A week to betrayal
A week to betrayal

The new Fine Gael-Labour coalition has already backed away from pre-election promises to give the people a say on the EU-IMF bailout deal.

Despite pledging to seek a mandate for the deal when in office, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has already ruled out a referendum on the high-interest 85 billion euro loan offered by bureaucrats in Brussels.

The new 26-County Taoiseach and his Finance Minister Michael Noonan have both warned of an “unsustainability” in meeting the demands of the European Union, ECB and IMF, but have refused to contemplate any alternative.

The new government has instead engaged in talks with the French and German governments around increasing the State’s rate of corporation tax in exchange for lower interest rates, a move that has already jeopardised crucial inward investment.

In his view, the general election represented a referendum for his actions, the new Taoiseach said on Tuesday.

“This Government was given a clear mandate to improve the terms, in respect of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, on behalf of the Irish taxpayer,” Mr Kenny added. “That is where the entire focus will be.”

The French and German government hope to coerce the new Dublin administration to increase their rate of corporation tax from 12.5%, seen as key to Ireland’s international competitiveness in the face of high business costs and declining educational standards.

Sinn Fein Gerry Adams said there should be no need to talk about corporation tax because they had been told during the Lisbon Treaty referendum that it was an issue which would not come up again.

Mr Adams also pointed out that the Universal Social Charge was being applied in order to meet the debts of Ireland’s failed banks. He asked what the government intended to do about the “unsustainable” banking debt.

“The real question relates to the comment of the Minister for Finance that the situation will not be sustainable. When will that happen? We are riding into a crisis about which our party warned during the election campaign.”

Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party said that after “six short Hibernian days and nights” the government was guilty of “monumentally betraying” its promise of honesty.

The programme for government had promised burden-sharing so that the gambling bondholders in the Irish banks would carry at least some of the massive losses they incurred and which were now being foisted on the people, he said.

“Only three weeks ago they were lining up the tanks to roll on Frankfurt to insist on terms with the ECB against the pressure of speculators,” he added.

“Now it appears the tanks will not get any further than the local social welfare office to shake down the unemployed and the poor to pay off the very same speculators.”

Mr Higgins said that since 2009, 15.4 billion euro had been poured into the banks by the taxpayer and a further 40 billion euro was now being contemplated.

Mr Higgins pointed out that some people had drawn a parallel between the Famine and what was happening today. While he would not wish to make the comparison, fresh produce had gone abroad to pay landlords while people starved and now billions were going into European banks while a half-million people were languishing on the dole.

Mr Kenny said only that there were plans to hold further meetings with the other European leaders following his return from St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington.

“My focus is on obtaining an improvement in the terms of this deal for the Irish people, and that is where my focus will remain.”

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