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No respite

• The Government's insistence that the decision to significantly cut the respite care grant was necessary and unavoidable rings hollow when you consider that it has, in the same Budget, forked out a colossal €59.2m to the horse and greyhound racing sector.

The Fine Gael-Labour Coalition must have a political death wish if it persists in this worse-than-Scrooge behaviour, ravaging the lives of the most vulnerable people on this island while pouring precious funds into gambling-relating industries that deserve not one cent of taxpayers' money.

Even Scrooge didn't go as far as these Merchants of Misery. He was just miserly and anti-social. Our Government, by contrast, has seemingly gone out of its way to exacerbate the ordeal of respite care recipients and their carers, as if they didn't face enough challenges.

These politicians should go down in history for having managed to reverse the Robin Hood principle: They have taken from those most in need and redistributed financial resources to the bloodstock industry!

Does gambling on horses and greyhounds rate higher with them than people whose lives depend so profoundly on the support and loving care of their fellow human beings?

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny

• In the past few days, Minister Pat Rabbitte said: "We didn't pay the promissory note this year and as far as I'm concerned we're not going to pay it next year. It's as simple as that."

It is entirely untrue that the promissory note was not paid this year. The promissory note was paid in full. The Government borrowed €3.06bn from NAMA. Following this, NAMA passed this debt to Bank of Ireland (BoI), so now, instead of owing €3.06bn as a promissory note, which might easily be written off, the State owes the same amount to BoI, where it is much less likely to be written off.

Here is the Department of Finance confirmation of this fact: "The April SPU Exchequer deficit estimate of €18.7bn included, as part of non-voted capital expenditure, a €3.06bn payment in respect of the IBRC promissory note. However, this €3.06bn payment was settled with a government bond and the transaction is not included in Note 6 of the end-October Exchequer Statement (non-voted capital expenditure) due to the statutory payments basis of the Finance Accounts (with which the Exchequer Statement aligns) and the exceptional nature of the transaction in that regard. Therefore it is not accounted for as part of the Exchequer deficit in 2012 as the 2011 payment in respect of the IBRC promissory note was last year." (Medium-Term Fiscal Statement – November 2012 – Incorporating the Department of Finance's Autumn, Forecasts, Page 10, footnote #1)

Here it is again on page 32 as a footnote to Table 4.1: "The 2012 IBRC promissory note payment was settled with a government bond and as such is not reflected as part of the Exchequer deficit (or EBR) in the end-October 2012 Exchequer returns. For simplicity, however, it is counted as part of the 2012 EBR in table 4.1."

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And finally on Table 2 of Page 89, it is listed as a payment under point (b): "Non-cash payment in 2012 of IBRC promissory note."

The Government did not raise €3.06bn this year against the promissory note through taxes, cuts or market borrowings, but this does not change the undeniable fact that the promissory note was paid with a NAMA loan.

If the promissory note had not been paid as scheduled, the Irish Central Bank would have been obliged to withdraw IBRC's access to Exceptional Liquidity Assistance (ELA) as the promissory notes would no longer have been acceptable as collateral – and it is this ELA funding which constitutes the billions in loans that is keeping the IBRC alive.

Without access to this ELA, the IBRC will cease to exist. That this didn't happen is proof that the promissory note was paid this year.

The media plays a vital role in society by bringing powerful interest groups to account. It is startling that this Government has been allowed to consistently make this claim without contradiction.

At the very least, can the people of Ireland expect our own media to publicly clarify this point with the Government?

Ken Rogan
Irishtown, Dublin
Marie Moran
School of Social justice, UCD
Nessa Ni Chasaide
Debt and Development Coalition Ireland
Andy Storey
School of Politics and International Relations, UCD
Niamh McCrea
Institute of Technology, Carlow


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