Government ‘financing the richest in society’
TD accuses Coalition of double standards on question of write-downs
Richard Boyd Barrett: “We can’t get a write-down on public debt because the European Central Bank doesn’t do monetary financing, but it seems we can monetarily finance the richest people in the country.” Photograph: Matt Kavanagh.
The Government gives debt write-downs to the wealthiest people in the country, but will not assist ordinary struggling taxpayers, the Dáil was told.
Independent TD Richard Boyd Barrett named businessman Denis O’Brien, whom he described as the “richest person in this country” and said he had “€110 million written off in a company he takes a controlling interest in and then gets a contract to put down water meters”.
The Dún Laoghaire TD added: “Another company he owns, Independent News & Media, gets over €100 million written off. People who are saddled with mortgage debt can’t get a write-down.
“We can’t get a write-down on public debt because the European Central Bank doesn’t do monetary financing, but it seems we can monetarily finance the richest people in the country.”
He questioned why the Government would “not even ask that that debt be written off”.
Mr Boyd Barrett was speaking during a Dáil private members debate on Ireland’s bond repayments, introduced by Independent TD Joan Collins.
Ms Collins yesterday lost a High Court challenge she made to the issuing of 31 billion promissory notes for Anglo Irish Bank and the Educational Building Society in 2010.
Mr Boyd Barrett said “some of us believe that you should just tell them to go to hell and not pay it.”
“Because of this odious debt that is not ours we will be in the vice-grips, controlled by the troika and the financial markets for at least a decade, if not 20 years.”
He hit out at the Government’s commentary before the election of “not a red cent” and the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan “saying it was morally indefensible that the debts of these financial institutions should be loaded on the backs of ordinary citizens”.
“All that tough talk that people believed when they voted for you. Okay you won’t get tough but could you just ask ... that we don’t have to pay off the debt incurred by one bank, Anglo Irish, a zombie casino bank.” Ms Collins said the Oireachtas did not know precisely the sums involved when it passed legislation in 2008.
Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd said, however, that the Government had managed to build up trust with Ireland’s European partners over the last few years because “we follow through on our commitments”.
He said passing the motion would have a “detrimental impact on this trust and significantly impact on the Governments ability to negotiate in the future.” He said defaulting on Ireland’s debt or lobbying to renege on it “is not a message we want to deliver to the international community.”