Funding is only a problem if you accept the bankers’ agenda. Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Fein, The Greens and the discredited Fianna Fail party all accept the notion that banks generate wealth and so ordinary people in Ireland should bear the cost of saving them.

The ULA rejects this nonsense. The banking sector has not generated wealth it has created a national debt bigger than the nation’s GDP. It is Irish workers who create wealth and we continue to generate more than is spent on wages, public services and welfare. Far from being unable to afford to keep our present level of services we create enough wealth each year to increase provision to include the items called for in the
ULA programme. In 2010 alone public spending could have been increased by some €55 billion without creating a deficit if we had not thrown wealth into the failed banks.

It is the other parties who need to come clean about their plans. They will try to convince you that if we all take a little bit more pain and take good care of “Irish” banks we will soon return to the glory days of the Celtic Tiger. Not much comfort to the hundreds of thousands who never experienced any of the benefits of sustained growth but it is far worse than that.

In 2010 almost €5 billion was paid by the state in interest alone. This is roughly 10% of tax revenue and with
unemployment increasing and more money thrown at the banks this percentage will only rise. This is just
interest, without actually reducing the debt. A cap of €9 billion has been set on the education budget until 2014.

You are being asked to value the failed banks at more than half the total education budget indefinitely. Ask yourself – and ask other candidates – how long would it take you to get back on your feet if you owed 100% of your annual wage, had to pay it back at more than 10% of your take-home pay and were still
running up further debt ?

Those that accept that the banks must be saved are condemning Irish workers to a return to the poverty of
the past. We will have a third world health service, a third world education service and our children and our
grand-children will still be in hock to the banks.

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What a scam from AVIVA!!!

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Welcome

AVIVA is one of Anglo-Irish Bank’s senior bondholders. AVIVA is also a huge multinational insurance and financial corporation based in the United States. It is the sixth largest insurance business in the world, paying massive profit dividends to their shareholders. In the recent past, it has moved 200 jobs from Ireland, outsourcing them to India.

ALL of the senior bondholders of Anglo-Irish Bank, including AVIVA, have been bailed out by the government and will be paid in full for their losses. To do this, the government is using our taxpayers’ monies, our National Pension Reserve Fund, and the monies we have borrowed at very high rates of interest from the ECB and the IMF. This is our children’s future being given to this multinational corporation to repay it for having gambled on the stock price of Anglo-Irish Bank.

When the government funding for rebuilding Lansdowne Road Stadium ran short, AVIVA stepped in to top up the final bill, but in a public bid that auctioned off the rights to Lansdowne as a national resource. Lansdowne was renamed AVIVA Stadium. It has not been renamed Irish taxpayers and AVIVA Stadium.

When VHI announced the other week that it was putting up premiums drastically, AVIVA spokespeople gave a number of interviews tut-tutting the lack of responsibility of VHI in so doing and advertising AVIVA’s wares. AVIVA said it had no plans to raise premiums. Over 30,000 people switched to AVIVA. Now AVIVA has announced substantial price rises in its premiums.

Health is a core social need for all households in this country. Our front-line health services are toppling over into chaos and rates of severe morbidity and early mortality are rising. Our children deserve a far better and more secure future with good health services. They will NEVER have this if we have to pay AVIVA and the other senior bondholders.

The crisis in the Irish economy comes down to one thing – Do we need the banks ?
Confusion and Cowardice in the Dail

Fine Gael, Labour and The Greens slavishly follow the Capitalist mantra that the deficit must be tackled and that means cuts. Their nauseating and pathetic claims that they have no power to oppose the Finance Bill is simple proof that they offer no alternative to FF.

Sinn Fein have broken ranks and advocate ignoring debt to the IMF and EU bailout fund. This is to be welcomed. The IMF is the bailiff of the capitalist world; it’s history is one of backing repressive regimes while demanding that they become even more repressive and their populations even poorer in order to ensure IMF loans are repaid.

