Campaigners call for halt to Anglo Irish Bank payments

A new campaigning network has today launched in Ireland calling on the Irish government to stop paying the debts of the former Anglo Irish Bank / Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS).

A new network, Debt Justice Action, argues that the debts of this now state-owned institution are not the responsibility of ordinary people in Ireland. They say a halt in payments – the next one of which is due to take place on 25 January – must be the first step towards a more general renegotiation and write debt of the country’s unsustainable and unjust debt.

Anglo Irish collapsed due to its high exposure to Ireland’s property boom. The Irish Government initially paid €4 billion to prop up Anglo in 2009 and later guaranteed its debts. The government is currently obliged to pay down €30.6 billion worth of promissory notes over the next 20 years. In 2012, Anglo Irish will be paying back €6.3 billion to its creditors – of which €2.6 billion is unsecured.

The campaigners say that the suspension of Anglo payments would not spread contagion through the European financial system as most of the Anglo debt is owed to central banks and Anglo is an isolated problem from the so-called ‘pillar’ Irish banks.

Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of the UNITE trade union, said:
“This debt can be written off. All that is needed is the political will to make it happen. That depends on our government negotiating proactively and responsibly on behalf of its people. This action would draw a line in the sand against reckless lending practices, save billions of euro belonging to people in Ireland, and have no negative repercussions for ordinary people in Ireland or elsewhere. Our demand is feasible and winnable”.

Nessa Ní Chasaide of global justice organisation Debt and Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI) said:
“The unanimous message of campaigners in Africa, Asia and Latin America is that ruining whole societies to repay illegitimate debts is wrong and unworkable – a solution must be based on cancellation of illegitimate debts that ensure lenders are held accountable for their mistakes, rather than sacrificing people’s rights to fear of financial markets”. 

Nick Dearden of Jubilee Debt Campaign (UK) said: 
“It is unjust to make Ireland’s people – especially the poorest in that country – pay for the crimes of speculators and the banking elite. The austerity being visited on the Irish people is deeply unjust. Across Europe and the world, the only way to build a sustainable and just economy is large-scale debt cancellation and a crack down on speculation. Campaigns for debt audits are springing up across Europe to call for this.” 

Debt Justice Action is launching its campaign today (Wed 18th) at 11am at the Central Hotel, Exchequer St, Dublin and will hold a public meeting at 7pm in the Teachers Club Parnell Square Dublin on Tuesday 24th January. The campaign is calling on people around Ireland to make their voices heard in support of the campaign.

— ENDS

For more information contact:

– Andy Storey, Chairperson Afri: + 353 87 6543872
– Nessa Ni Chasaide, Coordinator, Debt and Development Coalition Ireland, + 353 1 6174835 / +353 87 7507001
– Nick Dearden, Jubilee Debt Campaign UK, +44 (0)7932 335464 / +44 (0)20 7324 4722

Notes to the Editor

Debt Justice Action is a campaigning alliance against debt injustice that will work together during 2012. The group is comprised of non-party political justice organisations from a range of sectors including trade unions, community, faith-based, global justice, research and academic groups.

The campaign opposes the payments of the €1.25 billion on an unsecured Anglo bond on 25th January and the €3.1 billion IOU (or promissory note) to be paid by the government on March 31st. The €3.1 billion payment will be due each year up until 2023 with further IOU payments due beyond this date.

The Anglo repayments will have reached €47 billion by 2031, the equivalent of 30% of Ireland’s current GDP or €26,000 for each working person in Ireland. However, as Ireland will have to borrow more to make the payments, this debt could rise to €85-€90 billion. The campaigners highlight that the €3.1 billion payments due to be made by the state on behalf of Anglo in March 2012 would fund the cost of running Ireland’s entire primary school system or could fund the putting in place of a next generation broadband network for all of Ireland.

The campaign is calling on the government to open negotiations with the Irish and European Central Banks, who bear co-responsibility with the Irish government and the Anglo bankers for the creation of the unjust Anglo debt. The campaign proposes that all payments to Anglo creditors should be suspended pending negotiations until a write down of the debt is agreed.

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