houses across the world should be empowered to hold inquiries in accordance with the law. TDs and Senators are elected by the people to represent them yet throughout the crisis representatives elected by the people have been left powerless when it comes to holding those to account who have acted against the public good. Parliamentary inquiries are not meant to replace the courts however as the Oireachtas is a place of democratic accountability inquiries have a role to play in protecting the public interest. There has been suggestion, particularly from the judiciary, that one arm of the State (the Oireachtas) can work is isolation to other (the Courts). This is simply not true in theory or in practice . People always have recourse to the courts and the inquiry process itself can and no doubt will be subject to judicial review.

AGAINST – Vincent Browne:

Inquiries proposal is a dangerous one (Politico.ie)

We are being asked to vote tomorrow on whether or not we should give the government further power by enabling it to hold inquiries into anything except its own conduct. We should say no.

It is clear any functioning parliament should have the capacity to hold the government of the day fully accountable, and part of the armoury for doing so is, or should be, parliamentary inquiries. But there are two huge problems associated with this, and with what is proposed.

The first problem is that we do not have a functioning parliament, and that, inevitably, parliamentary inquiries will not be used – under our system they could not be used – to hold the government of the day accountable. This is because, in our system, governments control parliament and control committees of parliament, and in that regard we probably have the most dysfunctional parliament in Europe since the collapse of the communist dictatorships.

The UK parliament, the House of Commons in particular, is not great either, but even last Monday, that parliament showed its independence of government when 81 Tory backbenchers voted against the government in supporting a demand for a referendum on EU membership.

Today, German chancellor Angela Merkel has to return to the German parliament to get authority to sign a deal on an EU rescue plan. The German constitution requires her to do this, and the Bundestag will vote today on the EU deal before anything is signed in Brussels. Article 38 of the German Basic Law (the German constitution) states: “Members of the German Bundestag shall be . . . representatives of the whole people, not bound by orders or instructions, and responsible only to their conscience,” (which means no whips system, as we have here).

This law also provides for investigative committees. Article 44 states: “[The Bundestag] shall have the right, and on the motion of one quarter of its members, to establish an investigative committee, which shall take the requisite evidence at public hearings.”

If something along those lines were proposed here, that would be progress. But what is now proposed merely is to give the government further power by enabling it to hold inquiries into anything, except of course its own conduct. So the central point in holding inquiries won’t and cannot happen here because of the way the government controls parliament.

There is a further problem, and it is that the constitutional amendment could preclude the courts from having any role in preventing abuses by Oireachtas inquiries of citizens’ rights and entitlements, and access to fair procedures. Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, who is sponsoring this amendment, has stated his advice from the Attorney General is “crystal clear” that the courts will have oversight. I asked for this advice to be made public, and this was refused.

I asked Howlin why, if the courts have the ultimate authority to adjudicate on fair procedures, this is not stated in the amendment, his reply was it was “crystal clear” the courts could intervene.

The relevant part of the proposed amendment states: “It shall be for the House or Houses to determine, with due regard to the principles of fair procedures, the appropriate balance between the rights of persons and the public interest for purposes of ensuring an effective enquiry into .”

Where is the “crystal clear” here? If this is passed, it will almost certainly never be repealed in the lifetimes of a majority of the people who will endorse it. Every successive government will have a vested interest in maintaining an inquiry process it can control. Under our bizarre system, no constitutional amendment can ever get on the agenda without the approval of the government.

Yes, we need to reform the system. But this reform would just make it worse. This is the most dangerous constitutional amendment ever proposed since this Constitution was enacted. It should be defeated.

Interview on Morning Ireland radio programme (20/10/2011) with Judge Brian McMahon, Chairman of Referendum Commission

PRESENTER: In one of two referendums being held today week we are being asked to add into the Constitution giving powers of inquiry to Oireachtas Committees. At present their powers are not defined in the Constitution. If we vote yes they will be described in 3 new clauses which Brian Jennings is going to read for us now. The proposed new wording will be added into Article 15.10 starting with subsection 2

2 Each House shall have the power to conduct an inquiry, or an inquiry with the other House, in a manner provided for by law, into any matter stated by the House or Houses concerned to be of general public importance.

3 In the course of any such inquiry the conduct of any person (whether or not a member of either House) may be investigated and the House or Houses concerned may make findings in respect of the conduct of that person concerning the matter to which the inquiry relates.