Sinn Fein’s late conversion does not bear much scrutiny however. It is not an anti-capitalist policy. Consistent with SF’s entire history it is a policy for saving the Irish Capitalist system. It is an opportunistic appeal to the tricolour and when pressed for figures Gerry Adams has no real understanding beyond trying to make savings within the current framework; precisely the same strategy as all the other parties. There is a muddled suggestion of partial nationalisation of banks and creative accounting to mask the deficit. It is quite absurd to threaten to defy the IMF and then expect to be able to enter the bond market (selling shares in the Irish Government) as a normal player in the global capitalist system.
Adams’ remarks have invited ridicule from other parties; claims that he doesn’t understand economics, that he’s a deficit denyer, that SF would destroy the Irish economy. These people have no better understanding themselves.

Why this crisis has happened

The essential narrative that Irish people are being given by all the main parties is that suddenly, as if by natural disaster, Ireland can no longer afford to pay for decent wages, health care or education. There is an estimated government deficit of 17 billion Euros for 2011 and we have to accept cuts. It is this simplistic, accountant’s view of the problem that deserves ridicule.

In both 2009 and 2010, well into the crisis, GDP per capita (wealth created per head of population) in Ireland was higher than in both Germany and France, the economic powerhouses of the EU. It is nonsense to suggest that Ireand is suddenly less productive.

The deficits for 2010 and 2011 combined amount to roughly 35 billion Euros. Even the initial bank bailout package announced by Lenihan in March 2010 of 73 billion Euros dwarfs this figure. Countless more billions have disappeared into the banks since and still more is promised. The deficit has been caused by the bank bailouts, not by ordinary Irish people wanting a decent house, decent clothes, a decent car and a decent holiday.

Unfit to govern

The politicians denounce any talk of an alternative to austerity as dangerous, reckless or risking the national interest. Irish banks currently owe roughly 183 billion Euros, national debt has reached 100% of GDP (we owe every cent we generate) and this week we learn that the Irish Central Bank has been printing money to give to the banks. It is the Irish Capitalist class and their lackeys in the Dail who are practicing Mickey Mouse economics. They even kept the cost of NAMA, another 54 billion, off the books to make things seem better.

Can we nationalise the banks ?

These gangsters have created the crisis and Socialists call for the nationalisation of all the banks and a reversal of the cuts. Is this actually feasible ? Would it bring chaos with the economy grinding to a halt and public sector workers not getting paid. Do we need the banks ?

Not only have these self-important, self-proclaimed economic experts that mis-run the country failed to avoid crisis, they fail to understand a very fundamental concept; banks do not create wealth.

Our children are taught at school that generating profits means the same thing as generating wealth. Even to the high and mighty in the Dail, profit and wealth are understood to be the same and they believed that for 20 years the boom in the Irish economy could be equated with banks making obscene profits.
Banks do not create wealth

Before it was closed last year the Waterford Crystal factory generated wealth. We know that because if you have a piece of their glass and decide that you no longer want it you can swap it, via money, for something that everyone agrees represents wealth; food, clothing or fuel for instance. Now imagine an entrepreneur who knows that bus loads of tourists used to arrive at the visitor centre and buy crystal. They buy crystal in bulk, at a discount, from the new shop in Waterford and sell it from a stall in O’Connell st. They make a profit but generate no wealth. How do we know ? Because if I have a piece, it doesn’t matter whether I got it from the shop or from the stall I will get the same for it if I sell it. Generating profit does not imply generating wealth. Now imagine a bank lending 10,000 Euros to the entrepreneur to get a shop started. At the end of two years the bank gets it’s 10,000 back plus an extra thousand in interest. The bank has made a profit. The profit is real but it’s not new wealth. It is a share of the profit that the entrepreneur would have made. Their profit was not new wealth, the wealth was generated in the factory.

