Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category


Press statement


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Payment of over €700 million to unsecured Anglo bondholders is an obscenity


Anglo bondholders hold an estimated combined wealth one hundred times greater than Ireland’s GDP!


Responding to the handing over of €715 million of tax payers money to senior unsecure bondholders Joe Higgins TD said –


“The economist and documentary maker David Malone estimates that the Anglo bondholders being paid off today by the Irish government have control over combined funds of €20.8 trillion, that is one hundred times Ireland’s GDP in 2008 before the crash!


“Is there a more glaring equation that demonstrates the asymmetry of economic relations in the world of today that you can have a transfer of wealth wrung from ordinary people through savage austerity to these ‘masters of the universe’ ?


“David Malone goes on to conservatively estimate that Anglo only accounts for one five thousandth part of the total funds managed by bond holders the world over. Yet our Taoiseach and Minister of Finance today would have us believe that the non payment by this state of private debt arising from risky investments in property by these geniuses would set off a global chain reaction that would result in catastrophe for the Irish economy.


“What world are these people living in? I see the catastrophic consequences of three years of failed austerity measures with more to come if this government gets it way.


“The refusal of the Government to have this handover of money debated and voted upon today in the Dáil is simply a disgrace.


Clare Daly TD commented:


“The word ‘masochistic’ springs to mind when I hear the Taoiseach boast of how much punishment the people of this country will take in terms of paying fully the private losses incurred by speculators.


“The write down obtained on the Greek debt has rightly put the spotlight on this government and its failure to hold true to its promises to reduce the debt.


“The referendum announcement from Athens now puts a new spotlight on the government here. They have no mandate to pay the unsecured bondholders in Anglo. This and the whole EU/IMF austerity strategy should be put to a vote of the people.


“The Taoiseach is correct when he lists the terrible cuts in living standards still demanded of the working people and unemployed of Greece despite this write down which is why I hope the people there go all the way in rejecting the bailout deal. Let’s be clear, we say not one cent of private debt should be paid by the ordinary people of Europe.


“Non payment by itself is not a solution but it is a start. It has to be supplemented by policies that involve seizing the key wealth and assets in society and investing them in the creation of jobs. This is the only way to lift society out of the crisis.”


Responding to the news of Etihad Airways interest in buying the state’s 25% stake in Aer Lingus Dublin North TD and Aer Lingus SIPTU Shop Steward Clare Daly said: 


“The proceeds of any sale like the sale of other state assets are intended purely to clear the private debt the state has taken on. The final sums the 25% stake in Aer Lingus might fetch at this juncture would barely make a dent in that colossal debt. 


“The rationale behind the government maintaining a stake in Aer Lingus, we were told, was that regardless of the fact it has become an essentially private interest it was of strategic importance to our island economy. If that was the case at the time of the previous sell off of shares I ask the government what has change? 


“It is clear to me and to anybody else familiar with the airline industry the Etihad’s interest in Aer Lingus lies not with maintaining and expanding routes between Ireland and the rest of the world but rather Aer Lingus’s 23 Heathrow slots which they would like for trans Atlantic routes. 


“Such an outcome would come at the cost of jobs. My colleagues in Aer Lingus will have to ready themselves for further battles in the months and years ahead. The sell off of the government’s stake in Aer Lingus is a final chapter in a story of economic treason which workers in other commercial semi states should draw lessons from when the government comes after them .”  

Economy, Environment

Defend Our Homes League
No repossessions – No Evictions – bail out Home OwnersPress statement 12/10/2011

Expert Group report on mortgage crisis could have been drawn up by the banks.

We note that the banks have welcomed the Keane Report on the mortgage crisis and it is no wonder. There is no criticism of their role in creating the crisis, and no criticism of how they are

responding now to the problems of distressed home owners.

There is no mention of the role of sub-prime lenders or proposals to regulate their activities, or indeed of the ‘financial advise agencies’ who are moving in like sharks to profit from the problems people face in managing their debts. It is our view that such companies and sub-prime lenders should be barred from operating in Ireland.

The whole tone and direction of this report very firmly comes down on the side of the banks and the status quo. To quote from the report, ” there is no entitlement to a particular solution and solutions have consequences – there are unsustainable situations and unfortunately it is inevitable that people will lose their homes…”

The idea that these very limited proposals will simply be ‘guidelines’ for the banks is a joke. There is widespread anecdotal evidence that the banks regard following such guidelines, such as the existing guidelines from the Central Bank as a formality. There is little real engagement with home owners in difficulty.

If the government accepts this report as the basis of its response to a crisis affecting

thousands of families, its commitment to keep people in their homes is merely an empty phrase, yet another broken promise.

The Defend Our Homes League will continue to campaign for real solutions to this crisis. We will use peaceful protest to prevent evictions. Please see below our submission to the expert group for details of our proposals.

Contact – Joan Collins TD 086 3888151- David Hall-087 7775577 – Caroline Lennon – 087 9931201.

Submission to the inter-departmental group on mortgage arrears from the Defend our Homes League. 11-09-09

The Defend our Homes League came from an initial meeting at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin this July. The meeting was organised by United Left Alliance TDs. Joan Collins, Joe Higgins, Seamus Healy, Clare Daly, and Richard Boyd Barrett; and supported by Catherine Murphy TD, Mick Wallace TD,
Luke Flanagan TD, Maureen O’SullivanTD, Thomas Pringle TD, Finian McGrath TD, and John Halligan TD. The meeting was also supported by legal group New Beginning, and Irish Home Owners Unite.

