I spoke Re: Catherine Murphy’s motion which referred to the call for a EU debt conference. The Government’s amendment to this bill refers to the economic recovery. We are the fastest growing EU member state. How much further would we be with a different debt, one that was not unsustainable? A considerable portion of this is not our debt, and private bondholders are rubbing their hands in glee at their good fortune at our expense.
The situation we are in now is the situation that many African countries were in when they had unsustainable debt which was hindering growth and had conditions attached to their loans that were not in their best interests. An ad hoc UN committee on sovereign debt restructuring processes has been established and met today in New York for the first time. Ireland boycotted it, using the excuse that this was not something the EU was getting involved in, yet some EU countries were involved. It does not make sense to boycott a mechanism to resolve sovereign debt crises which could potentially facilitate Ireland getting some leeway on unjust debt, such as that undertaken in connection with the Anglo Irish Bank bonds.
There is a change of mood in Ireland and in Europe. There is a demand for a different way because families, communities and citizens are more and more demanding that they, and future generations, do not have to service a debt that was created by a greedy few, who gambled and lost, but did not really gamble as their bonds and investments were guaranteed. Who do we, as TDs, represent? Is it the bondholders, the developers, the reckless banks and the financial institutions, or is it the people? It is very hard to accept that there are certain developers who lost but who are getting €200,000 a year from this country. If the best interests of the people were the priority and if the Government wanted to show that it is connected with the people, why not support the motion? This motion is about a conversation, about a debate, about a conference. We Irish people are very good at debate and conversation. I do not understand what there is to lose by having this debate and agreeing with it.
There is a reminder in the motion about the founding principles and the values of the EU, which are to do with solidarity and mutual respect among nations. Where is that solidarity and mutual respect when European debts are placed on the most fragile shoulders, when Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece have suffered disproportionately? It is almost sadistic. The press conference this morning called by Deputy Catherine Murphy was basically asking for a wider debate that would involve the Government, Departments, academics, NGOs, communities and citizens. It is a great topic for a constitutional convention, if we want to take that road again. It is basically about the common good. Where is the fear in that?