Ballyhea group protests at European Central Bank
A group of 15 Irish people including members of the Ballyhea and Charleville Bondholder Protest groups protested outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt yesterday.
They also had a letter of protest passed to Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank. Mr Draghi witnessed the group protesting outside the bank, but the group were unable to talk to him in person. Olli Rehn, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro also passed the group as he entered the main building.
Speaking to the Cork Independent yesterday Diarmuid O'Flynn, the protest's organiser, said:
"I was just thrown out of the European Central Bank (ECB). Someone from the ECB press office came down and said they were afraid that I could cause havoc in the press conference. I had my official media accreditation from Village Magazine.”
The question the group wished to ask was: ‘The bailouts of banks and bondholders has so far cost the Irish people €67.8 billion, over 40 per cent of our GDP and it is approximately €17,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. Last week the European Commission said the likelihood of this debt not being sustainable is high. In light of this, will the ECB persist with the current policy in Ireland or will they re-consider especially with regard to the promissory notes?
The idea behind their protest is to try to engage directly with the ECB and make their presence felt. “Now it can be no longer said that the Irish don’t protest,” he said.
“We had signs in German and lots of people stopped to talk to us. They are not aware of the burden on the Irish people and if they had a similar burden there would be riots,” he said.
“This burden is forced on us because we are a small country. We have gotten breaks on the back of the Greek bailout and the government claimed credit. The same may happen with Spain. Other people are doing our negotiating and this government is incapable of standing up for us.”
Members of the group were surprised to find Patrick Honohan, governor of the Central Bank of Ireland on the same Ryanair flight to Frankfurt as them. They didn’t manage to talk to him on the flight but they did meet him as he entered the ECB this morning.
“He took our letter and said that he would present the letter to Mario Draghi, although he smiled and said that he couldn’t hand it to him personally as it mightn’t look great!”
On Tuesday night the group of 15 symbolically ‘nailed’ their own ‘theses’ to the door of the ECB in honour of Martin Luther’s famous ‘95 Theses’, which started the Reformation. The ‘Ballyhea Theses’ has 34 points.
“Overall, we think the protest has been very successful. We achieved everything we wanted but get into the press conference and I nearly did that,” according to Mr O’Flynn.
In the letter to Mario Draghi, the group had a list of demands, including an immediate end to all the forced payments of bank bonds, the immediate destruction of all remaining promissory notes and the money printed by the Irish Central Bank to facilitate the payment of those failed bonds in those failed banks to be left in circulation. Other demands include “the return of all interest paid to date on those bank-debt borrowings”.
Ballyhea & Charleville protest in Frankfurt