4 It shall be for the House or Houses concerned to determine, with due regard to the principles of fair procedures, the appropriate balance between the rights of persons and the public interest for the purposes of ensuring an effective inquiry into any matter to which subsection 2 applies.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you Brian. I put a range of questions about the details and the potential affects of the amendment to the Chairman of the Referendum Commission, former High court Judge Dr. Bryan McMahon. The first question was submitted by Morning Ireland listener David Robert about the results of supreme court judgment in the Abbeylara case which stopped a committee inquiry into the shooting of a man in Co. Longford. If such an event were to occur again, David asks, what difference would the amendment make and he also asked for an explanation in simple terms of what an Oireachtas Committee would be able to do?

Judge McMahon: Well the first point to note in the proposed amendment is that it gives a power to the House or Houses of the Oireachtas to conduct an inquiry into any matter stated by the House or Houses to be of general public importance. Now thats new. Abbeylara said initially that there was no inherent power in the Oireachtas and Houses of the Oireachtas to have an inquiry of this nature.

Interviewer: That’s what the courts found. Judge McMahon: That’s what the courts found. So this is an attempt to establish in the Constitution that the House now have rights to conduct an inquiry into any matters of public interest.

Interviewer: So if an Oireachtas committee wanted to inquire into an issue, a very very serious issue involving the death of a citizen, it would, if we vote yes, be able to do so in a way it wasn’t able in the case of Abbeylara.

Judge McMahon: But the second point of importance is contained in the second paragraph they can also, in holding such an inquiry, inquire into the conduct of any person and make findings in respect of that conduct – so they can hold an inquiry now and they can also make inquiry into the conduct of persons and also make findings which might be adverse to that persons reputation.

Interviewer: Other than what you have just said would inquiries, if we vote yes to this amendment be more powerful than the tribunals of inquiries that we have seen in recent years?

Judge McMahon: There are many other tribunals out there and the powers which these tribunals have are set out in their own legislation so it is difficult for me to answer that in a comparative way, because we dont know yet what powers of inquiry the Houses are going to have because all we have is a bill which purports to set out what the Government say they will do if these proposals are passed….. the powers of such inquiries will be what the Government say they are.

Interviewer: and that’s in draft legislation to be passed when and if we vote yes?

Judge McMahon: Yes. The amendment says that the inquiry shall be allowed and it shall be in a manner provided for by law, but the law is not defined as yet and if, say,you vote yes to this it is up to the government then to introduce the appropriate law to give effect to this referendum.

Interviewer: There is a draft Bill published. Could that draft Bill be changed and if it were changed, would it affect whether this amendment stands or not?

Judge McMahon: There is a draft bill published but that is not any business of the Commission-our job is to explain the amendment to the Constitution and there is no obligation on the Government to follow through with the draft as drafted and in fact you could have a situation where the government might change its mind on certain things in that draft bill going through the Oireachtas they may introduce amendments and indeed you could in an extreme situation, you could consider that if a government fell before the law was..(passed) you could have a new government with a new bill.

INTERVIEWER: Will these inquiries apply to officials, politicians , public servants or do these inquiries apply to everyone?

Judge McMahon: The inquiry can apply to anyone. It says that in the course of such inquiry the conduct of any person may be investigated so it is not confined to public servants  it’s not confined to any particular group of people. Any person can be investigated in these committees.

INTERVIEWER: Let’s turn to the issue of who will make the final decision about the application of peoples’ rights particularly if they feel they have been infringed, the Courts or the Oireachtas? Now the Constitutional expert Gerry Whyte wrote in the Examiner on Tuesday that clause 3 of this amendment if passed, would significantly restrict the ability of the courts to protect the rights of any person being investigated by an Oireachtas committee. Would you agree with that view?

Judge McMahon: Well that has been the view of the Commission. We have expressed it in our literature and in our website that the paragraph 3 which specifically provides that it’s for the house or houses concerned to determine, with due regard to fair procedures, the appropriate balance between the rights of the individual, who might be before such an inquiry , on the one hand, and the purpose of trying to ensure an effective inquiry on the other hand. That balance is now to be struck by the Houses themselves, and provided they have due regard to fair procedures the courts in that situation would have very great difficulty in second guessing the balance which the houses have struck in any individual case. Now, I should say that these inquiries can vary from very simple inquiries into, for instance, why a railway bridge collapsed to an inquiry where one considers whether a person who was unlawfully shot In the case of the bridge collapsing, the inquiry might be just to find out what happened and it might be a scientific examination where they find that the wrong cement was used or a weakened girder was used and that caused it.. But if they go the next step and they say well who was at fault for that then you get into a different stage of the inquiry. So in the latter case where you are talking about faulty persons, people might find that their fair procedures need to be guarded better. But in the earlier inquiry where there is just a factual determining what happened on this night in
this case, it might be just a scientific discussion and there would be no need to have lawyers at your side or cross examination rights or anything like that so it will vary on the inquiry in question.

