Wednesday, 27 June 2012


On Sunday last we in the Ballyhea/Charleville Says No group marched for the 69th week in protest at the continuing bank bondholder bailout. In the march with us was 6-month-old Patrick O’Brien, brought along by his parents John and Clara, who in turn had been alerted to our protest by John’s parents Pat and Frances.
Patrick O'Brien, b. Jan 2nd 2012
On Monday Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) paid out two bonds which between them came to over €600,000,000; on Tuesday and Wednesday, Anglo pay out two bonds which between them come to over €500,000,000. Both those banks are zombie banks, now owned entirely by us, kept open for the single purpose of paying off bonds; all four of those bonds are unsecured, unguaranteed.

Here's what Michael Noonan said about the bank bailout in the Dáil just two months before becoming Minister for Finance: "The Minister for Finance (Brian Lenihan) reduced social welfare payments, punished the blind, disabled, widows, carers and the unemployed and he taxed the poorest at work, and for what? It was so that the taxpayer can take on liability for debts the country never incurred and arose from private arrangements between private institutions. What a disaster and an obscenity."

Here’s what the same Michael Noonan said a couple of months into his tenure as Minister for Finance, in an RTE interview in the US with Richard Downes: “I put my cards face up on the table, saying, ‘Look, it’s no longer a bank. Anglo is now merged with Irish Nationwide. It’s a warehouse for impaired assets. Its deposit base has been moved out into the pillar banks. And it doesn’t work as a bank anymore. You can’t put your money on deposit in Anglo Irish. You can’t get a loan from Anglo Irish. So the only thing that gives it the name of a bank is because it has a banking license. It needs the banking license to access the monies from the Central Bank. So I said that as far as I am concerned, this is not a real bank. This is a warehouse, and we need your assistance in dealing with the senior bond holders because we don’t think the Irish taxpayer should have to redeem what has become speculative investment.”

On Monday I was 59 which puts me in the same generation as Michael Noonan, Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore and Pat Rabbitte, the same generation as Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan of the previous government. I look at the legacy my generation is passing on to the generation of John and Clara O’Brien, to the generation of young Patrick O’Brien. And I am ashamed, ashamed and angered. Instead of confronting a problem that is of this generation – even if not fully created by ourselves – we have allowed ourselves to be blackmailed and bullied into a situation where we are now raising generations of debt-slaves and/or emigrants. 

My own kids are aged 23 and 21 and the liklihood as of now is that for most of their working lives they will be paying off this massive bank debt, with interest. As things stand, and if you too are of this generation, this is our legacy to them, the result of the inept, incompetent and - worst of all - spineless governance by our own.

You CAN do something about it. With €30bn of Promissory Notes to be fought for, with €50bn in bank bonds yet to be paid, this war is far from over. Join us. March with us in Ballyhea and Charleville or start your own march. But protest, take a stand. Before it IS too late.

Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Friday, 22 June 2012


 (NOTE: A billion euro, €1,000,000,000 =  500 Lotto wins) 
  •  €109.7bn    Bank bond payments 30/09/08 to 30/06/12
  •   €39.9bn  Bank bond payments 30/06/12 to 31/12/15
  • €149.6bn  Total bank bond payments 30/09/08 to 31/12/15
  •  €67.8bn  Bank recapitalisation – what we’ve paid to date
  •   €44bn   Possible future exposure (per Namawinelake)
                2008    Mar 2012   DIFF
National Debt  €43.9bn    €169.0bn   + €125.1bn
Pension Fund   €21.2bn      €5.8bn   –  €15.4bn
Unemployment    6.3%       14.5%     +  8.2%
Emigration:  111/day, 3,330/month,  40,500/yr
             At its highest since the 1840s and 
             the Great Hunger.
Human cost:  Immeasurable
Page 2
THE HISTORY: The major banks of Europe’s so-called core (Germany, France etc.) were owed tens of billions of euro by Irish banks, hundreds of billions by the banks and/or governments of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy. In Ireland’s case it was private debt, every cent, but the ECB feared ‘contagion’ if an Irish bank defaulted; it decided that every bond would have to be paid in full.

THE ECB’s SOLUTION: Abusing its financial muscle it coerced a weak Irish government into converting what had been private debt to sovereign debt.

HOW IT WORKS: The ECB lends billions to the Irish exchequer which gives it to the Irish banks (that’s the €67.6bn to date - overleaf) which pay the bonds and VOILA! What was once private bank debt has become sovereign debt and without ever even being asked, YOU have a debt of €14,799.

