Irish Republican News · June 27, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Ireland’s rich grow richer on bailout money

Cash from the EU/IMF bailout loans are being used to fund the extravagant lifestyles of the 26-County state’s wealthy elite, according to reports from a number of quarters.

News that the chief executive of the ailing Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) Declan Collier had appropriated, with the approval of the DAA board, a six-figure sum as a “bonus” captured headlines this week and forced a public showdown with the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar.

Although Collier backed down, the rising salaries and perks being funnelled to the top of the public service and semi-state bodies has created headaches for the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government and its ‘hands off’ management of the economic crisis.

News that a group of 1,000 academics is costing the 26-County state over a hundred million euro a year (142 million dollars) in basic salary payments baffled the Minister of Education Ruairi Quinn today [Monday], who openly admitted he was unaware of the pay rates. Students are being asked to pay increased tuition fees to subsidise the professorial pay bonanza.

Other reports this week have recounted how property speculators and ‘bankrupt’ developers can receive a massive state-sponsored windfall if they repurchase their own former properties from the state’s first ‘bad bank’, the National Assets Management Authority.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s multi-millionaire judges are resisting a planned referendum to cut their half-million euro salaries, which requires an amendment to the state’s 1937 constitution. Top government broadcasters are also challenging a cut to their salaries, which reached up to a staggering 850,000 euro (1.2 million dollars) in recent years.

The government has so far only requested that staff in the public service earning more than 200,000 euro (285,000 dollars) make a voluntary ‘waiver’ of 15 per cent of pay.

Senior staff in commercial State companies earning more than 250,000 euro (360,000 dollars) will also be asked by the government to make a similar voluntary ‘waiver’.

It is understood that no-one has yet volunteered for a wage cut, but a number have requested fresh ‘bonus’ payments.

The continuing boom times for the golden circles of Irish society comes amid a declining domestic economy. The 26-County state’s GNP (‘Gross National Product’) plunged by 4.3% in the first three months of the year alone, while the value of the state’s government-issued bonds has continued to fall on international markets to historic lows, matched only by Greece in the eurozone.

In the first quarter, the state shed 67,000 full-time jobs, while the ranks of the unemployed grew by 23,500, pointing to an emigration rate of about 3,000 per week.

The government is still tying its fortunes to a reinflation of the domestic economy and property prices, despite major imbalances with similar economies around Europe.

Although his Thatcherite ‘trickle-down’ economic policy is clearly failing the vast majority of the people of the 26 Counties, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan repeated his ‘shut up and shop’ mantra to consumers this week.

“What we really need is for people to go into the shops and start buying again,” said Mr Noonan. He insisted that recovery could come on the back of Ireland’s wealthy spending their money as before.

“If that starts, with tourists visiting our shores stimulating the retail side, and is followed by our own ordinary citizens going about their shopping and beginning to spend again, then we begin to lift out of the crisis,” he said.

Sinn Fein Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty warned that the austerity being imposed on the state’s unemployed and working poor was instead strangling growth in the economy.

“Regressive taxes such as the Universal Social Charge, cuts to public spending and failure to invest in job creation are squeezing the domestic economy,” he said.

“Rather than acknowledge this basic fact of economics the government is set to increase the pressure on domestic demand. Proposals for a household charge, water tax and site valuation charge, combined with threatened cuts to social welfare and public spending as well as changes to tax bands and credits will further contract the economy, resulting in more job losses and financial hardship for thousands of already hard pressed families.

“The government needs to wake up to the fact that pursuing the failed economic policies of Fianna Fail and the EU/IMF will do nothing to assist economic recovery. We need a major economic and family stimulus, to create jobs, boost economic demand and return the domestic economy to positive growth.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News