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Address by H.E. Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament (Continued)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 777 No. 2

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  12 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly] The Government is paying it but it does not want to do so. The reason it is paying it is because it is afraid of what the European Central Bank and the European Commission would do to Ireland in retaliation for not covering the losses of professional investors. I have heard Mr. Schulz agree this is not sensible. The counterargument goes that the €64 billion came in and saved the Irish banking system. As Mr. Schulz knows, half of this money went to a bank which no longer exists and which is under criminal investigation for what it was doing. The other half of the money went to banks which still exist but which are increasing charges and mortgage rates and are, in essence, sucking the rest of the money out of the Irish economy. The money from the troika achieved only one benefit, which was to avoid contagion to the European banking system.

Mr. Schulz recently stated the Irish people need to have some cause for hope for the future. This hope is not in a deal on the €64 billion or in its restructuring, it is in a return of the €64 billion. If this happens we can, as a modern, sophisticated high-tech export-oriented economy, contribute to the recovery of Europe. I thank Mr. Schulz for his support and I hope he will be able to bring this simple message back: Ireland did not get a bailout-----

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Hear, hear.

Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly -----and Ireland is not looking for aid or benevolence. We need our money back in order that we can contribute to the recovery of Europe.

Hear, hear.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins There will be much pomp, ceremony and chatter to accompany the Irish Government assuming the Presidency of the European Union in 2013. However, there will be no change in the disastrous and destructive austerity policy being ruthlessly imposed on the Irish and European working class, middle and low income workers, the unemployed, pensioners, the poor and the young. As President of the European Parliament, Herr Schulz is effectively in a power-sharing arrangement between social democrat and Christian democrat political parties. Throughout Europe it is these parties, just like the Irish Government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party, which carry out the economic diktats of the financial markets which dictate policies that have left 25 million EU citizens unemployed and threaten to turn the weaker capitalist economies, the so-called peripheral states, back to Third World conditions.

  We have the tragic irony that as the EU establishment boasts of being the most generous donor to the poorest countries on earth, features of this poverty, such as homelessness and even malnutrition, are reappearing in Greece, which is a member state of the European Union, as a result of austerity. These policies are being driven by the markets which dictate that the profits of speculators, bondholders and bankers take precedence over hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens. Today we have heard fine words about democracy, but we live in an economic dictatorship of the financial markets. The troika and the political parties of social democracy and Christian democracy are agents of these financiers and speculators dictating that the people of Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and others should have transferred onto their shoulders the debts of the global bankers and have their economic lifeblood drained to rescue the diseased system that is casino capitalism.

  Have the political parties in Europe noted reports in the world financial press that while 25 million languish in unemployment, European big business corporations sit on €2 trillion of retained profits which they refuse to invest to create productive employment, not being confident of sufficient profit? Have they noted a report in The Guardian on research by the Tax Justice Network which shows that €16 trillion belonging to the global elite sits in offshore accounts, channelled there by the ten biggest international banks, including the vampire squid Goldman Sachs, for the benefit of this elite only? It is beyond time that a full frontal assault was made on this nauseating inequality and that we have not a puny transaction tax but a massive supertax on this wealth in order that it is channelled into job creation, major public infrastructure programmes which would create millions of jobs, research, the transformation of services such as health and education, and ending the draconian brutality and injustice of austerity.

  The injustice that saddles the Irish people with the bad gambling debts of Irish bankers and developers and bankers in France, Britain and Germany is taking billions from the pockets of ordinary people here and, in the process, is wrecking the domestic economy with catastrophic results for jobs and services. Since the EU political establishment is the agent of the markets and austerity, ordinary people can only rely on their own power, and this is what our great historic Irish socialists, James Connolly and Jim Larkin, would say, as would the great German socialists, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. The year 2013 will mark not only the Presidency by Ireland of the European Union but also the 100th anniversary of the great lockout when the Dublin working-class rose up in an historic and Herculean struggle against the employers, who were the elite of those days, to demand justice and a decent life.

  When the political establishment which represents European capitalism descends on Ireland next year, as they will many times, they should be met with widespread mobilisation by the economic victims of the austerity they impose. Working class people will demand that the bailout of the bankers and speculators and crippling austerity are halted, and we will join with the millions of workers in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Germany where it is not commonly known that millions of workers languish in very low waged situations, to demand a different Europe not of the markets but of the people, a new genuinely democratic socialist Europe where we can end the obscenities of mass youth unemployment to which Mr. Schulz alluded and create a new and decent life for all European citizens.

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Lucinda Creighton): Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton I am pleased to join my colleagues in the Houses of Parliament to welcome Mr. Schulz. This is a great opportunity to celebrate once again our strong and deepening relationship with the European Parliament, which we consider to be vital. When the Government came into office last year, one of the first things we did was to hold in this Chamber for the first time a joint sitting of the Irish MEPs and Members of the Dáil and Seanad.

Today’s proceedings mark the first address to Dáil Éireann by a President of the European Parliament and this is very important in the context of our relationship with that body. It is fitting that Mr. Schulz is with us, not only because Ireland will assume the role of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in a few short months, but also because it represents a unique opportunity for the President of the European Parliament to address the representatives of the Irish people and, in turn, hear their views, as Mr. Schulz has been doing. This is particularly important at a time of significant challenge - as has been stated by every speaker - as we confront and overcome the difficulties imposed by the impact of the crisis in the eurozone, including continuing to meet exacting targets in successfully implementing an extremely challenging programme of economic reform.

As a passionate believer in the European project and the immense value of the European Parliament, I intend to focus my remarks on its role, which has been, and rightly so, considerably enhanced in recent years. The European Parliament is rightly proud of its status as the only directly elected EU institution. It is on the front line of democracy as a place where we debate the impact of policies on our day to day lives.


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