MARCH WITH US: Every Sunday, alternate between Ballyhea (the church) and Charleville (the Library Plaza) , meet at 11.30am, 15 minute walk.

Facebook page - Ballyhea bondholder bailout protest
TWITTER:         @ballyhea14
BLOG 1: 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


And so, the trick is complete, Minister Noonan's 'where's the pea' con-job on the Promissory Note for 2012 sold to the Irish public as a 'deal' that has postponed payment. The mainstream media has been mesmerised by all the sleight of hand of the past few months – where exactly did Michael slip that €3.1bn?

Our man 'Marcel-so-what' at the BofI EGM on Monday morning

Now we know. On Monday Bank of Ireland finally held their EGM and decided by an overwhelming majority (I think the final vote was over 99% 'for') to buy from NAMA the sovereign bond it (NAMA) had been ordered by Minister Noonan to purchase from Minister Noonan, a bond which will 'mature' in 2025. Well they would, wouldn't they? Bank of Ireland will simply take the cheap money on offer from the ECB (ah, generous selfless people, those ECB bankers), then charge the government (that's us, people) a nice little mark-up to assume this bond. Their annual take? Oh, around €38m - money for jam.

While all this has been happening though, all this moving around of the 'cups' to distract people, what has happened to the pea, or in this case, what has happened to the P Note of €3.1bn? Why, it's gone! Anglo took from NAMA the €3.1bn given to them of OUR money (thanks...), in turn gave it to our Central Bank (thanks again...) who in turn, and by order of the ECB (did I mention them earlier?), destroyed that money. Every cent of it. Thus was the Promissory Note of 2012 paid, in full.

The deal? A sordid, shameful episode of 'financial engineering' (get used to that term) whereby a problem debt of this generation's creation that was eminently arguable has been transformed into a sovereign bond, but a bond that will be paid by the NEXT generation, when Minister Noonan and his friends are long gone from office.

We've been conned, people, and even as we speak the same Minister Noonan and HIS people are looking to pull a similar con-job on us on the remaining P Notes, taking today's problem and very arguable debt and transforming it into sovereign bonds to be paid by our children, and possibly even by our children's children. Is that how you would conduct your own affairs?

Meanwhile we continue to bail out the failed bank bondholders. Next week we pay four bonds, two each from the rotting corpses of Anglo and INBS, all four totally unsecured, coming to a total of over €1bn. My friends, we have been locked in a dance of death with those zombies. Time to break free. Join us in our protest in Ballyhea and Charleville, every Sunday. This week (week 69 – 16 months!) we’re in Charleville, meeting at the Library Plaza at 11.30am – plenty of time to march and still make the throw-in in Páirc Uí Chaoimh!

Diarmuid O’Flynn
Facebook: Ballyhea bondholder bailout protest

Monday, 11 June 2012


‘Eternal optimist’ is a starting description of how I see myself. This past weekend for example I hoped Ireland might finally get that long overdue win over the All-Blacks, thought we’d beat Croatia to set us up for qualification in the European finals, wouldn't have been surprised had McIlroy won in the US, and finally, felt reasonably confident Cork would beat Kerry in the Park. Only one of those events came to pass but hope still springs eternal, so fingers crossed for a win in New Zealand next weekend, for a return to form against Italy and Spain, for Rory or one of the other Irish lads to win at the Olympic Club.

Where we’re going in the current currency crisis, however, a whole other outlook entirely. There’s a blogger everyone in this country should follow, Namawinelake, and today he/she/they has/have posted a most depressing scenario vis-à-vis our banks. It’s what I've been warning about for months, what I'm writing about this week in bondwatchireland, and it’s an extension of the reason we’ve been marching in Ballyhea and Charleville for 67 weeks now, and counting.

For four years we’ve been lurching from crisis to crisis, and every time the ECB/EU intervenes it only gets worse. Our own leader, Enda Kenny, reminds me more and more of George W Bush, down to the inane grin at the most inappropriate of times – all style, no substance.
You know that scene in the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 where Dubya, on being told of the attacks on the Twin Towers, is panicked almost into rigidity, carries on as though he’s just been told ‘Lunch is at 1.30’? I believe our Enda is equally as blithely ignoring this crisis in the hope that it will just go away, that one of these days he will wake up and it will be just gone.

