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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 January 2014

This "Ireland is a success story" rhetoric is based on spin

Paul Murphy, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) Member of the European Parliament

The entire 'success story' rhetoric of the Irish government, the European Commission and their hangers-on when promoting Ireland's bailout exit is based on empty spin, hyperbole and untruths.

It is a story with a purpose - a pat on the back for the Irish government, and a useful stick for the Commission to beat the peoples of southern Europe.

The inconvenient facts illustrating that the bailout has been a success only for the rich are innumerable.

They include the increase in profits by 21% since 2007, the payment of €26 billion to bondholders this year by bailed-out banks and the state.

Meanwhile Ireland has the highest net emigration rate in all of the EU, with youth unemployment at nearly 30% and an unsustainable debt to GDP ratio of 125%.

The repeated references to the return of 'economic sovereignty' of Ireland are particularly galling. This is a self-serving lie designed to allow government parties Fine Gael and Labour to present themselves as our saviours for the five months until the next elections.

In December the official role of the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) in Irish economic planning ended.

But the Troika is not going anywhere. The visits of the men in suits passing homeless people in the streets while dictating increased austerity will continue for years to come.

The IMF will have a process called 'Post-Programme Monitoring', involving two reports a year, until nearly all of the debt to the IMF is repaid.

Institutionalised austerity

The Irish state is also now subject to a huge number of undemocratic new EU economic rules. These institutionalise the imposition of austerity, through the transfer of significant powers from elected governments to the unelected European Commission.

They mean that the state can be subject to a fine of hundreds of millions of euros if it fails to follow 'recommendations' from the European Commission to impose yet more cuts and extra taxes.

They mean budgetary plans have to be presented in advance to the European Commission and Council for recommendations before any discussion in the Dáil (parliament).

The power to decide on economic policies will remain out of the democratic control of the majority. This is not economic sovereignty.

The European Commission presents these measures as a way of avoiding future crises. This is a rewriting of history.

The crisis was not caused by too high public spending or debt - in fact Ireland in 2007 had one of the lowest levels of public debt in all of Europe. Public debt has only ballooned since banks across Europe were bailed out.

Six years of austerity policies have resulted in the highest rate of unemployment in Europe since the introduction of the euro and continuing economic crisis.

More austerity will make it worse for the 99% and better for big business, which has benefited from labour costs being pushed down, and bondholders who continue to get repaid.

Socialism

Of course, these new rules could be broken - but it would take a genuinely left government and a mobilised population to sweep them aside.

In 1897 James Connolly warned of the danger of merely replacing a foreign capitalist government with an Irish one: "If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the socialist republic your efforts would be in vain...

"England would still rule you to your ruin, even while your lips offered hypocritical homage at the shrine of that freedom whose cause you had betrayed."

It is not enough for the Troika to leave through the front door only to come back in again through the back door. Their austerity, their undemocratic measures and their system should go with them.

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In The Socialist 22 January 2014:


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NUT strikes against management "observations"

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Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Lincoln marches against racism and fascism

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Stop cuts in Kent

Carlisle petition


Readers' comments and reviews

Benefits Street: A caricature of poverty

Leeds' forgotten dispute: The 1913-14 Corporation Strike

Robert Burns, insurrectionary poet


 

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