Bretton Woods Agreements 15 December 2011

6th October 2015 - Bernard Durkan TD

I am glad to have an opportunity to contribute to the debate . I compliment Deputy Fleming on his remark that the appearance of the IMF does not mean an evil doer has appeared whose determination is to undermine the economy. The IMF is an entity that has come at our hour of need to offer assistance and it is not a free benefactor. Financial assistance is not offered to any country without a price tag. I compliment the Minister for Finance and the Government on their success to date in achieving a number of amendments that resulted in a considerable reduction in the debt facing the country.

Deputy Fleming referred to the atmosphere that prevailed a year or more ago. The problem was that the country had been fed a diet of reassurance during the previous three years. From 2007 onwards, we were told morning, noon and night that the economy would experience a soft landing and everybody would be okay. These commentators were wrong and there was a crash landing. On top of that, there was an urgent necessity to seek a means whereby we could work our way out of it.

Over the past number of months, a succession of Members have told the House we should get more money from the banks and spend more while not paying the banks back and burning the bondholders. What a sequence of events to resolve an economic crisis. Over the past few days, a succession of Members have told the people not to pay a local tax, for example. They said they will resist it and they will advise others to resist it and they will not pay. Do they not realise our debt is a massive problem, which must be repaid? If we do not do so, we will be ridiculed and isolated by those who have the ability to assist us.

It is a long time since I was involved in a small business. I cannot understand why it has become accepted practice in the House and among experts outside the House to proclaim the notion that we should burn bondholders even though we want money off them next year and we should then burn them next year even though we will not have enough money for the year after to run our own affairs. I have never experienced anything like this in my life and I do not know where this has come from. However, it has become an accepted political ideology. Deputy Fleming blamed socialists but this is not a socialist notion. There are plenty of socialists and Members with a social conscience on this side of the House who are equally conscious of the needs of people as those who proclaim to have the answer to all their problems. It is not an ideology of the left or right; it is an ideology of irresponsibility. They are feeding the fears of people and telling them that if they follow their recipe, they will end up in a better position. However, we will end up in a worse position as a country and as an economy. The late Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, made difficult decisions. What a pity his party had not made them eight or ten years previously. Fortunately, the people decided that the incoming Government would have to do the same thing.

I refer to Ireland’s position in comparison to other member states in the emerging European scene. We have a useful role to play, as we can be seen as the country that achieved spectacular success over a short period, provided we meet our targets. The only problem in comparison to the recession in the 1980s is that property prices are still inflated. Those who were Members in the 1980s will recall that anybody who had a job could borrow to buy a home but that does not apply anymore because property prices are still too inflated and out of the reach of ordinary people. People are applying for and being refused mortgages. Many people write and e-mail us to tell us how well paid we are and how much more should be taken off us.

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