The people never agreed to pay €3.1bn a year
Did the Irish people, who must make these staggering payments year on year and for no benefit, agree to be bound in this way? It appears to me that the Irish people did not.
The Constitution, which forms the basis of how we operate as a nation, created a number of institutions of State and mandated those institutions to operate according to defined roles.
One of those institutions is Dáil Éireann. It is the most important of all the institutions for it is the “law-making” body. Apart from making the laws the Dáil has a very important power. The Dáil holds the chequebook.
Like all other democratic systems around the globe the people’s elected representatives must agree to the spending of public monies and that is a solemn responsibility placed on the Dáil.
Put simply, no minister can spend a cent of public money unless the Dáil has approved such spending.
Did the members of Dáil Éireann vote to make and provide the promissory notes or did they vote on any payment made on foot of the notes? It is critically important that the people of Ireland realise that the answer to this question is that the elected members of the Dáil never voted to make those promissory notes and have never authorised payments on foot of them.
It was the minister for finance alone who made the notes and who then made payment on foot of them. The lawfulness of this unprecedented situation will be tested in the courts early next year.
In simple terms, the question posed to the High Court relates to the essence of our democratic system. Can the elected representatives of the people of Ireland be bypassed when making such monumental decisions affecting the people for generations to come?
‘Inability to pay’
Pat Rabbitte is the first senior member of the Government to flag the country’s “inability to pay” argument. Provided this does not turn out to be a dressed-up reinvention of “kicking the can down the road”, it is to be welcomed.
But surely the same principle can and should be applied to our own people struggling to save their homes?
It is expected that the latest Central Bank figures will show a further escalation in mortgage arrears for homeowners and this is when the Government has decided to unleash a property tax.
There is no reality in expecting people in significant mortgage arrears to pay this tax when they already are unable to pay their mortgages.
This tax will only pile on further misery on middle-income Ireland, and is akin to throwing water on a drowning man.
Surely our country’s struggling homeowners also should be entitled to plead “inability to pay”.
Vincent Martin is a practising barrister and co-founder of New Beginning, an advocacy group founded to campaign for Ireland’s financial recovery by reaching a fair solution to over-indebtedness