Editorial

They came for Cyprus

Wednesday, 20 March 2013
1:43 PM GMT



So, the mirage that is European solidarity has been exposed. They came for Cyprus, and we – and plenty of others – said nothing. In fact, it was our Finance Ministers who voted for it.

Michael Noonan didn’t vote for it, mind; he just chaired the meeting that decided a raid on ordinary peoples’ savings was the way to pay off the debts of banks. We should be dying of shame that this is being done in our name.

Instead, we think happy thoughts, and thank God and the ghost of Brian Lehihan that it wasn’t us.

Instead of paying out of our savings, we are paying directly out of earnings – money we’ll never even see to save – for the profligacy of speculators, gamblers and thieves, who continue to make millions with impunity.

On Tuesday night the Cypriot parliament voted not to accept the terms dictated by its European 'partners', that said between 6.75% and 9.9% of ordinary peoples’ savings – college funds, retirement funds and rainy day money – would be taken overnight to bail out its banking system.

The Cypriots are lucky they have a parliamentary system that works. Their misfortune, it seems, is being in the European Union, where every other ‘bailout’ country’s parliament has accepted the medicine being prescribed for its people.

As TD Stephen Donnelly pointed out, speaking on radio yesterday, at least elected representatives were asked; our cabinet was notified of the bailout, rather than asked to decide, while TDs rubberstamped it, well after the fact.

The excuse being cited – that Cyprus’s banks are full of dirty money being laundered by the Russians – is laughable. The City of London, and indeed the shell companies of Dublin’s IFSC, are both full of money from all sorts of questionable sources.

Default now appears on the horizon for Cyprus. Its neighbour, Greece, has already defaulted on half its sovereign debt.

Banks are closed. The threat, often repeated to us, of the ATMs not giving out any money, is a reality.

In an interesting move, the Church of Cyprus has offered its resources for the disposal of the State. Another far cry from Ireland, where the Catholic Church has succeeded in making the Exchequer foot the bill for most of the abuse compensation claims

‘Plucky little Cyprus’ is doing what we didn’t; calling the EU’s bluff in the face of bullying and threats. Because they know what we didn’t, at the time of our bailout; if they maintain this defiance and default, they could bring the euro area down.

For five years now, ordinary people all over the world have paid the debts of bankers who earn vast multiples of their wages. This affects every one of us every single day.

Nobody in power has done anything to stop this cycle repeating again. If Ireland’s Presidency of the EU – an exercise in ego and grandstanding if ever there was one – is to mean anything, perhaps we can take a lesson from Cyprus and start the process of standing up to the financial industry.

Otherwise, history will look back at this episode, along with the other sorry episodes of the financial crash, as it did at other injustices throughout history. They came for Cyprus, and we should do something. 

 

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