Wealth is created by workers, not entrepreneurs

The source of wealth in Ireland is the Irish Working class. The men and women at Waterford Crystal were wealth generators and this source of wealth has now been closed. The people who allowed that also want us to pour wealth into the black hole of the banking system. Banks do not generate wealth, they suck in wealth from the real economy. In 2010, without a bank bailout, public spending on health, education, welfare and jobs could have been increased by some 65 billion Euros without creating a deficit.

Calling for the nationalisation of the banks isn’t reckless or a recipe for chaos. It is the only measure that will stop the haemorrhage of our wealth and continued crisis. Irish workers continue to generate more wealth than is actually spent on wages and public services. The issue is where that wealth goes, who controls it and for whose benefit.

A Socialist Alternative

The United Left Alliance, in calling for an end to the parasitical theft of Ireland’s wealth by Irish bankers, makes the first step in a Socialist programme to transfer control of wealth to those who create it.

People Before Profit New Ross

Posted: January 14, 2011 in Welcome

A meeting of People Before Profit will be held in the Workman’s Club, Mary St, New Ross, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday 19th January. PBPA General Election candidate for Wexford, Seamus O Brien, will be a guest speaker.

The official launch of Seamus O Brien’s General Election campaign will take place in Wexford on Friday 21st January at 8 p.m. in Wexford town, in Wexford Arts Centre. Guests speakers will include Joe Higgins MEP, Cllr. Richard Boyd Barrett, and Seamus himself.

All are welcome to attend.

‘One law for the rich and another for the poor’, is an old saying, frequently used and undoubtedly true. Until RTE’s Prime Time investigations aired ‘carry on regardless’, a look at the lives of developers, never before had our public service broadcasting truly reflected this. For the sake of fair and accurate reporting, RTE stressed they were not suggesting developers had done anything ‘fraudulent’. Close to one million viewed the programme, the facts, though, spoke for themselves.

NAMA, as Brian Lenihan stressed, is not a bailout. According to him they would chase developers to the end of the earth.We remember a time before CAB (criminal assets bureau); criminals could flaunt their wealth unanswered. One would expect, if Lenihan was sincere, similar legislation to remove assets from developers. However, anything transferred to spouses prior to 2009, appears out of the reach of NAMA. They expect developers to voluntarily hand over assets in good faith.

There is a legal principle used in Irish law: assets that are disposed of in a bid to defraud, or prejudice the rights of a creditor are voidable. Variations of the principle to ward against fraudulent preference are used in family, divorce, land and bankruptcy cases.

To date NAMA hasn’t initiated a single case on transfers to spouses.

Most of the property transfers shown on the Prime Time programme, occurred in a nine month period just before the establishment of our toxic loan agency. The legendary cupid must have been in town. The evidence to back the one law for rich theory keeps building. We just have to look at the lifestyles these developers are still accustomed to.

Gerry Gannon of Gannon homes still lives in a gated mansion with his wife, where they enjoy the views of the Howth peninsula. Most people struggle to get through the cost of Christmas. Not Gerry Gannon, footage showed him laden down with shopping bags from exclusive Brown Thomas. Possibly buying to add to the gifts he already gave his wife.

His love of wife Margaret already saw Gerry transfer 29 properties in her name. Margaret Gannon now owns 74 hectares in Loughlynn Co Roscommon, a house on St Fintans road in Howth, 52 acres of land on Carrickbrack road in Howth, apartments and houses in Portmarnarck, Malahide, Cabinteely, Tempelogue, Artane and Clontarf.

Gerry Gannon, who owes one billion to the banks, also gave Margaret the deeds of a Victorian house in plush Dublin 4. NAMA is about to sign off on a prepared business plan by Gerry for the future.

The chief executive of NAMA Brendan McDonagh claims they will pursue developers for full amounts. With this in mind we look at some of the other top ten developers who between them owe 17 billion. Unlike Gerry Gannon who had no comment, Cork man Michael O’Flynn is not media shy. Michael, who also owes one billion, believes he hasn’t done anything wrong.