His ‘plan’ seems to be to keep doing everything he’s ordered to do by the ECB and the EU, to keep building debt and live off the crumbs they leave us, the crumbs also we manage to pick from under the tables of others (the interest-rate cut that came with the Greek bailout, the hoped-for break that might come with the Spanish banks bailout), and that eventually the ECB and EU leadership will lead us all out of this mess.

When our own debt situation has finally, irrevocably, undeniably, reached an unsustainable level (probably in about three/four years), Ireland – he seems to hope – will get a debt write-down. Because we’ve been such good boys and girls this of course will be granted to us without any conditions attached, no attack on our Corporate Tax rate, no reduction in either old-age pensions or welfare – that seems to be Enda’s thinking.

I believe otherwise. Month by shameful month the bank bondholders are being paid in full, that debt being transformed into sovereign debt. We started off holding a couple of aces, we still have a few good cards; not alone are we not using those cards, however, we’re giving them away, swapping them for rubbish so that in a few years we’ll be left without a single trump.

We don’t have a single leader of substance. I can just see Enda, Eamon Gilmore and Micheál Martin sitting across the table from Michael Collins, James Connolly and Eamon De Valera, Enda outlining the strategy: “Right lads, the plan is this – ye risk yere lives, take on the might of the battle-hardened British Empire Army with just a few thousand amateur soldiers and win our independence, we’ll hand over sovereignty to the ECB so we can get access to cheap loans so we can give it to our banks so they can stay open so they can pay off bondholders. I mean, we have to pay our nurses, our teachers, our Guards…”, at which point Enda nudges Michael Noonan and whispers, “Not to mention ourselves, and our pension funds, and our allowances, and our advisors, and Bertie’s €3,000/wk pension, and Brian’s, and John’s!”

You want to follow those leaders? I don’t. In Ballyhea and Charleville now for 67 weeks we’ve been marching to the beat of our own drum. We’re not begging anyone for anything, we’re demanding fair play and justice for Ireland, we’re demanding an end to the bank bondholder bailout. Last week we took our protestdirectly to the ECB HQ in Frankfurt; every week we march. Join us – Ballyhea this Sunday morning, at the church, 11.30am. If you can’t make it, start your own protest in your own town or village – we did.

Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Friday, 8 June 2012


On Tuesday June 5th 15 of us (12 from the Ballyhea & Charleville bondholder bailout protest groups, three from Anglo Not Our Debt/Debt Justice Action) landed in Frankfurt with a singular aim – take the fight against the unjust imposition of the bank debt burden on the Irish people to the ECB itself - those who are doing the imposing - at its own imposing headquarters.
Looking for justice in Frankfurt ('she's behind ye!')

Our plan was threefold: 
1) ‘Nail’ a Martin Luther-type protest scroll to the door of the soaring ECB building; 
2) hand in a letter outlining our seven demands to ECB President Mario Draghi
3) attempt in our own modest way to bring our protest to the attention of the rest of the world, including especially to the attention of the German people themselves.

We had no idea what we were facing into, anticipated that we wouldn't get near the actual ECB building itself, feared we might get ourselves arrested (we’re not yet the ‘let’s get ourselves arrested’ kind!), but were determined to do whatever we could to achieve our three objectives. So how did we get on? 

On the first night, the Tuesday night, we gathered at a restaurant a few blocks from the ECB HQ and a recce party went to scout the area. The word came back – incredibly, not a security guard nor a policeman in sight, complete access. At around midnight we headed off, unfurled our custom-made (for the Ryanair flight!) BALLYHEA SAYS NO and CHARLEVILLE SAYS NO fold-up banners, marched through the adjacent square (site of the Occupy Frankfurt group, as it happens), up to the door, and there ‘nailed’ to the door (with blue-tack) our scroll, our Ballyhea Theses. Took the photo as proof (attached), and headed to our hotel – mission number one accomplished.
'Nailed' to the door
The midnight coup

June 6th, Wednesday, this was the big one, the day the Governing Council of the ECB would convene, among them our own Central Bank Governor Patrick Honahan. The meeting was to start at 9am so we were there at 8.30pm and again, huge surprise – very little security presence, just a single police car, and again we were able to go right up to within a few yards of the front door. Mr Draghi arrived in his Merc just as we arrived on foot, bollard removed so he could be driven right to the door, quickly alighted and escorted through, no chance for us to get near. No matter, a few a minutes later Mr Honahan walked up, saw our little group and all our banners; I went up to him, explained who we were and what we were about, handed him the letter (brown envelope, I'm afraid!) and asked if he’d deliver it for us. A very personable guy, he smiled, explained that he could hardly deliver it to Mr Draghi himself (wouldn't look the best from his point of view, would it, the Irish rep handing the demand letter to Mr Draghi?), but he agreed to give it to an ECB rep – mission number two accomplished.

