Thursday, November 06, 2014

Ireland Protests Shake Government


Government in disarray as senior Ministers issue contradictory statements:

Parliament session suspended as Deputies
defy Chair rulings:

Trichet Eurobank threat letter exposes 
Brussels Dictatorship treachery:

Arrests and pepper spray as hostile crowd blocks Taoiseach’s ( Prime Minister’s) car:

Protesters blockade Police Station 
in North Dublin:

Irish Senate votes for referendum on 
Water privatisation:

The Government’s response yesterday to the massive weekend protests against the hated Water-tax all across the country was weak, waffling and contradictory as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and Tánaiste (Deputy Premier) Joan Burton made contradictory statements on the issue and other senior Ministers saw fit to give their own views to media outlets in newspapers and TV. Ms Burton, Leader of the Labour Party in the current coalition, made a statement on Tuesday stating her view that the proposed water-tax on a family of four including two adult children would be less than €200 even though no figures have been released by any authority confirming this. Mr Kenny in his statement in Dáil Éireann yesterday declared that this was Ms Burton’s personal opinion and no final Government decision had been made. 
Today, Ms Burton claimed that Mr Kenny and herself were in full agreement on the issues involved in the determination of water charges for householders. The public, however are entirely fed up with the ducking and weaving by Government on these matters and have gone beyond using their calculators to try and make sense of it and the unstoppable demand, as shown by last weekend’s demos, is now ABOLITION and nothing less. The sooner the Government takes the wax out of its ears and listens to the people, the sooner the problems of public water infrastructure can be tackled without the imposition of household charges which was a non-starter from the beginning of this soggy saga of incompetence mixed with arrogance and cooked up behind closed doors in a cynical disregard for democracy and people’s rights.

Mr Kenny’s evasive replies to opposition questions from Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, and Fianna Fáil leader, Mícheál Martin, were condemned by both but, Mr Kenny would only promise that a Government decision would emerge in two weeks. Since only two questions were taken by An Taoiseach before he departed, Independent deputies objected that they were not being allowed to engage in debate on the government position and when the Chair refused to allow further debate, several Independent deputies rose to dispute this ruling and were suspended from the House. When it became clear that the Independents would not accept their exclusion, the Chair suspended the entire sitting for the day depriving the public of a proper debate on these urgent matters which has the country in political turmoil.

Across the corridors in the Senate Chamber, the Irish Senate, Seanad Éireann, an Opposition motion calling for a referendum to ensure permanent public ownership of domestic water supplies was carried with the support of all the Labour Party Senators from the Government side. Given that the Minister for Environment, Alan Kelly, who is also Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, was addressing the Seanad at the time this could only have happened with the prior approval of the Labour leadership, signifying deep divisions within the government on the Water-tax issue.

Later in the afternoon when Mr Kenny travelled to a North Dublin suburb for a ceremonial opening of a sports clinic, he was confronted by a hostile crowd of anti-Water Tax protesters who prevented his car from leaving the venue. Scuffles broke out between protesters and the large number of police present and three people were arrested and detained. Several women alleged that police used pepper spray on them but the Irish police, An Garda Síochána, have not issued any statement so far either to confirm or deny these allegations. The same evening, several hundred residents blockaded the road outside the Garda station where the arrested protesters were being held and a tense stand-off ensued. This disturbing event, with Police adopting a partisan and aggressive approach where protests, which until now have been generally peaceful, could react differently and lead to serious disorder at future demonstrations. 

Crowds gather at Garda Station where Water Tax protesters have been detained.

The Government announced, three weeks ago, the State Budget for 2015, the first budget since 2008 that was supposed to offer some relief for taxpayers after seven years of cruel, anti-social, IMF/Brussels austerity; the so-called “bail-out” in which IMF/ European Central Bank loans to buy off bondholders in the Anglo-Irish Bank and others were to be paid back by cutting public expenditure on health, education, welfare and public investment in infrastructure and increasing income tax with additional “charges” such as Universal Social Charge and Property Tax which, as far as workers on the pay-as-you-earn system are concerned is just more income tax as these additional charges must be paid from wages which have also seen substantial rate cuts over the last six years.

The tax “reliefs” promised in the State Budget, of course, would not become effective until April 2015 while “charges” would be collected from January 1 and the so-called “reliefs” benefited the better off in any case.  While the Government fiddled with accounting procedures to give the appearance of “relief”, Rome was already burning with the explosion of massive protest and outright revolt against the proposed Water Tax on public water supply to householders and their families.

The budget architecture which included the collection of €150M in household water charges is now in a shambles and they are hinting at a 50% reduction in the original amounts and a postponement of payments until February, 2015. The excuse for the original level of charges was that the new Water utility, Uisce Éireann, would need a “revenue stream” in order to be able to borrow funds which would be “off balance sheet” and not added to State debt. This is nonsense, of course, as would have a “revenue stream” from Industrial, Service and Agricultural users without any need for domestic user charges. They also transferred €7BN to the new Strategic Investment Bank for providing credit to new enterprises and at least €1BN of this could have been used to provide an immediate capital base for . The whole thing was a political con-trick which has now blown up in their faces.

The Trichet Letter:

The European Central Bank (ECB) has finally published the letters received by the previous Irish Government in 2010 at the height of the financial crisis claiming that it was Ireland which asked for a bailout to keep banking liquidity in the country where the Government had already guaranteed bank deposits of up to €100,000.

However, the text of the final letter of November 19, 2010, from Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the ECB at the time, contains an explicit threat to withdraw ECB funding if the Irish Government did not immediately sign a written agreement requesting a bailout. This illegal and bullying demand shows the glaring Dictatorship which the unelected officials of the EU Bureaucracy have been running since the establishment of the EU and particularly since the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty which was rejected by the Irish people in a referendum in 2008 but a second referendum in 2009 reversed the vote, which many voters consider was rigged (see previous posts).

The EU was supposed to be a union of sovereign states each of equal status, but the Trichet Letters show that this is a sham and Ireland was forced to pay the debts of reckless lending by German and French banks to Irish borrowers with taxpayers money and impose a vicious austerity regime on the Irish people for the past six years.

The ECB current spin on these events tries to avoid its responsibility at the time not only to consider the position of the Irish Government as an equal member of the EU but, the delinquency of the German and French Banks who contributed to the crisis by their reckless lending policies.

The text of the letters can be accessed here:

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