Ireland's Fiscal Nightmare: Political Incompetence & Media Complicity

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Anti-austerity protest in Dublin, Ireland, 22 February 2015. Courtesy: Open Source

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 14 March 2015

While the new Syriza government in Greece continues to capture the headlines of the mainstream media as it grapples with the austerity measures imposed by the Troika, aka. the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the effects of these Institutions monetary policies are being acutely felt in other parts of the European Union (EU), namely Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland.

In the case of the latter, Ireland, the downward spiral into the mire of debt and despair began much earlier, in September 2008, when the Cowen regime officially announced the country was in a recession. The pain was almost immediate as government officials sought to increase taxes on the employed whilst reducing funding for social services, healthcare and education. Even the controversial cost-cutting budget of 2009 was brought forward, to October 2008, in an attempt to stem the fiscal bleed.

Ireland had not so much reached financial rock bottom as the year drew to an end but simply embarked upon a tortuous descent into financial ruin and the indentured servitude of its people to the Troika while the mainstream media buried their collective heads in the sand.

As the events since clearly indicate:

2009: A levy was imposed on the pensions of civil servants and other government employees. Numerous protests and marches took place throughout February and March.
2010: Increased university registration fees, student maintenance grant cuts and increased unemployment. Student protests, subjugated by police brutality, and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions both took part in protests and marches during November.
2011: Corporate greed and malfeasance continued throughout the year as the Enda Kenny regime came to power. In October, 'Occupy Dame Street' and 'Occupy Cork', two protests that focused on economic inequality, social injustice and corporate greed got under way as the students, once again, launched another protest on the issue of tuition fees.
2012: The Kenny administration announced new 'Household and Water Taxes' and went on to dismantle the 'Occupy' movements in early March followed by the total removal of all protest camps by June. The general public, workers and students took part in numerous protests in late March, April, July, October, November and December as the interests of the disparate groups coalesced against the regimes austerity measures.
2013: The 'Household Tax' was finally implemented on the 1 July while the 'Water Tax' floundered because of infrastructure and collection issues. Protests against both taxes continued throughout January, February, April and May as various interests groups railed against the taxation of ordinary citizens whilst corporations continued to both avoid and evade their fiscal responsibilities.
2014: Public protests in March, October, November and December witnessed a growing escalation of the public's dissatisfaction of Kenny's mismanagement of the country's fiscal crisis now in its seventh year. The 'Water Tax' continued to flounder as protesters and interest groups waged campaigns against its successful implementation and civil disobedience by all walks of life became widespread as the year drew to a close.
2015: Public protests against the politicisation of the Office of the Irish President and the arrest of anti-austerity activists have continued throughout January and February.

That the Cowen and Kenny regimes have presided over the wholesale destruction of Irish society and were aided and abetted in this endeavour by a complicit and subservient media is patently obvious. The effects of their monetary policies over the last seven years have resulted in a GDP per Capita Growth Rate that is stuck in reverse whilst unemployment soars into the clouds.

As the table above indicates, which includes Ireland's last good year, 2007, just before the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) erupted creating financial havoc akin to the Great Depression of the 1930's, the per Capita GDP Growth Rate has averaged -1.27% from 2007 to 2013 while unemployment has averaged 11.54% during the same period. Clearly the data from these two indicators show a major change in the fortunes of the people: their incomes have actually declined year on year and there are now more than three times as many people looking for work as there were back in 2007.

The fact that the IMF admitted three years ago, in 2012, that their austerity policies had gone much too far and many European states, in particular, were forced to reduce their deficits too quickly, has effectively stymied all growth. The reality is, European Monetary Union (EMU) fiscal policies have never been harmonised in Europe and the introduction of the Euro currency has effectively removed any opportunity for member nation states to devalue their way out of a recession.

Of course, the Irish people are not alone in having these disastrous monetary policies foisted on them by the Troika as the southern European states of Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have proven. However, in the Emerald Isle, the general public have not only endured their ruthless imposition by successive authoritarian apparatchiks but have been ill-informed or, as oft is the case, woefully misinformed of the true situation by a subservient and complicit media.

The truth is, if the current fiscal policies continue and there is little or no growth, Ireland's economy is set to remain in the doldrums for the foreseeable future.

The nightmare continues.

When the fourth estate aids and abets the first three, its time to take the fifth.
Ann-Marie de Veer