Patriots and traitors

Republicans are being urged to turn out in large numbers at Easter commemorations across the country this weekend to reassert “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland” following shocking revelations of corruption and fraud in the Dublin parliament this week.

Sinn Fein’s leader in the Dail, Caoimhghin O Caolain said “never was there a greater need” to assert the rights of the Irish people, first declared on the steps of the GPO on Easter 1916.

“Easter 2010 comes just days after the Fianna Fail/Green Government committed further billions of taxpayers’ money to prop up corrupt banks and to bail out speculators. They have surrendered public money and piled debt on this and future generations of Irish citizens. The Fianna Fail/Green Government has no moral authority and no political mandate to do this.

“The Proclamation declared the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and ‘standing on that fundamental right’ proclaimed the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State.

“Today, instead of an Irish Republic we have a NAMA Republic which is being governed not in the interests of the people but in the interests of an elite. That same elite has brought our economy to its knees.

“And instead of pursuing ‘the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally’, we have a Government that has increased inequality and social and economic divisions.”

The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen was accused of “economic treason” in the Dail on Tuesday after his Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan unveiled a shocking plan to double the national debt in order to bail out a corrupted banking system.

The banks, led by the infamous Anglo Irish Bank, effectively collapsed last year after wild speculation in the Irish and international real estate markets by property developers left the banks shouldering tens of billions of euro in bad debts.

Many of the developers and their bankers had political connections to the Fianna Fail government. Cowen, who was Minister for Finance at a time when the banking system was being undermined by corrupt lending practices, refused to accept any of the blame for the economic disaster which they unleashed.

The accusation of treason by Labour leader Eamon Gilmore was “beyond the pale”, said Cowen, his lips quivering with indignation.

“Any decision I ever made in the privileged position I hold in this, or any other office, has been in the best interests of my country as I saw it,” he said.

But politicians and commentators alike were left gasping at the scale of the cost to the exchequer of the NAMA bailout, which is now up to 80 billion euro and could go higher still.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s announcement to inject up to 18.3 billion euro into Anglo Irish Bank alone. it emerged that the directors of the bank -- some of whom have left the country -- had taken hundreds of millions of euro from the bank through ‘personal loans’.

But Mr Cowen denied any personal wrongdoing and insisted any decision he had ever made in office had been in the interests of the country and taxpayers.

“I want to assure you, whether you agree with them or not, be under no illusion about the motivations that moved me to make them,” Mr Cowen told the Labour leader.

“I’d never come into this House and accuse another Irish man of what you accuse me.”

Mr Gilmore insisted the Taoiseach publish all the advice and information on which the government decision was made to unconditionally include Anglo Irish Bank within the terms of the blanket bank guarantee.

By publishing the documents, the “veil of secrecy” would be lifted on the events of September 2008. Taxpayers, he argued, were entitled to know the basis on which the decision to include Anglo Irish Bank was made.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny also linked the Taoiseach directly to the banking crisis. He said that lack of regulation and oversight by Mr Cowen while Finance Minister had caused the “cataclysmic financial consequence” for every person in the country, but stopped short of accusing Mr Cowen of corrupt practices.

Sinn Fein’s Arthur Morgan said the scale of the payments to the banks were “astounding”.

“It should not be forgotten how vociferously Government ministers rejected criticisms from those of us who warned that the economy was not built on solid foundations, that a property bubble was developing, that the exchequer was over dependent on taxes from construction and consumption. There was time to act, time to turn things around but there was no will to do so.

“The question has to be asked if we could see this how can those who were in cabinet during that period claim not to have known. Why did they turn a blind eye to the actions of bankers and developers? Can a party that has such close ties to many of those at top of and involved with Anglo Irish bank really expect us to believe they knew nothing of what was going on inside that bank?

“It is time to over throw a culture that has existed in this state for far too long. A wealthy elite who have been pandered to by successive governments. For decades they have enjoyed a position of privilege and undue influence over government policies. People rightly want answers as to how and why government policies which fuelled the property bubble were allowed to continue in existence when the damage they were doing was obvious.

“This isn’t about a rogue group of bankers and developers -- this is about a parasitical section of our society wedded to the two largest political parties in this state.”

Hundreds of commeorations and wreath-laying ceremonies are being held this weekend by more than a dozen republican organisations across Ireland and beyond. Sinn Fein are organising the most, with almost a hundred such events, followed by Republican Sinn Fein with over fifty.

New political party eirigi chairperson Brian Leeson urged republicans to attend the party’s five commemorations, including events in Dublin and Belfast.

He said: “The state of Ireland today indicates that all republicans and socialists still have a lot to do to make the vision contained in the 1916 Proclamation and the writings of James Connolly a reality.

“Half-a-million people are unemployed in this country, the population in the Six Counties continues to live under an occupation enforced by the British government’s armed forces, while the political institutions in both states serve no one but the wealthy.

“The resting places of Ireland’s patriot dead are the perfect venues for socialist republicans to recommit themselves to ending these injustices and building an Ireland that the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation would be proud of.”

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© 2010 Irish Republican News