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Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Good Friday but not for us


On Wednesday this week I sat in one of my constituency clinics and waited for those with appointments to turn up. You never know what to expect as it is a tough time for people at the moment. One woman was in tears as she and her husband both lost their jobs and are unable to pay the bills. She was distraught and was worried about how she would fend for her children. A 40 year old man on the housing list for 10 years asked would he ever be offered a house. Several people were at their wits ends worrying about why their application for benefits of one kind or another was taking so long. One woman is waiting 14 weeks for her social welfare payment to come through. Another guy is waiting months for his medical card. A lady who is losing the family home was looking for advice as to what to do. The banks showed her and her family no mercy or compassion and forced the couple to surrender the house. Not to do so she argued would have prolonged the agony.

The day before Brian Lenihan took to his feet in the Dáil and announced to a public reeling from the effects of the recession that they, the taxpayers of Ireland, would pump €80 Billion Euro into five wayward banks. The same Brian Lenihan took to his feet in the same chamber only a few short months ago and delivered a savage budget that cut people’s wages, social welfare rates and public services. He had nothing to offer the couple in my clinic who had both lost their jobs or those desperately waiting for benefits. He left them without hope for the future. It seems our economy, our banking system and our Government serve the Seanie Fitzpatrick’s of this world and not the tax paying public.

The scale of the bank bailout is almost as incomprehensible as it is reprehensible. We are investing one and a half times our GDP into the banks over the next number of years. We are mortgaging our future to pay for the recklessness of the few. We are ensuring that the Irish economy will stand still for the next 15 years. Our children will most likely be still paying the debt in a generation to come. On Good Friday the first tranche of loans coming from the top ten developers, totaling 1,200 loans will be transferred to NAMA. This will be followed be a further re-capitalising of our banks to the tune of €30 billion. Bank of Ireland will need €2.7 billion, AIB €7.4 billion, Irish Nationwide €2.7 billion, EBS €875 million and Anglo Irish a staggering €10 Billion. Today is Aprils Fools day. Visitors to the country would be forgiven for mistaking the headlines in our newspapers as a national April Fools joke – Government spends three times the national debt bailing out the banks. I struggle to contain my anger as I recall the hardship and difficulties of those who attended my clinic. The Irish Republic has well and truly lost its way.

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