There we stayed for a couple of hours, speaking to members of the public, explaining to them what was happening in Ireland, that it was us, in fact, bailing out German, French and other European banks rather than us, the Irish people, being bailed out by Europe. In this regard Damian Moylan was a huge asset to the group, a multi-linguist with German being just one string to his impressive bow. 

There was a press conference set for 2.30pm for which I had secured accreditation through the Village magazine, an opportunity to ask a few direct questions. The first plan of action though was to be back in situ by 1pm to catch the attention of all the various media as they arrived. We did so, arriving in formal parade, and a most successful couple of hours we had thereafter with just the one glaring exception. Interviews with the Wall Street Journal, Der Spiegel, and a couple of other newspapers local and national (including the very helpful Anne Cahill of the Irish Examiner), loads of photos taken etc., loads of interaction with the media, the general public, and even those going in to work in the building, some of whom explained that they supported our cause. Mission number three almost fully accomplished.

The one failure? Despite being accredited, badge and all in the fist, I was refused entry to the press conference, an unnecessarily threatening Wiktor Krzyzanowski (Senior ECB Press Officer DIV Press & Information, according to his card) telling me in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t getting through – I’d been seen with that obviously anarchic group outside the door. ‘Are you afraid I’ll be causing a disruption?’, I asked; ‘I'm not in the least afraid of you,’ he told me, looking fairly smug in his considerable six-foot-plus frame. If Wiktor only knew – in North Cork hurling in the 70s he’d have been only an average-sized full-back, and they all said the same thing!

At about 4pm we packed up, most of us heading back to the hotel for a couple of hours of badly-needed rest, before heading out for a bite to eat. On the way we passed a monument to the monster that's been devouring much of Europe.
Who builds a monument to a monster?

Overall a very successful trip but thanks must go here to two people in particular, Cathleen Quealey-Moloney and Fiona Buckley-Fitzpatrick, who did all the organising, took care of all the logistics. The hotel was around the corner from a tram-stop, the tram-line directly to the ECB building square. Flights were booked, petrol money for the trip to Knock Airport collected, likewise for the bus-trip from Frankfurt-Hahn to the city, for the tram tickets, all costs divvied up meticulously. The itinerary and time schedule was planned to the metre and to the minute, every detail faithfully recorded in Cathleen’s book – there was less planning put in by Winston Churchill to the D-Day landings, and in a smaller notebook!

We would also like to thank Martin Condon, Managing Director of Cavanagh’s of Charleville, for the two people-carriers for the three days, and Anne Morris in Knock, who dropped us off and picked us up at the airport.

Finally, the 15 – the Ballyhea 15 as we’re now being called. I’ll start with the two most important people in the group, the first two signatures on the Theses. 

Frances O'Brien is a Millstreet native, married to Pat O'Brien from Ballyhea for the last 44 years, both now retired (Frances was a nurse, Pat a dairy-farmer); they’ve been with us from day one, never flagged, and their stamina on this occasion was incredible. Standing around for hours on end on concrete footpaths, holding a sign, sandwiched between two gruelling days of travel, yet not a bother on them.

Fiona Buckley from Meelin and her husband, Cork city native Robert Fitzpatrick, both now living in Charleville, and boy did they have to go around the houses to a) get time off work and b) get to Frankfurt in time for posting the Theses, staunch weekly marchers also.

Cathleen Quealey and her husband, Pat Moloney, another couple who have been there almost from the outset. ‘Does anyone else find themselves still awake in the middle of the night these days, thinking of what we can do next?’ Pat asked at one of our meetings one night. ‘Yes!’ we chorused.

Vicky Donnelly from Anglo Not Our Debt, a stranger to most of us at the start of the trip but one of our own by the end, a long-time campaigner for social justice.

Richard Chapman, friend of Vicky’s, and likewise – one of our own within a day. A quiet chap but I think we infected him a little!

