Anglo: Not Our Debt
I have written more than once on the subject of Anglo Irish Bank and the ongoing repayments to holders of Anglo bonds, both secured and unsecured, and of the crippling situation we find ourselves in because of these private debts that have been socialized onto the public purse. It should come as no surprise to you therefore that I found myself yesterday morning in the audience at a press conference announcing the launch of a new coalition-based campaign calling for the Government to cease paying these bondholders and the associated Anglo promissory notes immediately.
The launch of the 'Anglo: Not Our Debt' campaign
Central Hotel, Dublin, Wednesday 18th January
Organised under the banner of the Debt Justice Action coalition, the 'Anglo: Not Our Debt' campaign (or #NotOurDebt with the obligatory hashtag) brings together academic, political, economic, development and religious groups from across civil society all calling on the Government to suspend Anglo-related payments immediately, beginning with the €1.25 Billion payment to unsecured Anglo bondholders on January 25th (less than a week away). This payment, which we are under no legal obligation to make, is almost exactly equal to the cuts of €475m to Social Protection, €543m in Health and €52.9m in Overseas Aid, and "savings" of €132.3m in Education announced by the Government over the course of two budget days back in December. #NotOurDebt is not calling for the Government to default, rather they are calling for a suspension of payments to bring the ECB back to the negotiating table with a view to adjusting the principle of the debt, and the repayment schedule.
The #NotOurDebt campaign argues that a) the Anglo payments, and in particular the nearly €50 Billion in Promissory notes, are not part of the EU/IMF memorandum, so non-payment will not affect our wider bailout or relationship with the Troika, b) Anglo is not a pillar bank, and it is highly unlikely that suspension of payments would lead the ECB to retaliate by punishing our pillar banks as this would lead to the same sort of contagion they have been fighting to prevent since this crisis began, and c) with our Government bonds already rated as 'junk', it is hard to see how the markets could have any less confidence in us than they do already, suspension of payments realistically could not make the environment any worse for external investment than it already is.
There were a good few familiar faces there, with John Bisset from the Spectacle of Defiance and Hope speaking at the launch, and both UNITE's Michael Taft and TASC's Tom McDonnell doing a lot of the number crunching for the campaign. Mrs Browne's Boys (Harry and Vincent, sadly no relation to each other but its still worth trying to coin a phrase) were also there in the audience, and #VinB had both John and Michael on his show last night to discuss the Anglo fiasco.
There will be a public meeting of the #NotOurDebt campaign next Tuesday 24th in the Teachers' Club, Parnell Square in Dublin, at 7pm, the night before the next Anglo payout. This falls nicely in the middle of three days of planned defiance around the bond payment, which sees a broad alliance of groups come together for joint actions, as well as autonomously-planned events.
The country sat by last November and quietly watched the government hand over €720 million to holders of five-year Anglo Irish Bank bonds. Next week's payment will be almost double that. We cannot afford another week of silence.
You can find out more about the #NotOurDebt campaign here, read their full statement from the launch here, and watch #VinB's show from last night here.