INTERVIEWER: But what about the other basic rights that will still be in our Constitution if we vote yes- the rights to natural justice, the rights to our good name the right to privacy and so on. Wouldn’t it always be open to a court to entertain a reasonable submission by someone who felt my rights, under one or other of these headings, obviously your right to a good name, were not properly applied or defended by this committee and therefore what they are proposing to do or their findings that they propose to issue are wrong and should be stopped?

Judge McMahon: Well that might be a fair statement BEFORE this amendment was passed where the courts, as in the Abbeylara case itself, when they saw a guard or a group of Gardai were being investigated and inquiring and were going to be suggestions that they were discharging weapons improperly, or whatever word one wants to use, in that situation the Gardai were able to go to the courts and get the courts to look to see what fair procedures were going to be applied. BUT NOW you have to read all of these rights subject to this amendment and whatever your rights or reputation, good reputation or your good name , this new amendment when your good name is challenged within an inquiry established by the Houses of the Oireachtas, it may be less protected because of this amendment. That of course is justified in the amendment, according to those who are supporting it, by the public interest to get an effective inquiry.

INTERVIEWER: The issue of legal representation. Would a person, if we vote yes, called before an Oireachtas inquiry be entitled to legal representation if they felt they needed it?

Judge McMahon: The question of legal representation or any of the other fair procedure rights are now transferred to the House to determine the balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the effective inquiry and that’s a matter initially for the house to determine and it would be difficult, as I say in those circumstances if they decided that in this case,you are not entitled to legal representation, for the courts to intervene and override that, provided everything else was in order.

INTERVIEWER: If a person got a copy of a draft report from a committee and felt it was unfair and felt it was about to form an unjustified conclusion in relation to what they had done would they have a decent chance of being able to go to Court, and if they could establish that what happened was unfair, be able to prevent the publication of the findings?

Judge McMahon: Well again, I think that the draft legislation does make provision for draft report and the objection by the person who is named therein to do something abut it, but then I can’t say because the amendment to the Constitution does not make any provision for that so it will be dependent on the legislation that is introduced whether you have a right in that situation or not.

Interviewer: Would the legal, situation of witnesses giving evidence before Oireachtas committees be the same in relation to appearances in court in the event of any prosecution?

Judge McMahon: I think the short answer is yes and since time is limited here I’ll leave it at that. By and large the decision to prosecute will be a DPP decision afterwards in the criminal court which is an independent process.

INTERVIEWER: Nothing that you say before an Oireachtas committee can be used in court?

Judge McMahon: Well not as evidence, not directly as evidence.

INTERVIEWER: Would a Parliamentary committee with powers to refer issues to investigation to a totally impartial group -wouldn’t that bea better solution?

Judge McMahon: Well the Commission’s role is not whether or not there are better solutions out there or not, there may be, but we’re here to determine and explain the proposal that is put to the people and whether there are better or worse alternatives out there is not for the Commission to comment on.

INTERVIEWER: Now these questions may not be for you to answer but let me just raise them with you. If we vote yes would you be compelled if required to give evidence to an Oireachtas inquiry would an Oireachtas inquiry investigator have the power to search your house?

Judge Mc Mahon: Well This will all depend on the legislation that is to be brought in and as I say the amendment suggest that these inquiries will be conducted in a manner provided for by law and we await the law. We have a draft Bill but the law will determine what procedures are to be followed in these situations and what rights are to be determined in that type of situation.

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Irish Emigrants Choose Michael D Higgins As Next President: Ballotbox.ie


The aim of the site was to highlight that Irish emigrants are immediately disenfranchised upon leaving the country. This is in stark contrast to many other democracies, including the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada, and most EU countries.An estimated 3.1 million Irish passport holders live abroad, with 800,000 being Irish-born.More than 40,000 Irish people emigrated in the 12months ending April 2011, with 28,000 people having left the year before…

Eight months on from the 2011 General Election and there has been little progress in the fight for voting rights for Irish people abroad. Started by Irish emigrants, Ballotbox.ie saw over 5000 Irish people vote in the General Election from abroad, giving them a voice which the Irish government had refused to offer.

