Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/647/10627
Ireland: 'Not simply a crisis but an absolute disaster'
THE ECONOMY in the Irish Republic is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and the government may be forced to go, cap in hand, to the European Union to obtain a bailout.
The Irish Independent reported that finance minister Brian Lenihan asked if money from the EU's emergency fund could go directly to Ireland's failed banks rather than the government in order to avoid political embarrassment and to save face.
Irish Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins remarked at the recent Socialism 2010 event in London that the economic situation in the Irish Republic "is not simply a crisis but an absolute disaster".
The country is braced for a third austerity budget on 7 December as the government attempts once again to prop up the failed banking system as the expense of workers' living standards.
"We will not pay this bill. The Irish working class didn't create this crisis, we won't pay a cent to the dictatorship of finance capital," said Joe.
At the end of October the Irish banks were carrying €130 billion of debt and foreign investors are pulling their money out. Last week the Bank of Ireland reported that it had lost €10 billion in corporate deposits.
The Irish economy is in a deep recession which, according to the Financial Times, is "so severe that more than one-third of all men under 24 are unemployed". Overall unemployment officially stands at 13% of the working population and the economy has contracted by 14% since the onset of the crisis.
The financial meltdown in capitalism is not restricted to Ireland. A number of other countries in the Eurozone too are facing bankruptcy, including Portugal and Spain; while Greece, whose Pasok government accepted a massive EU bailout after pushing through a severe austerity budget earlier this year, remains in 'critical care'.
The economic crisis is giving rise to a new political crisis in Ireland. The governing coalition of Fianna Fáil and the Greens are expected to be annihilated at the next general election, the date of which could be announced very soon.
However, the Labour Party also accepts the dictats of capitalism. "We need a workers' alternative", said Joe. The Socialist Party will contest a number of seats in the next election as part of a wider united left alliance. For more on this see Ireland: United Left Alliance to challenge at next general election
In The Socialist 17 November 2010:
Socialist Party youth and students
War and occupation
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review