Developer Michael of O’Flynn construction built Ireland’s tallest building The Elysian. Not just famous for this, Michael O’Flynn is a well renowned horse owner. This year alone his success in racing saw him earn close to €100,000. He provided no personal guarantees on his loans; therefore NAMA does not have access to any of his earnings.

O’Flynn was shown flying to the races in a 3.5 million Augusta corporate helicopter.

Frank Daly on chair of NAMA wanted to know why some where swanning around in helicopters and Bentley cars.

So too do we, it’s a lifestyle most of us could only dream of. Another horse owner, who annually sponsors a race meeting at Fairyhouse, is Seamus Ross. Chief of Menolly Homes. Seamus transferred to his wife Moira a one million Georgian property on Harrington St, and two commercial properties in Lucan and Lower Rathmines road.

As well as receiving land in Drumlish Co Longford, Moira, with her husband, legally took a loan out in UK Barclays Bank to the value of €5.1 million. As this loan is out of reach of NAMA with Barclays out of its control, the Ross couple bought a 5,700 sq ft luxury villa in the gated community of Las Parcelas de Golf in Nueva Andalucia Spain.

We can’t forget to mention the developers who fled Ireland. They didn’t emigrate like the thousands with no money who can’t get work. Tycoon Derek Quinlan who owes €600 million now lives in Switzerland. As Quinlan tries to sell some assets to repay debt, he avoids the capital gains tax of 25% he would have to pay in Ireland.

The most brazen of all is Sean Dunne and his wife Gayle Killilea, now residents of the US. They pay $17,500 rent a month, while waiting for $1.5 million of renovations to be complete on a new home Gayle bought for $2 million. Formerly known as the Baron of Ballsbridge, Sean denies any ownership of new home in Greenwich, Connecticut.

His lawyers have previously threatened legal action against papers over the matter.

Gayle has refused to answer questions about where she got the cash for such a lavish property. She stated that her place of residence and finances are not legitimate matters of public interest.

In the Defamation Act 2009 the following is covered under a defense of public interest: the management of publicly funded companies or institutions. NAMA is a publicly funded institution by us the Irish taxpayers. Gayle’s husband along with the named developers, not forgetting to mention a few more Joe O Reilly, Johnny Ronan, Richard Barrett, Bernard McNamara, fall into public interest under NAMA. Revelations of their lifestyles in the media recently is justified.

For ‘public interest’ we must balance the ‘one law for rich’ theory and take a quick look at the law for the poor. The less you owe the more they chase you, is a fair comment.

Especially when you look at stories of ordinary people jailed for small fines.

In Ashbourne Co Meath a jobless dad was sent to jail over a litter fine. Guilty of not been able to afford to pay. Christy Rooney went onto Joe Duffy’s liveline radio show.

He told the show that his 12 year old son stuffed a plastic bag into a pile of cardboard.

It was clear on cctv that the child left the bag behind, unknown to Mr Rooney. The dad went to Meath council to point out it had been innocent actions of his son, and he was unable to pay on his income. Mr Rooney said they would not listen and brought me to court.

In Navan court he was fined €300 and ordered to pay €1,062 in costs by two months.

When the two months expired, he was taken to Wheatfield prison. Relatives of Mr Rooney came up with the money to get him released. Christy Rooney was treated unfairly, and both the courts and Meath council knew he hadn’t the means to pay.

The figures of people jailed for non payment of fines has doubled from 2008 to 2009.

Evidence of the rising poverty, in 2008 the figure was 2,250; by 2009 it jumped to 4,806.

A TV licence is €160; it costs €2000 a week to put them in jail.

It’s hard to disconnect a fact the less you owe the more they chase you, from the more you owe the more you get from taxpayer. Derek Quinlan, who fled to Switzerland, has been employed by the state to collect overdue fines imposed by the courts. This ‘tycoon’ whose debts are part of NAMA is now director of Tazbell, the company that received the contract from the Dept of Justice.

