On the Feast of St. Patrick, there may be no better way to honor the patron of Ireland, who according to legend drove out snakes from the country, than by protecting the Irish people from bailing out a nonexistent reckless speculation bank.
Anglo-Irish Bank (Anglo) financed some of Ireland's worst property speculators for unsustainable golf courses, hotels and super markets and saddled the Irish people with a massive, unjust debt.
At Jubilee USA Network we know a lot about unjust debts. Over the last 12 years, along with Jubilee partners in 50 countries, our faith-based and bipartisan coalition has won more than $100 billion in debt relief and financial reforms to benefit the world's poorest. Developing nations have long struggled with large sovereign debts that divert needed funds from social services to repayment. As countries in the North now witness the global debt crisis spreading into their own economies, international financial institutions and banks have continued to respond with outdated and failed policies. Real people continue to shoulder the burden.
In 2008, the Irish government guaranteed debts owed by Anglo to its creditors, but by 2010 it was clear that Anglo was unable to repay debts on its reckless financing. The Irish government negotiated a deal with the Central Bank of Ireland and the European Central Bank (ECB) for Anglo to receive funding to repay debts. Anglo didn't have sufficient collateral, so the Irish Government created a "promissory note," or an unconditional promise by the Government to cover the liability.
Anglo failed, and it's now a dead bank. The Irish people are being forced to pay off loans incurred by Anglo's reckless lending and the government's promissory note. If Ireland continues making repayments, the Irish will have paid some $61 billion to the European Central Bank by 2031. This is a staggering 30 percent of Ireland's GDP. The government is scheduled to make a promissory note payment of $4.1 billion to the European Central Bank on March 31. While $4.1 billion could pay for funding the nation's entire primary school system for a full year, it will instead be paid into the Central Bank, be deducted from its liabilities and, effectively, be destroyed.
On St. Patrick's Day, in solidarity with our Irish partners, we urge the Irish government to immediately stop payments and enter into negotiations with the European Central Bank to ensure that the debt is written down and the money can be invested in the welfare of the Irish people.
Rev. Séamus Finn, OMI, is a Founder of the Jubilee USA Network and is the director of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
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