Article by Luke Ming Flanagan


By Luke Ming Flanagan

Immediately after the Greek election results, when the proposal by Syriza of a Debt Conference to reduce the debts of EVERY country in the EU became a real possibility, which government was first out of the box to say ‘NEIN!’? Was it Germany, which itself benefited from massive debt write-down in a similar Debt Conference in London, back in 1953? No, it was our own little Enda, though quite possibly he was doing so at Germany’s bidding – he’s good at that.

It’s disgraceful, it reallys. There are times when, as an Irish person, you must despair at the antics and actions of this government, but this is surely a new low. A debt conference is EXACTLY what Ireland and the rest of Europe could do with right now, a negotiated reduction of the massive debt burden and a chance to grow our way out of this recession. But, because it might make them look bad – having agreed every step of the way on the austerity measures dictated by the Troika – Enda and this government came screaming out of the blocks with their ‘NO! We can’t have that! We were good little boys and girls, we danced to the tune that was played for us, we want our lollipop!’

This week in Brussels we even had one of our own at it. Labour TD Dominic Hannigan was here for a couple of days to mark what’s called Parliamentary Week, got a chance to have his say in the big house, the European Parliament chamber. ‘No special deal for Greece!’ he cried, to loud ‘hear hear’ from the hawks of the Commission, the Council and the ECB. If he had gone on to state that there should be a ‘special deal’ for all of us, fine, but no; what the bould Dominic was saying was that Greece and the Greeks should just suck it up, continue to suffer – like we do – under the austerity measures being imposed on them.

It’s enough to make you cringe.

Then yesterday we had the ECB rowing in with their tuppence worth. Cast your mind back a few years, to the threatening letters from Trichet to Brian Lenihan; that was kept under wraps for a while but after the contents were revealed and there was no real repercussion, the ECB now feel bold enough to utter their threats up front, out in the open. So Greece now is subjected to the same blackmail attempts as Ireland was subjected to before the Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2010.

It’s wrong, completely wrong. Far from holding our noses and turning our backs on the Greeks, we should be aligning ourselves completely with them, and with the Spanish Podemos, and with all the other people’s parties across Europe who are saying ‘Enough!’

Four years ago Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan, Eamon Gilmore and the rest were elected with a far bigger mandate than Syriza have now in Greece. Think what they could have done for Ireland, think what they could have done for Europe if they had stood strong then. Four years of austerity, four years of bank debt piled on sovereign debt, four years after which when even the ECB itself, by finally accepting that they must engage in Quantitative Easing (too little, too late), has now accepted that they got it all wrong.

The Ballyhea Says No campaign group are coming up on four years of continuous weekly protest, on Sunday March 1st. This Sunday though they’re calling for solidarity with Greece and with what Syriza are doing. If you have nothing else to do, you could join them – Ballyhea, 10.30am.