Another company Treasure Holdings behind the National Convention Centre, receives payments of €2.5 million a month in rent from us. Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett of Treasure Holdings also own the building NAMA pays rent to. In total state leases they will receive €50 million a year. Gerry Gannon has lucrative storage deal with art museum; he will gain €20 million by 2030.

While more people join the unemployment register, five million a year in rent is paid to developers for the use of their premises for social welfare offices. Bernard McNamara’s wife will get €100 million off the state from the lease for the social welfare office in Bishops Square.

Were paying for the mess they got us into. How much more are we willing to pay to fund their lifestyles?

We need to rise up against this madness.

Another Crisis Year Ahead for HSE

Posted: January 2, 2011 in Welcome

HSE Service Plan

(Ian McDonnell)

The HSE recently released its 2011 service plan, which outlines how the health service will be re-configured so as to cut €1.4 billion from the total budget by 2014. Under the motto ”more for less” the government plan to cut the amount of skilled nurses through a cap on recruitment while both increasing the workload of remaining staff & transferring additional duties to social care volunteers. The plan aims to save €242 million in pay related expenditure by the end of 2011 through the removal of 2,250 staff & proposes a further reduction of 6,000 staff by 2014. Ireland already suffers a relative shortage of skilled physicians, with the number standing at 2.8 per 1000 people as against the OECD average of 3.8 per 1,000. The Irish health system also suffers a shortage of acute care beds, with only 2.7 beds per 1,000 people compared to the OECD average of 3.8 per 1,000.

Patient fees will also be increased under the new plan, hospital service charges which already cost an average of €75 per day will be increased by 3%.Meanwhile, student nurses are being subjected to vicious attacks as the gov plans to abolish their pay entirely by 2015. Currently fourth year student nurses are entitled to 80% of a qualified nurse’s salary. The governments plan will (by 2015) have nurses in their final year work intensive full time shifts for 36 weeks of the year with no payment whatsoever. The gov plan to reduce salaries gradually from 60% in 2012 to 50% in 2013 to 40% in 2014 to 0% by 2015. Meanwhile, the CEO of the HSE Cathal Magee receives €350,000 per year in addition to a car allowance of €20,000.

Liam Doran of the INMO hinted at industrial action, claiming that the proposed cuts may ”subject to the agreement of the student body, involve the disruption to clinical placements”. The INMO plan to hold meetings on the issue through the new year, HSE staff should attend these meetings & argue for industrial action. A further €3.7 billion was awarded to AIB over the Christmas holiday & Fianna fail are determined to make ordinary people foot the bill. Unionized workers in particular have the potential to turn back the tide provided they mobilize & put pressure upon the conservative union leadership to engage in action.

A new scheme to conscript 5,000 unemployed people to undertake community service will be rolled out from January 2011.
This will be the first of the new ‘labour activation’ measures being promoted by the IMF. ‘Labour activation’ is business peak for forcing people off benefit and making them do poorly paid work.
People selected for the new ‘Tus’ programme will receive only €20 extra for working a 19 and a half hour week. They will have to continue working for at least a year or face the prospect of being cut off the dole.
No real training will be provided and the scheme is specifically designed to intimidate people.
The official Tus factsheet states that ‘it will contribute to the management of the live register and act as a deterrent to those not eligible for welfare benefits’
When the scheme was first mooted, government spin doctors stated that it would be voluntary.
But now Tus factsheet poses the question: ‘Will it be obligatory to participate if offered an opportunity? ‘ and answers it by stating that ‘Yes, it is obligatory to respond to the offer to participate made by the Department of Social Protection as all recipients of Job Seekers support must engage with the National Employment Action Plan.’
In their recent country report on Ireland, the IMF acknowledged that the rate of unemployment would remain at a high 13 percent until at least 2015.
The government has no intention of creating real jobs. So its only answer is intimidation to encourage people to leave the country.
The move also represents a deliberate downgrading of the community sector. During the boom years, real jobs were created in under-resourced working class areas.
But like much else, the government is now slashing community services and replacing them with poorly trained conscripts from the labour exchange.