Our aim is to organise home owners on a national basis to keep people in their homes, to stop repossessions and to prevent evictions. We believe that this has to be the priority of government policy.

We reject any notion that there is a so called ‘moral hazard’ in assisting home owners who were forced into buying family homes at hugely inflated prices as a result of a property bubble brought about by the greed of bankers and developers with the assistance of previous governments. There is no moral hazard in assisting those who have lost their jobs or businesses or otherwise are experiencing a sharp drop in income as a result of the economic crisis whose severity is in large part due to the collapse of the property bubble.

A recent Central Bank report shows the scale of the crisis that is developing for many home owners. There are 777,321 mortgages on private residential properties in the Republic, with a total value of 115 billion euro. Of these 55,763 are over 90 days in arrears or 7.2% of the total.
In addition 69,837 mortgages have been restructured, of which 39,395 are not in arrears. This means that around 100,000 mortgages( including restructured and now back in arrears) are in trouble to some degree and the trend is upwards.

The state owned banks, AIB, TSB, EBS and nationwide hold about 70billion of the overall mortgage market of 143 billion. BOI has a further 28 billion, Ulster Bank 22billion and Bank of Scotland 10billion.

We believe that there are essentially four groups who need urgent action on their behalf by the government. Those who are in arrears and need short to medium term assistance until their financial circumstances improve, those who wish to surrender their mortgages and become tenants, those in negative equity, and those who have had their homes repossessed but still have substantial and unpayable debts.

In terms of the first group we support the idea of a state agency -maybe MABS or something similar-acting as an independent assessor of peoples’ ability to pay. We are absolutely opposed to any ‘solution’ based on the banks making these decisions. This agency should have the power to recommend either interest only payments, reduced payments with an extension of the mortgage, or regular payment below interest only if necessary.

Secondly there must be an option for those who no longer wish to be saddled with huge debt to surrender their mortgage and have any negative equity written off. They should also have the option of remaining in their home as tenants with the rent set at ability to pay. Alternatively they may seek social housing elsewhere and should be entitled to do so.
This option may involve 5 to 10% of those in difficulties, about 5,000 to 10,000 people, and the cost of the debt write off would be within the default calculations already factored into the recapitalisation of the banks.

Those who have already lost their homes should also have any outstanding balance of debt written off.

Finally there is the problem of negative equity. The ESRI report by D. Duffy in October 2009 suggested that in a worst case scenario there could be around 175,000 first time buyers in negative equity, amounting to an estimated 13 billion euros. If the banks had been nationalised at the start of this crisis, and reorganised and recapitalised at a fraction of the 100 billion thrown at them so far, a write down of mortgages to relate to actual house values today, or a write down to 120% or so of the market value, would have been entirely feasible. This would help those in negative equity and also provide a stimulus for the domestic economy as people would have more to spend. We believe that the government should ensure work is undertaken to determine the cost of such a write down over the course of the next months.

We also believe Subprime lenders should be taken out of housing market.
Their loan books should be taken over by state. The high Interest rates they have been charging should be reduced to lowest current level. In addition there should be a state clampdown on loan shark money lenders such as Moneyvillage.
We also are for a general interest rate freeze. free legal aid for home owners before the courts and for suitable NAMA properties to be made available to dramatically increase social housing stock.

Joan Collins TD and Clare Daly TD on behalf of the Defend Our Homes League.

Economy, Environment

National Organising Forum of Campaign to take place next Saturday at 1:30pm in Teacher’s Club in 36 Parnell Square

“Minister Phil Hogan’s statement yesterday that people will ‘pay through the nose’ for water is a true indication of what ordinary people will be faced with in a short few years if the government gets its way.

“Despite his other utterances about the recently announced Household Charge being ‘only €100’ people well understand that as we seen with the bin tax this is but a first stage of what ESRI economist John Fitzgerald estimates will be combined water and property taxes of over €1,000 per annum.

“Early indications from street stalls activities and door to door canvases by activists in communities alongside opinion polls show deep opposition in society to these charges and a widespread willingness to engage in an active boycott campaign.

“A number of left political groups, residents associations and ordinary community and trade union activists have initiated the Campaign Against Household & Water Taxes. We see ourselves building a mass campaign of non-payment throughout the country in the same tradition as the successful Anti Water Charges Campaign of the 1990s.

“Already some 80 to 100 public meetings are being planned for every community in Dublin and city and county. This Saturday’s National Organising Forum is intended to equip people who want to fight the charge from across the country with the know-how for building campaigns of non-payment in their community. Anybody who wants to fight this charge is welcome to attend.

“Before this unjust Household Charge is implemented in January there will be in place a visible campaign capable of getting information into the communities and responding to every threat that comes from the government to bully people into payment.

It is well understood by many working people and the unemployed that this charge is simply another austerity measure at the behest of the EU/IMF which won’t boost the services provided by our local authorities. People are at breaking point and the Household Charge alongside other cuts and impositions will provoke an inevitable fightback.”