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Policies of Lisbon Treaty helped create economic recession – Ó Caoláin

6 April, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said it should not be forgotten that Fine Gael and Labour are the parties that colluded with Fianna Fáil and the Greens in refusing to accept the verdict of the people in the first Lisbon referendum.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said the regressive policies contained in the Lisbon Treaty helped to cause the economic recession.

He said:

“Let it not be forgotten Fine Gael and Labour are the parties that colluded with Fianna Fáil and the Greens in refusing to accept the verdict of the people in the first Lisbon referendum. They joined with the EU institutions in brow-beating the Irish people in a second referendum.

“The regressive policies that underpinned Lisbon helped to cause the economic recession. Those same policies are dictating that the Irish people are to be punished for the greed and recklessness of bankers and financiers – many of them in France and Germany.” ENDS

Full text of Deputy Ó Caoláin’s speech follows:

Statements on Banking 6.4.11
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Sinn Féin.

On April Fool’s Day 2011 people in this country woke up to the reality that a the new Fine Gael/Labour Coalition Government, a Government elected on the basis that they promised real change, had just pledged to pour another €24 billion of our money down the banking black hole.

Many people no doubt had the feeling that they were taken for fools when they voted for Fine Gael and Labour in the belief that things were indeed going to be different. They believed that the blanket bank guarantee was going to be set aside. They believed that senior bond-holders were going to be made to share the burden. Many believed that it was going to be Labour’s way not Frankfurt’s way. Some may even have believed that Finance Minister Noonan, the bruiser from Limerick, was going to stand up for the people’s interest and fight Ireland’s corner with conviction and determination at EU level.

The promises of our winter of discontent have now melted like snow on a ditch. The parties that roared like lions during the General Election campaign are now bleating like sheep.

But this is hardly surprising. For years the leaderships of Fine Gael and Labour have been the most submissive voices in this country when it comes to everything that emanates from the European Commission and from the EU elite in their drive towards a super-state.

In every referendum they parroted the words dictated to them from Brussels and Strasbourg. They poured scorn on those of us who warned against the selling out of our sovereignty. They branded us as narrow nationalists, anti-Europeans, extremists and economic illiterates.

But now it turns out that our warnings were not half harsh enough. This State has been delivered, bound hand and foot, to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. We are to be bled dry to pay back the monstrous debts incurred by insolvent banks. We are to be sacrificed in the hope of saving the Euro. I say ‘the hope’ because there is no guarantee that the Euro will be saved or that the end of this economic crisis will not be the collapse of the Euro.

Let it not be forgotten Fine Gael and Labour are the parties that colluded with Fianna Fáil and the Greens in refusing to accept the verdict of the people in the Lisbon 1 referendum. They joined with the EU institutions in brow-beating the Irish people in a second referendum. We in Sinn Féin stand by what we said then about Lisbon 2, and I want to read it into the record:

The cause of this recession is the drive to deregulate, privatise and cut direct taxation, that have been the hallmarks of governments in this country and across the world in the last number of decades. They created an economy that was deeply unequal and incredibly vulnerable. Now that the bubble has burst the consequences of these inequalities and vulnerabilities are there for all to see. These right-wing policies have been exposed and totally discredited.

The fact is that the Lisbon Treaty was drafted by the same politicians who led the European economy into recession. It contains many of the right-wing economic policies that have caused the recession and that continue to prevent member state governments from responding effectively to the recession. It is the Treaty of Bertie Ahern and Charlie McCreevey, of Silvio Berlusconi, Jose Manuel Barroso and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Since 2004 the European Commission, under the stewardship of Portuguese conservative Jose Manuel Barosso, and ably supported by the European Court of Justice, has introduced proposal after proposal undermining sustainable economic growth, public services and workers’ rights.

The Commission’s singular focus on economic competitiveness has weakened the ability of member states to strategically intervene in the economy to promote economic growth, protect jobs, enhance environmental sustainability and provide universal public services.

Directive after directive has promoted the deregulation of markets in goods and services while other measures such as the rules on state aid and the Growth and Stability Pact have limited the scope for state intervention to strengthen the economy.

This is what Sinn Féin said in our Alternative Guide to Lisbon 2. The regressive policies that underpinned Lisbon helped to cause the economic recession. Those same policies are dictating that the Irish people are to be punished for the greed and recklessness of bankers and financiers – many of them in France and Germany.

The situation in Ireland today is akin to what we endured under landlord rule and the British regime in Dublin Castle. At that time the mass of the Irish people endured a bare subsistence in order to support a landlord class, many of them absentees. A huge proportion of the wealth of Ireland left the country in the form of rents. The ultimate result of was mass starvation, eviction and emigration. Many of the hundreds of thousands who were forced to emigrate from our shores sent home money to help their relatives back in Ireland to pay rent and to survive in their own land.

The right of private capitalist property was accounted more precious than the right to life. The situation today is not as extreme but the scenario is very similar. The so-called right of investors in corrupt banks counts for more than the livelihoods of the Irish people. Irish workers will be labouring for decades to pay the cost of a debt that they had no part in incurring.

People will be impoverished for years to come so that gamblers in the financial markets do not have to pay the price of their speculation. Once again our children are being sent into exile. Once again many of them will be sending home remittances to help support families and communities in this country who have been beggared by bad Government and voracious financial interests.

All of this has come about because of the catastrophic failures of the Government of the past decade and because of the so-called solutions they concocted with their banking policy. They arrived at the site of a fire in the form of the State’s debt crisis and they trained their hoses on it but what emerged was not water but petrol. Petrol in the form of the bank guarantee has been poured on the flames and the conflagration threatens to consume what is left of the Irish economy.

Incredibly, earlier in this debate, former Finance Minister, Deputy Brian Lenihan, stated:

“To be constantly demanding the dishonour of debt, as some Deputies do, is not good for this country, does not help its interest and is a form of economic treason.”

This is absolutely breathtaking coming from the former Minister who brought in the IMF and the ECB, who repeatedly poured good money after bad into the banks, and who for years had faithfully supported the Governments which created the crisis in the first place.

According to former Minister Lenihan we are guilty of economic treason because we demand that the whole burden of debt is not borne by the Irish people, that our children and our children’s children’s are not left with the toxic legacy of Fianna Fáil and their friends the bankers and developers and international financial speculators.

Is it also economic treason to demand the restoration of the minimum wage? Is it economic treason to demand that people have decent wages and conditions? Is it economic treason to say that the government should have a leading role in the economy, should not be forced to privatise key economic assets? There are many international investors who dislike these things as much as they dislike calls for the sharing of the debt burden or the burning of senior bond-holders which is the same thing.

I think the Irish people knew very well who was guilty of economic treason in this country and they threw them out of office in the General Election – Fianna Fáil and their Green Party mudguard. Former Minister Lenihan should know that very well as he is the last man standing for Fianna Fáil in Dublin.

The question now is how far the new Fine Gael/Labour Government is going to continue along the path of economic treason laid by Fianna Fáil. They are well on their way already. The course they have set is bound to fail. This debt is unsustainable. Their so-called banking solution is no solution at all. They still have time to alter their course and I urge them to do so.

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