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, another Cork city native, another long-time campaigner for social justice and a most interesting and informed individual, has been driving up and down from the city for months now to join our weekly march.

Hugh Mellerick, yet another Cork city native but now living in Mallow, joined us through the anti-Household Charge campaign having seen the over-riding significance of the bank debt burden and is a regular marcher with us – did immense work on signage etc. in the final few days.

Lynette O’Donoghue, from Newmarket, now living in Cullen, like Hugh a newcomer to our protest but – like Hugh – a great boost to it, totally committed and very active. Great humour, great attitude to life, very positive.

Phil Ryan, Ballyhea native, the best hurler I ever saw and that excludes no-one! Like the rest of us Phil was representing his family, many branches of whom march with us on a regular basis. Not a public speaker but well able to express himself within the group, hugely popular.

Damian Moylan, out of Mallow, a late-comer to the protest but put in more work in the last few days of the last week than most would manage in a month. Multi-linguist (Russian, Dutch, German), high-achiever, bursting with ideas, this guy could be absolutely anything he wanted to be.

Donncha Ó Briain, documentary-maker, has been side by side with us almost from the start – Ireland’s own Michael Moore, Donncha is the man who made the famous Hugo Chavez documentary several years ago. Has become a friend to all.

Yours truly, the final member of the pack.

The entire cost of the trip was funded by ourselves, with generous contributions also from those who couldn't come. We understand only too well, we’re just an annoying little gnat on an elephant’s arse. We won’t be swatted away.

Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


From: The Ballyhea/Charleville bank bondholder bailout protest group

To: Mr Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank.

Dear Mr Draghi,

For several years the ECB has been abusing its financial muscle and forcing a weak Irish government to assume for the Irish people a debt burden that is not ours. In doing so the ECB has interrupted the current of commerce and has corrupted the normal process of capitalism. 

When the Irish economy went up in flames in 2008 it burned everyone, with one glaring exception – those whose billions had fuelled those flames. The banks and financial institutions who had so recklessly loaned their excess funds into a rapidly-inflating economy, their judgement clouded by their greed, have so far not even been singed.

The ECB are the ones who have dictated that those bondholders in the failed Irish banks shouldn’t suffer their own losses, that instead we – the Irish people – should assume all that debt. We are here to say otherwise and unlike our elected representatives, we are not here to beg. In all natural justice, we are here to DEMAND the following:

1.      An immediate end to all the forced payments of bank bonds, those bonds then to be treated as they should have been treated from the beginning using the normal rules of capitalism and commerce under which they were first negotiated.

2.      The immediate destruction of all remaining Promissory Notes and the money printed by the Irish Central Bank to facilitate the payment of those failed bonds in those failed banks to be left in circulation.

3.      Permission granted to the Irish Central Bank to reprint the two instalments of those Promissory Notes already paid, totalling over €6bn.

4.      The ECB to make good the €17bn that was taken from our National Pension Reserve Fund at your behest and used to ‘recapitalise’ our bust banks.

5.      The ECB to make good the €5bn that was taken from NAMA for like purpose.

6.      The write-down of all money borrowed from you, the ECB, by the Irish Exchequer to fund those bust banks and pay off the failed bonds.

7.      The return of all interest paid to date on those bank-debt borrowings.

We are a proud people, Mr Draghi, we WILL pay – in full – all our own sovereign debt. But that bank debt is not ours, was never ours, will never rightfully be ours. We demand now that you end this imposition and allow our country and its people to properly and quickly recover.

Diarmuid O'Flynn 
Fiona Buckley-Fitzpatrick 
Rob Fitzpatrick 
Cathleen Queally-Moloney 
Pat Moloney 
Phil Ryan 
Frances O'Brien 
Pat O'Brien 
Diarmaid O Cadhla 
Donncha O Briain 
Vicky Donnelly 
Richard Chapman 
Damian Moylan 
Hugh Mellerick 
Lynette O'Donoghue


On October 31st 1517 Martin Luther nailed his famous protest, his 95 Theses, to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg, in Germany.

At that time the Catholic Church was the major power in Europe but Luther was becoming more and more uncomfortable with its increasing abuse of that power. What pushed him over the edge and prompted him into his drastic action was the sale of ‘indulgences’, whereby rich Catholics could bypass the notion of confession and penance and simply buy their way into heaven.

