The government of the Republic of Ireland are facing a public campaign against their plans to restructure the country’s “zombie bank” debt. The group Debt Justice Action described the plans as “totally inadequate”.
The Irish government were due to pay a €3 billion 'promissory note' yesterday (30 March) as part of a payback of the state-underwritten debts of Anglo-Irish Bank. It has come up with a plan to defer that payment through restructuring the debt.
But campaigners have claimed this is merely a "political stroke" which fails to wipe out the debts of the zombie banks.
Debt Justice Action spokeswoman Nessa Ní Chasaide accused the Irish government of “borrowing from an ill-defined Peter to pay a Paul that has no right to be paid in the first place”.
She said that “one form of illegitimate debt is being replaced by another”.
The group say that the move will see the state, and ultimately the people in Ireland, assume full sovereign responsibility for €30,000,000,000 of debts run up by private speculators.
Community activist Cathleen O'Neill, speaking at the handover of the petition, claimed that the fundamental issue was not being addressed.
She said, "We, ordinary people living in Ireland, did nothing to run up this debt in the first place - it is not our debt, and we should not be paying it, nor should our children be paying it next year or whenever the can is being kicked down the road to.”
The €3.1 billion payment that was due to be made by the state on behalf of Anglo now appears scheduled for repayment either in 2013 or in 2025, although the situation appears very unclear.
Debt Justice Action point out that this would fund the cost of running Ireland’s entire primary school system for a year.
The campaign attracted support from the Jubilee Debt Campaign in the UK. Their Director, Nick Dearden, described it as “totally unjust”. He said that Ireland people, including some of the poorest in that country, are being made to pay for the crimes of “speculators and the banking elite.”
The Jubilee Debt Campaign repeated their call for large-scale debt cancellation and a crack-down on speculation. They said that this is “the only way to build a sustainable and just economy” across Europe and the world.