Groups campaign over Anglo debt

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A group of over 20 organisations today launched a campaign calling for the Government to suspend the repayment of debts of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society.

The Anglo: Not Our Debt campaign by the newly formed Debt Justice Action group, is calling on the Government to immediately suspend repayment of promissory notes and to enter into negotiations with relevant parties, including the European Central Bank write down this debt.

Andy Storey, a UCD lecturer and chairman of Action from Ireland, said that two repayments, including €1.25 billion on an unsecured bond, and a promissory note payment totaling €3.1 billion, which fall due between now and March, are “essentially dead money, money that is going to go nowhere, do nothing for anybody. But its absence, where it’s being taken from will have catastrophic consequences for Irish society”.

However, he said this was the “tip of the iceberg” when it came to Ireland’s accruing debt, money which should instead be used to maintain and expand public services and provide a much needed stimulus in a depressed economy.

“The total amount of the promissory notes is in excess of €31 billion, with interest payments that will rise to €47 billion and Ireland will probably have to borrow money to make those repayments so we could be looking at a total bill of between €80 and €90 billion. That will essentially enfeeble this country and lock it into permanent austerity for 10 or 20 or more years”.

The group denied that the suspension of Anglo payments would spread contagion through the European financial system as most of the Anglo debt is owed to central banks and Anglo is an isolated problem from the so-called Irish “pillar” banks

“What we’re asking the Government to do is very, very simple. Stop paying these debts. The Government can do this with a stroke of a pen, they can do that overnight. And having done that to enter into negotiations with the relevant parties involved in this transaction to writing down this unjust debt,” Mr Storey said.

The Debt Justice Action group is non-party political which is supported by 25 representative organisations from community, faith-based, global justice, environmental and academic groups.

The group is calling on the public to contact their local representatives and the Minister for Finance with the goal of suspending the payment of payments to Anglo bondholders and promissory notes.

Today’s launch was also addressed by Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of the Unite trade union; Dublin Community worker John Bisset; Nessa Ní Chasaide of global justice organisation Debt and Development Coalition Ireland; Marie Moran a lecturer in the UCD School of Social Justice; and Tom McDonnell, economist with independent think-tank TASC.

The group will hold a public meeting in the Teachers Club Parnell Square Dublin next Tuesday  evening. The campaign is calling on people around the country to make their voices heard in support of the campaign.

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