All seems kind of crazy now, doesn’t it, that anybody – much less the highest authorities in the church itself – would even contemplate such an idea, yet there it was and it came from the very top.

Pope Leo X wanted to finance the renovation of St Peter's Basilica in Rome and had started selling indulgences as part of a fund-raising campaign. The Archbishop of Mainz in Germany (Albert of Mainz, no less) had bought himself into that position (I know, I know – scandalous, right?) but had borrowed heavily to do so and was now deeply in debt. The sale of indulgences was a way out; he agreed to allow it in his territory in exchange for a cut of the proceeds.

Luther was incensed, composed his 95 Theses in protest. What he wanted to do was open debate on what was happening, expose what he felt was a scandal.

In Ballyhea and in Charleville, in our weekly protest marches for the last 66 weeks we’ve been trying to expose a crime, the extortion ('The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats') of tens of billions of euro from the Irish people by the powerful ECB.

And so, in a gesture which is as relevant as it is symbolic, we’ve travelled to Germany, home of Martin Luther, and we will ‘nail’ (okay, we’ll blue-tack) our own protest to the door of one of the new churches of European society – in fact to its very cathedral, the head office of the ECB in Frankfurt. This is what it will say:  

Today, June 6th 2012, nearly 500 years on from Martin Luther’s stand On October 31st 1517 when, ‘Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light’ he nailed his famous protest, his 95 Theses, to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg in Germany, we’ve come from Ireland – from Ballyhea, from Charleville, from a few other areas – and we’re on a similar mission. We don’t have 95 Theses, we do have a righteous cause and we do have our own protests, our own Theses:

1. Why has the ECB never accepted blame for its own negligence in oversight since the launch of the euro?

2. The euro was an incomplete currency from creation, lacking in the kind of centralised control mechanisms enjoyed by such as the dollar, pound, yen etc.; in those circumstances the ECB should have been extra-vigilant – it wasn’t.

3. In the early and mid-2000s a tidal wave of hundreds of billions of cheap euro flooded out from the private banks at the core of Europe, in France and Germany especially, and swamped the economies of those countries on the periphery; the ECB ignored every warning sign.

4. When the bubble burst in Ireland, in 2008, our national debt stood at less than €50bn, our National Pension Reserve Fund at just under €20bn, so in effect we were less than €30bn in the red.

5. We did have a problem, a budget deficit that year of €13.1 – large, but not insurmountable if tackled with decisiveness and courage.

6. Nearly five years of austerity budgets later our national debt stands at nearly €170bn and rapidly heading for €200bn, our National Pension Reserve Fund has been raided to the tune of €17bn, stands at just over €5bn (it had grown during 2008/09/10), which means we’re in the red to the tune of about €165bn, an eight-fold increase.

7. Our budget deficit for this year will be over €14bn, which means that despite all that austerity, all that massively increased national debt, we’re STILL no further forward in that most vital area.

8. The reason we are now many times worse off than when all this began? We’ve been bailing out the bank bondholders.

9. One fateful weekend in September 2008 top representatives of the Irish banks met with top members of the government, presented them with a doomsday situation, secured a two-year blanket guarantee of all their deposits and liabilities; they did so while offering incomplete/false/misleading information, so that the then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan boasted that it would cost ‘only’ €5bn.

10. Gradually the true picture emerged and since then, to mid-April 2012 (per current Finance Minister Michael Noonan), the Irish banks have paid out over €103bn in bonds.

11. In that time, we – the Irish people – have committed €67.8bn to the Irish banks (€62.8bn per Minister Noonan again, a further €5bn through NAMA), with talk now that they will require a further €4bn in the next year or two; this in a country whose GDP at the moment is at around €160bn.

12. The bulk of that commitment has been at the behest of the ECB which has used its financial muscle – cheap funding to our Central Bank – to blackmail successive Irish governments into assuming for the Irish people a debt that is not ours.

13. Those bank bonds were private deals between consenting adults in private for-profit institutions, deals done under the prevailing fundamental rule of commerce – ‘WARNING, your investment can fall as well as rise.’

14. The lending institutions fully understood that warning but, blinded by the potential profits, heedless of the bubble building in Ireland, they plunged in anyway.

15. When the Irish banks failed those bonds failed with them; under that fundamental rule of commerce, of capitalism, those bondholders should then have taken their hit, their haircut.

