Sunday, 28 October 2012

One would be forgiven for thinking that the current situation Ireland finds herself in is unprecedented, that the Great Robbery she is currently experiencing, the Irish people being forced to pay debts which are NOT THEIRS, is an entirely new phenomenon. It’s not.
Irish history is littered with traitors and betrayals. If we look at what has been, more oft than not, a disgusting creature, (honourable exceptions of course) the Irish politician, three great betrayals of the Irish people stand out. The first was passing the Act of Union in the Irish House of Commons on 1st August 1800. The second was voting to accept the Anglo Irish Treaty on 7 January 1922. The third was the Bank Guarantee of September 30th 2008.

Just prior to the 1798 rebellion Irish public debt stood somewhere in the region of £4,000,000. However by the act of Union in 1801 that debt stood at £26,841,219, nearly seven times as much as it was just three or four years before.
All of the expenses that Britain incurred over those three or four years, the huge sums it cost to maintain a vast army in Ireland to crush the rebellion, the money needed to bribe juries, to pay and give pensions to spies and informants, the money needed to influence members of the Irish House of Commons to pass the act of the Union – all these and more were charged to the Irish account.

The Irish were made to pay for the privileges of those terrible years, to pay for the slaughter and destruction. Today we pay for, and suffer because of, the reckless actions of banks, domestic and foreign, and for the reckless gambling bondholders engaged in. We also pay to bail out the developers and golden circles. We give massive pensions, and through NAMA, wages to those who brought us to this terrible position, the politicians and their developer friends. Both then and now the ordinary Irish people were made to pay, and suffer, to preserve the comfortable position of native and foreign elites.
Following the act of Union the “books” of Ireland and England were to be kept separate under the following terms;

I. Ireland would have no liability for British National debt incurred prior to the Union.
II. The separate debt of each country being first provided for by a separate charge, Ireland was then to contribute two-seventeenths towards the joint or common expenditure of the United Kingdom for twenty years.

III. Ireland’s taxation would not be raised to the (higher) standard of Britain until the following conditions should occur:

1. That the two debts should come to bear to each other the proportion of fifteen parts for Great Britain to two parts for Ireland ; and
2. That the respective circumstances of the two countries should admit of uniform taxation.

These conditions were protested against by opponents of the Union, particularly with regards to the ratio the debts would have to be to one another to warrant an amalgamation of the debt and an increase of the tax in Ireland to Britain’s higher levels. (England’s debt would have to amount to seven and a half times that of Ireland)

“The monstrous absurdity you would force down our throats is, that Ireland's increase of poverty, as shown by her increase of debt, and England's increase of wealth, as shown by diminution of debt, are to bring them to an equality of condition, so as to be able to bear an equality of taxation." – Foster, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, 1800.
They also protested at the fact that the Irish would have to pay two seventeenths of the common expenditure of the UK, as this was obviously far too high an amount which simply could not be paid.

 At the act of Union Imperial spending was approx £25,000,000. By 1813 it was over £72,000,000.
Britain racked up huge amounts of debt financing her wars against France and funding France’s enemies – much of this debt was hoisted upon impoverished Irish shoulders.  During this period Ireland’s debt increased more than twice as fast as that of England.

The dramatic increase in “Irish debt” can clearly be seen in the following table:
By 1817 the charge on Ireland’s debt was the same as its total debt before the rebellion of 1798.
Fosters “monstrous absurdity” proved worse than he had feared, as both debts increased. Ireland’s debt in 1794 had been only a sixteenth of the amount England owed. Now England owed three and a half times the amount that Ireland “owed”. This was over the seven and a half time limit in the Act of Union; this allowed the two “national” debts to be combined and the Irish rate of tax to be increased even further to match that of Britain.
Thus Ireland was loaded with debt which was not her own in order to allow increased taxes for the Irish, and to bring about the combination of the British and “Irish” debts in order to force the Irish to contribute towards Britain’s pre union debt as well as that incurred since.
After being loaded with this massive unsustainable foreign debt Ireland was ‘heroically’ bailed out by the British by way of an act consolidating the British and Irish exchequers – at the time some Irish politicians spoke, as they do today, of the debt on Irish books as “Irish debt” - while it was anything but - and British politicians spoke of the Act consolidating the Exchequers as being a massively generous move by them to rescue the Irish.
In this way the Irish were made pay the debts of elites. Domestic and foreign. To pay for their own subjugation and suffering. Sound familiar?
This was the First Great Robbery. The Second Great Robbery, which we are living through now, is an even more daring, devious, underhanded and villainous one then that of the early nineteenth century. We are allowing history to repeat itself. Then, as now, Irish sovereignty rests not with the Irish people but with parasitic elites, domestic and foreign.
The national debt has increased to astronomical levels, (it stood at over 169 Billion Euro at the end of 2011). Debt as a proportion of GDP rose from 25% in 2007 to 106% per cent in 2011. The rate of interest we pay on the debt is many times the growth rate of the economy. In other words we cannot grow our way out. It is impossible for things to continue as they are. There will be some form of write down, there has to be. Those who hold Ireland’s sovereignty will write off the absolute minimum they have to, leaving Ireland with a somewhat smaller debt, but still an extortionately high one. Otherwise they may get nothing paid back. The FG/Labour government, and media, will herald this news. The fact that NONE of the debt incurred bailing out the banks and paying off bondholders should be paid - as it is not our debt - will be swept under the rug as the establishment pats itself on the back.
As if only having to pay most of someone else’s debt is to be applauded.
As Irish people we need to do more to stop this massive injustice.
Fool me once...
Historical Sources:
'Eighty Five Years of Irish History', 1800-1855 - Daunt, William J. O'Neill
'The Financial Grievences of Ireland' - Daunt, William J. O'Neill
'The History of Ireland' - John Mitchel
Posted by Saoirse Go Deo On Sunday, October 28, 2012 No comments


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    This is my personal blog and all herein is merely personal opinion expressed solely on my own behalf from my viewpoint as an Irish Socialist Republican.

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