Unlike so many other countries Ireland does not offer its citizens the right to vote if they reside outside of the 26 counties.

With so much talk of the need to harness the global Irish community to help Ireland get back on it’s feet, it seems the powers that be are failing to grasp the importance of keeping recent emigrants involved in the national conversation.

Ballotbox.ie Presidential Election 2011

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UPDATE: Gallagher versus Gallagher – I did not have Chequal relations with that man…


From Irish Central:

From Politics.ie:

Sean Gallagher talking to Rachael English on Morning Ireland, 20th of October, 2011:

English: So you rang people up and invited them?

Gallagher: No, people that I met, I explained that there was this event coming up. I have to make it very clear, I sought no money, I received no money from anybody, that was dealt with by Headquarters Fianna Fail Headquarters. I also want to make it very clear that while I attended the event I was not asked for money, I made no contribution myself in either a personal capacity or as a corporate donation either before the event, during the event, or after the event.

English: How many people did you invite?

Gallagher: I think I mentioned to possibly three or four people, and I have no idea to this day whether or not they made a donation whatsoever.

Seán Gallagher talking to Brian Dobson, October 25, 2011:

Dobson: You say and indeed Mr Morgan says he never met you before he didn’t know you when he made

Gallagher: nor since

Dobson: it was a cold call if you like to see if he’d come along to this event

Gallagher: somebody had given me his name…

Dobson: presumably you phoned him up and he asked about this and you told him that there would be a donation of €5,000 expected to attend this

Gallagher: what I was asked to say was that there was a level of up to €5,000, I have no idea, until I saw this

Dobson: that’s what you told him

Gallagher: correct

Dobson: that he would pay €5,000 for this

Gallagher: make a donation up to

Dobson: but previously your spokesperson said that you had not solicited a donation for Fianna Fail. That’s not true is it?

Gallagher: no, that’s not true, what I said was that there was a fundraising event happening and if he liked to come along he could make a donation

Dobson: right, and that doesn’t count as soliciting, no?

Gallagher: I’m saying that that’s what I said

Dobson: was that not soliciting a donation?

Gallagher: well it could be

Dobson: why did your spokesperson say you did not solicit a donation

Gallagher: I’m not sure what my spokesman said but I’m telling you now exactly what I said

Dobson: Well I’ll give you now that quote. Your spokesman said that “at no point did he actively solicit any donation, he would have been in touch with a number of people he knew to tell them it was on”. To discover you didn’t actually know Mr Morgan.

Gallagher: Correct

Dobson: But that’s not true either.

Gallagher: Well no no let me clarify. I asked a number of business people in the area did they want to attend and one of them obviously recommended Mr. Morgan as somebody who might like to attend.

Dobson: So you did ask people who you didn’t know as it turns out

Gallagher: I asked people I did know and if they recommended someone else that they knew

Dobson: right

Gallagher: and so I was not aware of this

Dobson: so you did invite people who you didn’t know and you did solicit a donation from at least one of those people

Gallagher: this was a fundraising event and I informed anyone that I rang there was a level up to which they could nominate or donate and that they would make that payable to Fianna Fáil Headquarters

Dobson: Just finally, none of this is remotely remarkable at all, it’s what you would expect someone who’s involved in a political party to do after an election to try to rebuild

Gallagher: absolutely correct

Dobson: to ring around and ask people to come along and support us and you were doing whatever any other senior Fianna Fail figure

Gallagher: Well I wasn’t a senior Fianna Fail figure

Dobson: Well you were a campaign director for a TD at the time

Gallagher: well I had been in 2007 and I was quite happy to assist the event by inviting local businesspeople. Now, the allegation is made that there is something corrupt, the cheque was made out to Fianna Fail Headquarters and I did not collect

Dobson: you have not been telling the truth

Gallagher: no not at all

Dobson: that’s the allegation, there’s no allegation of corruption here at all

Gallagher: one of the first things, I always tell the truth, anyone’s who’s watched my campaign knows two things, one I do not get involved in negative campaigning and two I always tell the truth, always.

Dundalk Argus: Tell us the full story

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