Call for national protest at payment of $1bn Anglo bond

For the past 34 weeks, people in the north Cork village of Ballyhea have met up every Sunday and walked the length of the village in quiet protest at the decision to hold the Irish taxpayer liable for monstrous bank debts. Diarmuid O’Flynn is one of those who has marched in Ballyhea every Sunday for the past 34 weeks. He is now calling for people all over the country to down tools at noon next Tuesday (1 November) in protest at the $1bn unsecured, unguaranteed Anglo bond due to be paid the following day. Below, he explains why.

On 2 November 2011, next Wednesday, a $1,000,000,000 bond comes due at Anglo Irish Bank. This bond is unsecured, unguaranteed, a bond we have absolutely no obligation to pay, from a bank described by Minister Michael Noonan in an RTÉ interview only last June in the following terms:

“Look, it's no longer a bank. Anglo is now merged with Irish Nationwide. It's a warehouse for impaired assets. Its deposit base has been moved out into the pillar banks. And it doesn't work as a bank anymore. You can't put your money on deposit in Anglo Irish. You can't get a loan from Anglo Irish. So the only thing that gives it the name of a bank is because it has a banking license. It needs the banking license to access the monies from the Central Bank. So I said that as far as I am concerned, this is not a real bank. This is a warehouse, and we need your assistance in dealing with the senior bond holders because we don't think the Irish taxpayer should have to redeem what has become speculative investment.”  (Thanks to the Namawinelake blog - the most reliable source of otherwise hidden information - for this quote.)

On 1 November, 2011, next Tuesday, at 12 noon, I am asking for a nationwide protest against the payment of this bond. 34 weeks we’ve been marching in Ballyhea and now in Charleville against the payment of these bonds, bonds that come due on an almost weekly basis; 34 weeks in which we’ve been almost on our own in protest against this massive injustice being visited on the Irish people. This one time, at noon on this one day and for just half an hour of your time, can you join us? Wherever you are, at work or at play, can you just stop, down tools, get together with your workmates, your family, your friends, your fellow parishioners, and protest this new order, where bondholders are bailed out while people are burned?

It used to be that at noon the bells tolled throughout this land and called people to prayer, to reflection; those days are gone, long gone. This once, however, can we again come together at that hour, and reflect; reflect on what’s being done in our name, reflect on whether or not it’s right that the institutions whose billions fuelled the fire that engulfed our economy should themselves escape even being scorched; reflect on whether or not it was right that we should have been saddled with this debt without even a hint of consultation, a debt that will be passed on to our children, and perhaps to their children; reflect on whether we belong in a community where, far from everyone looking out for each other, the strongest – the Germans and the French – are forcing billions from us, among the smallest and the weakest, to bail out the German and French banks who recklessly lent those billions to our banks.

Most of all, we should reflect on this: already we’ve poured billions into the various Irish banks, but next year (2012) another €20bn falls due in bank bonds, in 2013 it’s €17bn, in 2014 it’s €25bn – where do you think that money will come from? From the banks themselves? No, my friends: over the next three years our six banks will be back to us again cap-in-hand, the ECB at their shoulder, guns-to-our-heads, and this government will pour yet more billions in to those banks, billions our ‘friends’ in the ECB will willingly lend to us, so all those major financial institutions get their money – “Every last cent,” according to our own government.

Next Tuesday, stand with us, a nation united, a united nation, and let Europe know, let Leinster House know – we’ve had enough of this outrage, we’ve had enough of this national humiliation, we’ve had enough of being told first, what bad people we were to squander all that money when the reality was that it was our banks and the banks from which they borrowed who were the reckless ones, and now, what good people we are to ‘honour’ all those bank bonds.

1 November, Tuesday, noon, let the bells again toll and let us again commune, but this time let them toll time on those bank bondholders. Gather, protest, take a stand. All this is happening to us ONLY because we’re allowing it to happen. Enough.