Brian Lenihan has chosen the Xmas holiday to put another €3.7 billion into AIB. That is the equivalent to the total amount that used to be raised in the annual budgets of the state before the current plunge into austerity.
The day before Lenihan’s statement, the Department of Health announced that there would be a 2 percent reduction in hospital admissions next year. The sick will just have to wait longer because the state is looking after bankers.
For the past two years, Irish economic policy has been guided by a small coterie of right wing economic experts. They have provided the technical justifications for using public resources to salvage the fortunes of the rich.
They repeatedly claimed, for example, that bailing out Anglo-Irish was necessary to save both AIB and Bank of Ireland which were deemed to be of ‘systemic importance’. The worst option of all, they claimed, was nationalisation.
Here for example is one of those experts, Alan Ahearne, a lecturer in NUIG who became a special advisor to Brian Cowen.
In April 2009, he wrote an article in Irish Times, attacking the idea of nationalisation. He claimed that
‘Nationalisation is often viewed from wholesale markets as a sign that the banking systems have completely failed. That’s a message the Government would not want to give out,”
The alternative to nationalisation, according to Ahearne, was NAMA and the injection of billions into the banks. (The AIB had already received €3.5 billion before the most recent Xmas present.)
But now after all these past hand-outs, we still get nationalisation –plus more hand-outs!
Sometimes the word nationalisation is associated with the Left. But, Socialist Worker has consistently argued against the nationalisation of debt to save the fortunes of foreign and native bondholders.
We wanted AIB to be declared bankrupt so that its debts would also be written off. We argued for a good state banking system which would arise if the government passed an emergency law to transfer bank property and bank assets into public ownership- AFTER the private debts had been repudiated.
The AIB’s Xmas present also raises questions about the fate of one Eugene Sheehy, the former CEO of AIB. He once told the Irish public that AIB would have ‘no need for state assistance’.
At one time, in 2007, Sheehy was being paid a salary package of €2.1 million a year. This obscene salary was necessary, we were told, to recruit the ‘best and the brightest’.
Today Eugene Sheehy has retired on a pension of €526,000 a year which happens to be the equivalent of fifteen times the average wage.
But, ironies of ironies, he will be gaining an extra €16,000 a year as a result of tax changes in the most recent budget.
If you are sick of this class privilege and want to bring real change, then get active with the socialists in the coming year.

Vote for a Real Alternative

Posted: December 20, 2010 in Welcome

The Wexford Constituency has a real opportunity to elect a real alternative into Dail Eireann at the next General Election, in Seamus O’ Brien, the candidate for the People Before Profit/United Left Alliance.

Seamus has been a leading campaigner to save the 24 hour Accident and Emergency service at Wexford General Hospital, where he is a SIPTU Shop Steward.

If elected to Dail Eireann, Seamus will represent working class people, the unemployed, students, pensioners, those with disabilities, and will refuse to do any deals with Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

Seamus has also committed himself to accepting only the average industrial wage if elected and has pledged not to go on any junkets.

Seamus will fight continuously for the services at Wexford General Hospital, and also demand that an Acute Psychiatric Admissions Unit be built at Wexford General Hospital, following the announcement that St. Senan’s is to close.

Seamus will encourage local communities to stand together against Water Charges when they are introduced and will oppose these charges through a massive anti-Water Charges campaign through out County Wexford and linked in to a national campaign.

You can read more on the policies of the People Before Profit/United Left Alliance in other articles on this web page or at http://www.peoplebeforeprofit.ie and http://www.unitedleftalliance.org