16. Enter the ECB, and its blackmail policy as applied to Ireland.

17. The ECB feared contagion if the Irish banks didn’t pay their bondholders, the risk of collapse to the big banks at Europe’s core in Germany and France – who had huge exposure to massive loans made to all the at-risk countries – and thence to the euro itself.

 18. Since these were ECB fears, then the ECB itself should have assumed the responsibility for those bonds, and it had the capacity to do so.

19. Instead, the ECB has forced that responsibility on to Ireland, which – as evidenced in the numbers above – does NOT have the capacity to carry it.

20. So we ask, by what right do you do this to us? To echo Martin Luther’s Thesis 86, ‘Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?’, we ask Why does the ECB, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, pay the bank bondholders with the money of poor believers rather than with its own money?

21. What are the ethical, moral, legal or even logical grounds for what you are doing to Ireland?

22. You have spoken often and loudly of the ‘moral hazard’ effect if Ireland doesn’t pay for the recklessness of its bankers; what of the ‘moral hazard’ effect on the bondholders, whose own recklessness doesn’t just go unpunished but is actually fully rewarded?

23. How do you explain your unprecedented interference in the course of commerce, your corruption of the one of the basic laws of capitalism, that of profit-and-loss?

24. Before there can be any borrower, reckless or otherwise, there has to be a lender; why is it that under your edicts those who so recklessly loaned hundreds of billions not just into Ireland but also into Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, are themselves the last and the least to suffer?

25. In 2010 you ‘allowed’ the Irish Central Bank print an additional €30.7bn to enable two zombie banks pay failed bonds, the infamous Promissory Notes as collateral; not a cent of that €30.7bn went to the Irish people, why should we now be made liable for even a cent of it?

26. Since this crisis began your management of it has abysmal; despite all your measures, all your meetings, not alone has it never gotten even a whit better, it has gone from bad to worse to catastrophic.

27. We call on you to admit to your own mistakes, to your own negligence from day one of the creation of the euro right up to the present moment.

28. We call on you to rethink everything you're doing, not just to change course but to reverse course and start again.

29. We call on you to write off the Promissory Notes in their entirety, to write off the bank debt you have already forced on us, the Irish people, and to do with those banks what you should have done from day one – assume responsibility for them yourselves.

30. This started life as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), became the European Economic Community (EEC), then the EU.

31. In a genuine community the strong help the weak; in this community you – the strong – have taken advantage of the weakness and vulnerability of one of the smallest countries in the EU and forced debt on us that is not ours.

32. Over the years we’ve had the addition of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the European Central Bank, layer on layer of administration.

33. The most significant of those, however, has been the formation of your own institution, the ECB, in 1998.

34. Since 1998 the ECB has been growing ever more powerful, to the stage where it is now beginning to dictate even to the elected representatives in Europe.

35. The proposed ESM treaty, as written, gives even more powers to the bankers and financiers, powers unprecedented in any democracy anywhere, ever – problem unprecedented in any kind of jurisdiction, even in the likes of the USSR or North Korea.

36. The proposed ESM treaty as written not only puts anyone who ever works for it beyond the law, it puts any document it ever writes, any decision it ever makes, any building it ever occupies, beyond even investigation – total immunity for itself and anyone associated with it.

37. This will enable it to do whatever it pleases with absolute impunity and with total immunity.

38. The original aims and values of the European project have been lost, we are now fast heading for a new superpower – the EUB, European Union of Bankers.

39. All the diagnoses made by the ECB of this crisis have been wrong, all the prescriptions have failed – in fact they’ve made the situation worse.

40. It’s time to stop, it’s time to reconsider this whole project, it’s time the ECB were brought to account. Just as the Catholic Church was a dominant power in Europe 500 years ago, the ECB has become a dominant force today. Omnipotence, however, doesn’t mean they’re always right, doesn’t mean they should not be challenged. In time, and just as the Catholic Church came to see that what it was doing then was wrong, so people will see that what the ECB is doing now to Ireland and to other sovereign peoples across Europe is wrong.

And so, our challenge.

Signed this day, June 6th 2012:
Pat O’Brien
Frances O’Brien
Fiona Buckley Fitzpatrick
Rob Fitzpatrick
Richard Chapman
Vicky Donnelly
Hugh Mellerick
Damian Moylan
Cathleen Quealey Moloney
Pat Moloney
Donncha Ó Briain
Diarmaid Ó Cadhla
Lynette O’Donoghue
Diarmuid O'Flynn
Phil Ryan