Thursday, 23 August 2012


On Sunday last the noted economist Colm McCarthy had an article in the Sunday Independent in which he suggested the Irish government should sue the ECB for the money we have been forced into sinking into our banks.

On Sunday last also, week 77 of our on-going protest against those actions by the ECB, the Ballyhea/Charleville regular Sunday morning march took place but with a twist – a few of us who couldn't be in Charleville instead held a simultaneous march in Dublin.

                The Charleville Brigade                                      The Dublin Branch

With due respect to the man, Colm was merely stating the obvious. In fact, not alone did the ECB exceed its remit in what was done to Ireland, it went beyond the bounds of the law – blackmail and extortion, which is what has been happening on an on-going basis to us since the ECB became involved in our finances, is illegal in any civilised jurisdiction, and has been for millennia.

Of course, then, we should sue the ECB, that’s without question; there IS a question, however – for how much? ‘Somewhere north of €20bn’ is the estimate Colm put on it on the excellent Tonight With Vincent Browne TV3 show this week – with due respect again Colm, not nearly enough.

Blackmailed by the ECB, we have thus far sunk €69.6bn into our banks, an additional debt burden which in the first instance prompted ‘the markets’ to force us out of the club but an additional debt burden which is now crushing us – the vicious circle between banks and sovereign mentioned in the opening line of the recent hugely significant EZ Leaders’ statement.

Our government must now demand, on our behalf, the return of ALL that money. It can be done as follows: a) Burn all remaining Promissory Notes; b) in a local Quantitative Easing measure, allow our Central Bank to reprint the €6bn already destroyed to satisfy the Promissory Notes of 2011 and 2012; c) through a similar Quantitative Easing measure, allow our Central Bank to print the €21bn plundered from the National Pension Reserve Fund and handed over to the banks and thence to the bank bondholders; d) all bank-related debt to the various ECB funds to be written off; e) all bank-debt-related sums so far paid to the various ECB funds (including interest) to be repaid.

That’s our first fight, that’s Ireland’s fight, but it’s not the end of this war. Even as we’re battling to get back the money that was forced from us we must join forces with all the nations of the EC and do what the EZ Leaders themselves – again going back to that statement – have already agreed, break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns. That, they said, was imperative.

Right across Europe we must work together to break the power of the ECB, to put an end to its odious and failed policy of using public money to bail out failed private banks and their failed private bondholders. This isn’t even a question of forcing those bondholders to suffer their own losses, it’s a question of allowing them suffer those losses. That’s how their own system works, that’s capitalism, that’s commerce. Warning: your investment may fall as well as rise – we’re all familiar with that line, no? What the ECB did in Ireland, what it continues to do, is an attempt to dam the flow of that river. We need to now slowly dismantle that dam, before the whole damned thing bursts and swamps us all.

This Sunday, week 78, march with us, Ballyhea Says No To Bank Bondholder Bailout; meet at Ballyhea church car-park 11.30am, short and dignified protest with neither chant nor slogan.

Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


August 14th 2012

Emerging from cavernous Croke Park at around nine o’clock last Sunday evening, all the All-Ireland hurling semi-final work for the Irish Examiner tucked up and put to bed (that’s ‘tucked’ up!), I was heading to my car when hailed by a guy along the way. He had been there for a while he told me, waiting for me to emerge, knowing I would have to pass where he was parked because he had noted my car further on with all the ‘Ballyhea Says No To Bondholder Bailout’ stickers.

He was waiting so he could apologise, apologise for a remark he had made several hours earlier when passing our little group as we were getting our picture taken in front of Croke Park, having marched from the Garden of Remembrance.

It wasn’t his true form, he explained, wasn’t his true feeling either; far from disparaging what we were doing he respected us, even supported us in principle. I accepted the apology of course, fully and without reservation.

Truth be told, though I had heard the comments and noted the speaker it hadn’t bothered me, not in the slightest. Over the last 76 weeks those of us who have been marching every week in protest at the extortion of tens of billions of euro from us by EU/ECB have become used to every kind of criticism, have become inured to every kind of disparaging remark.

This isn’t to say we’ve become pros at this protesting lark – far from it. We’re all so far out of our comfort-zones now that we’re going to need assimilation courses to get back to normality when all this is finally over. Many times over the past 16 months my guts have been in knots as I waited for our next move to unfold – sit-down protests on the main Cork/Limerick road, Run To The Dáil, a week-long bread-and-water fast, the ECB HQ protest in Frankfurt. Last Sunday in Dublin was no exception. 

Unable to make the Ballyhea protest because of the All-Ireland hurling semi-final in Croke Park (for those who don’t know, I work for the sport section of the Irish Examiner), I had decided at the last minute to bring a branch of the protest to Dublin, meet at the Garden of Remembrance at 11.30am, the same time they were meeting in Ballyhea, then set off at noon for Croke Park. At that appointed hour, I can tell ye, 11.30am, the Garden of Remembrance was a hell of a lonely place!

