Group opposed to bailout of banks meet Central Bank chief

‘Ballyhea Says No’ protesters meet Philip Lane for ‘frank and non-patronising’ talks

Spokesman Diarmuid O’Flynn said support for bondholders meant the transfer of private bank debt into sovereign debt. Photograph: The Irish Times

Spokesman Diarmuid O’Flynn said support for bondholders meant the transfer of private bank debt into sovereign debt. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Members of the Ballyhea Says No protest against the banks bailout met Governor of the Central Bank Philip Lane on Friday.

The Ballyhea Says No demonstrators have been marching through the north Cork village since 2011 in protest at the bailout of unidentified bondholders in the former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society.

The group met Mr Lane for about an hour in a discussion described as “frank and non-patronising” by spokesman Diarmuid O’Flynn – creator of the Bondwatch blog in which he documents bank bailout payments as they happen.

Mr O’Flynn said the Central Bank was “destroying” tranches of €500 million at a time, in bonds bought by the National Treasury Manangement Agency, in order to make up more than €31 billion to cover the cost of support for bondholders.

Sovereign debt

He said such a process involved the transfer of private bank debt into sovereign debt, and would not happen under new European Central Bank rules. He said there was goodwill in the EU towards removing the sovereign from this bailout, but Irish politicians had failed to press their case sufficiently.

“In 2014 the Central Bank took out €1 billion from the Irish economy and destroyed it. And in 2015 they destroyed another €2 billion”, he said. “That was money that could be used to build flood defences, pay for schools and the health service.”

Since their campaign began the Ballyhea Says No group has been to Brussels on several occasions, met senior officials from the European Commission, the European Council and the Econ [Economic and Monetary Affairs] committee of the European Parliament. The weekly march in Ballyhea near Charleville has made headlines in newspapers from the USA to Australia.

In Dublin it twice met former Central Bank of Ireland governor Patrick Honahan to argue Ireland’s case for bank-debt writeoff.

A spokesman for the bank said no comment would be made on the content of the meeting.