Campaigners say promissory deal is a 'stitch up' and a lost opportunity

Above: Hoarding around the unfinished Anglo HQ in the Dublin docklands

The Anglo: Not Our Debt Campaign has described the deal on the deferral of the €3.1 billion promissory note payment due tomorrow as a “political stroke” that does not address the real issue and that squanders an opportunity to write down an illegitimate debt.

Speaking at a press conference today, campaign spokeswoman Nessa Ní Chasaide said that the Government “was borrowing from an ill-defined Peter to pay a Paul that has no right to be paid in the first place – one form of illegitimate debt is being replaced by another.  Rather than refuse the socialisation of massive private bank losses, this 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.” After the press conference, the campaigners handed in a petition with almost 7,000 signatures at the Department of Finance calling on the debt to be written down rather than deferred.

Community activist Cathleen O’Neill, speaking at the handover of the petition, claimed that the fundamental issue was not being addressed: “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.”

Andy Storey, chairperson of NGO Action from Ireland (Afri), pointed out that had the government simply cancelled the payment due tomorrow then this would not have been a sovereign default but that cancelling the new sovereign bond that is being issued would constitute such a default: “We have been boxed into a corner here, this is a stitch up, making it harder for us to write down this illegitimate debt in the future, whereas this is something we could and should have done right now.”

UCD lecturer Marie Moran highlighted what she saw as another alarming aspect of the deal: “The promissory note payment would not have gone to anyone, it would have been removed from circulation, so cancelling it would not have hurt anyone – but the new debt we are taking on will be owed to somebody or other, we are not even sure who yet, so cancelling it in the future will be more difficult; far from solving the problem, we are digging ourselves into a hole here.”

Ní Chasaide noted that there was also no clarity on what would happen with the payments scheduled for beyond 2012: “We need a just and long-term solution, not a political stroke based on short-term expediency. It is unfathomable that the Irish Government legitimises this debt whilst Anglo is under criminal investigation for what may be the largest fraud in the history of the state.”

Said economist and campaign member Tom McDonnell, “It looks like panic. It looks like the need to do something before the deadline, which is tomorrow. What I suspect is actually happening is that they couldn’t agree a deal, certainly there is no deal with the ECB here, and that they’re still hoping that over the course of the next 12 months a new grand deal will be done. There’s no engagement here with the ECB, [the ECB] are not giving up anything. That would be a very key point to make, and this can’t be spun as a win.” {jathumbnailoff}

Tom McDonnell Anglo Promissory Deal by donal higgins

Image top: Eadaoin O'Sullivan.