A few people did turn up, and I'm so grateful to them – so should be the whole country. We marched, got a lot of bemused looks, a few shouts of support, and yes, some disparaging words. But in spite of it all we march, because we know, now more than ever, that our cause is just.

At the end of June and to much fanfare, our media proclaimed a great deal for Ireland – the Eurozone leaders had met and from that summit was issued a statement which began with these immortal words: ‘We affirm that it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns.’ This is an admission that the policy which had been forced on Ireland hadn’t worked, had in fact seen us caught in this ‘vicious circle between banks and sovereigns’.

In the next few weeks, to absolutely no fanfare, that vicious circle continues, a €600,000,000 bond from Anglo on September 3rd, then a billion-euro bond – yes, that’s €1,000,000,000, would fund a lot of gold medals – on October 1st, this one from AIB. We own both those banks, that’s our money, and this scandal is still going on.

That’s why we march, that’s why we risk derision, even from our own friends and neighbours. We don’t ‘cod’ ourselves about either our size or our impact but neither do we care; some day everyone else will awaken to what the EU/ECB is doing to us, the people of this little nation. It's not just wrong, it's not just bullying, it's criminal; it is extortion, it is larceny, it is blackmail, tens of billions of public funds (€69.6bn so far) being diverted to bail out failed private banks and their failed private bondholders. It’s a crime being perpetrated by the EU/ECB against one of its smallest member states at a time when that state is at its most vulnerable.

This Sunday, Aug 19th 2012, we’ll meet again at the Garden of Remembrance, 11.30am, in solidarity with the march back home in Ballyhea and Charleville, and we’ll march again, at noon, to Croke Park. We wouldn't mind a few extra with us, however, wouldn't mind at all!

Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

WEEK 75 - The flyer; feel free to print and post!

Ballyhea/Charleville Bondholder Bailout Protest
Upcoming Event
This Sunday 5th August at 11:30am
Town Plaza, Charleville
     Profile picture          

              Mr Stephen Donnelly TD                         Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev

To mark the 75th Week of Protest Marches against the ongoing payments to bondholders we are delighted to announce we will be joined by Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev (Economist) and Mr. Stephen Donnelly (Ind. TD Wicklow) amongst others, who will discuss the inequity of the payment of those bonds. We will commence proceedings with our usual short march and then move to The Charleville Park Hotel for speeches and discussion.



Co. Cork
Aug 2nd 2012


Dear Sir/Madam;

It began on March 6th 2011, the weekend after the General Election when Fine Gael leader and prospective Taoiseach Enda Kenny indicated, even before he had formed a government, that he would be going back on his pre-election promise of burden-sharing with the bondholders; 75 weeks later it’s still going strong.

Ballyhea is a rural parish in north Cork on the main Cork/Limerick road, has a population of around 1,000 souls, Charleville the nearest town, has a population of around 3,500. Sixteen weeks into our protest a group from Charleville followed our example and began marching in the town; several weeks after that we joined forces and since then we’ve alternated the march between the two centres, every second Sunday in each place. This week it’s the turn of Charleville, gathering at the Library Plaza at 11.30am.

We will be joined this week by well-known economist Dr Constantin Gurdgiev (his third march) and by highly respected Independent Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly (his first outing), along with several other high-profile individuals. After the march, which lasts for only about 15 minutes, Constantin and Stephen will host a discussion at the Park Hotel, on the outskirts of the town.

With the recent statement from the Leaders’ Summit, ‘We affirm that it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns’, the EU has admitted that its policy of the past few years as forced on Ireland, the conversion of private bank debt to sovereign debt, was wrong, has to be changed.  In Ballyhea/Charleville, we’ve been protesting that wrong for 75 weeks. 

This admission by the EU is welcome, very welcome. However – and this point is critical – it doesn’t right the wrong, it merely acknowledges it. We can’t undo the massive damage done to the Irish economy and to Ireland’s reputation as a result of the EU/ECB policy over the past few years; we must do our damnedest, however, to get back the billions we were blackmailed into  pumping into our failed banks to enable them to pay the failed bonds (a practice, by the way, that continues unabated - €19bn in bonds from Irish banks this year alone).

So we march, 75 weeks now. It’s not Olympic-standard endurance but we are in search of gold, our gold, and until we see this wrong righted, until we see action as opposed to rhetoric, we’ll continue to march. We invite anyone in the area to please join with us this Sunday. This is not just Ballyhea’s fight, nor just Charleville’s fight – it’s YOUR fight, it’s everyone’s fight, right across Europe.

Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.