Ireland: Left vows to fight austerity

Issue 

The public finances of Ireland will, for the next three years at least, be subject to “regular reviews” by external monitors working on behalf of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU) and the British and Swedish governments.

On November 21, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen and minister for finance Brian Lenihan, after a week of shocking lies and deceit, said they would accept the IMF/EU bailout.

It later emerged that the G7, made up of the seven most powerful countries in the world, had met to give its approval to the deal.

The total of the IMF and EU funds, as well as aid from the British exchequer and elsewhere, is expected to reach about €100 billion.

Most of the money is destined to disappear into the Irish banks, which are coping with unknown losses and the potential collapse of which is said to threaten the European and even the global economy.

The program, as agreed with the international bodies, will last three years. However, the exact amount of financial aid and the conditions to be applied to all of the funds still remain unknown.

It was also disclosed that, separately, Britain and Sweden are both to extend multibillion-euro loans to Ireland, also with undisclosed conditions.

Cowen, leader of the ruling Fianna Fail party, said the package would have two elements. The first would be a deep restructuring of the Irish banks. “Irish banks will become significantly smaller than they were in the past”, he said.

The second part of the “strong policy program” would be increased taxes and reduced spending to reduce government borrowing by €15 billion over the next four years.



Reacting to the announcement, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the government has no mandate to do what it is doing. “It has handed over authority for the state to outsiders in order to get a digout for the banks, which the Irish people will have to pay for.

“The government should resign so that citizens can have their say in a general election.”

Sinn Fein TD (member of Ireland's parliament) Aengus O Snodaigh said on November 21 that the government should throw the IMF out of the country.

O Snodaigh said Irish sovereignty was not something that Fianna Fail and the Green Party [coalition government] could “sell off to the highest bidder”.

“They have absolutely no mandate for any of what they are doing and they are acting against the wishes of the people.

“This government has brought the country to the brink of economic collapse and now they want to sell of our hard-won sovereignty to the IMF.

“The history of the IMF in other countries is one of privatisation of vital public services and mass unemployment. But there is another way. It’s time to burn the bondholders and nationalise the Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank.

“The government should throw the IMF out of the country before resigning and calling a general election. Irish sovereignty is not something that Fianna Fail and the Green Party can sell off to the highest bidder.”
Independent TDs joined with the opposition parties to pile pressure on the crumbling Dublin government to pull the plug after the Green Party on November 23 finally succumbed to public outrage and said would pull out of the coalition.

The Greens have called for an election by the end of January, but the opposition parties and the public are clamouring for Cowen’s renegade regime to quit as soon as possible.

At a press conference on November 23, Green Party leader John Gormley defended his party’s decision to stay in government with Fianna Fail until after the budget on December 7, insisting it was in the national interest to ensure it was passed.

“We have always said that our involvement in government would only continue as long as it was for the benefit of the Irish people.

“Leaving the country without a government while these matters are unresolved would be very damaging and would breach our duty of care.” He added that the Irish people need political stability over the coming months.

But Sinn Fein parliamentary leader Caoimhghin O Caolain accused the Greens of "cutting and running" while denying the people an immediate general election.

“It is absolutely shameful that this party is denying the people an immediate general election and helping Fianna Fail to inflict further massive damage on the Irish economy and Irish society”, O Caolain said.

“The Green Party has played a disgraceful role in one of the worst cabinets that has ever governed in any country.

“We now have the unprecedented situation where a coalition partner has announced it is to pull out of a government while at the same time preparing to help frame and vote for its budget.”
[Abridged from Irish Republican News.]