independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

The patronising of 'Plucky' Paddy

Monday

A day in the City of London can sometimes make my blood run green.

While today the Brits are obsessed with the detail of David Cameron's posturing over Europe their attitude to Ireland's plight is pig ignorant. I am patronised all day by congratulations from bigwigs in the City about how well "you plucky Irish" are doing in our fight to survive.

Ireland is taking its medicine manfully is the condescending message from the smug British establishment. They are big fans of the "Teashock" and his austerity package.

You bet they are. Kenny and his crew would do well to be wary of overseas plaudits. No one in Europe gives a hoot that our growth figures are faltering, or that the biggest growth areas are unemployment, emigration and misery. They love to see a passive neighbour "taking its medicine".

Our reputation abroad is rocketing. We are uniquely popular, everyone's favourite patsy. Europeans simply stand and stare, in awe at a government prepared to lie down in front of them and give a good kicking to its people.

Tuesday

The conspiracy of good news spinning from government agencies is over. It has flopped.

The Central Bank pricks the bubble when it ups the ante on mortgage arrears. Its quarterly report today at last exposes our bankers' and politicians' denial of the crisis that dare not speak its name.

The mortgage monster is mushrooming. Even the Central Bank is now publicly alarmed at the danger. After lowering its growth forecast from 1.7 per cent to 1.3 per cent for this year, the old Lady of Dame Street warns that bankers and government are acting like ostriches, depending on an upturn in the property market.

What a policy! Last September 113,000 mortgages were in arrears with €24.7bn owed to banks. No one is doing much about it. The monster will guzzle us up if we do not tackle it quickly.

The Central Bank is flagging that we are hurtling into a second banking crisis. Its words of warning will not be welcomed by the ostriches.

I missed the Technical Group's weekly morning meeting. Absentees are penalised, relegated to the back of the queue for speaking time. I fear I might lose my slot in the debate on garda cuts and station closures. But our massive protest planned for Stepaside on Sunday is going gangbusters.

I seek out the group's protest expert, Richard Boyd Barrett, who offers priceless inside advice on how I can organise my first demo.

Richard should set up an academy in Protest Studies. Or even a lucrative consultancy. He could call it 'Protest Before Profit'. He has stumbled into a real growth area for the Left to mine.

Wednesday

Lunch in Leinster House with Eugene McErlean, the man who did the State some service when he lifted the lid on Allied Irish Banks.

Eugene, the bank's former internal auditor, was victimised for his integrity. We discuss the suspiciously tortuous path of the Whistleblower Bill, now bogged down in drafting. We wonder have the dark hands of the bankers and the Department of Finance once again forced a delay in an urgent piece of legislation.

I have a Whistleblowers Bill ready to go. There is a three-hour slot available within a few days but I decide to give the draftsman a last chance to deliver their own Bill. Instead, I compose a motion on the Anglo promissory notes due for a full debate on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Sparks should fly.

The Irish dilemma on the Anglo notes is now an embarrassment, the self-inflicted pickle of a coalition in retreat: the Government is beginning to sound desperate. It has over-egged the promissory note pudding.

A deal will be done, but it looks like being a feeble, face- saving package. Instead of burdening our children with debt, we will force our grandchildren to share the punishment with them.

God forgive the Government if it agrees to this and then spins it as a triumph. Instead, in the Dail this week 15 united independents will demand a declaration that we cannot – and will not – pay the €3.1bn due on March 31.

In the debate we will seek a negotiated write-down of the debt including a fair sharing of the burden across the eurozone.

Is there an earthly chance of our Government having the bottle even to ask our European masters for such modest concessions? No wonder they love us so much in London, Paris and Frankfurt.

Thursday

TDs Stephen Donnelly, Joan Collins and I rush down with our solicitor Tony Williams to the Four Courts for the judgement in citizen David Hall's case. We are supporting David's claim that the payment of the original Anglo promissory notes is unconstitutional.

Judgement is given by Justice Nicholas Kearns. I remember playing poker with Kearns years ago. An exceptionally gentle guy, he was a brutal card player.

Kearns causes convulsions when he rules against Hall on the grounds that David does not have the standing to take the case.

The plaintiff should be a TD, according to Kearns, because citizen David's case is based on the Government's failure to submit the Anglo note payment to the Dail. It appears that an ordinary citizen does not have the same rights as a TD.

We are shell-shocked.

Ouch! It may soon be decision time for us TDS. Will we take over the case from David Hall? Perhaps nice Justice Kearns has remembered our card-playing encounter and has called our bluff? We shall decide after the appeal, hopefully for hearing this week.

Straight from the High Court to Balally, Dundrum, where president Michael D Higgins opens a new pastoral centre. Michael D is a saint compared with the knaves and villains lurking around the Four Courts and the banks. The pastoral centre is a haven of tranquillity compared with Leinster Madhouse.

Friday

Preparations for Sunday's Stepaside protest rally escalate. News breaks that a postmistress and husband have been held hostage in their home in Cavan. Cuts in garda resources attract further criticism.

A formal afternoon meeting between the troika and a few independent TDs. Luke Flanagan forces them to admit that, contrary to government claims, the garda cutbacks are not dictated by them but chosen by the Cabinet.

The delegate from the European Commission lets the cat out of the bag: "We are used to this [being blamed by governments]. We have to take it."

More ominously, it is crystal clear that they are pushing for more repossessions and that they are unhappy with our bankers' behaviour.

Even more ominously, they look like a group of people with no intention of leaving in a hurry.

Irish Independent

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