“Sometimes those advices fall short of what they should be and therefore there may not be the courage needed to bring the case more strongly” Fine Gael TD, Peter Mathews speaking in Charleville on 26th January, 2013
On Saturday night last, the Ballyhea/Charleville bank-bailout protesters held an evening event where a number of well-known economists, activists and politicians delivered speeches about the single greatest economic challenge facing the State – dealing with the burden of saving our banks. There speakers were Declan Ganley, Michael Taft, Luke “Ming” Flanagan, Senator Sean Barrett, some pressure groups and the Fine Gael TD for Dublin South, Peter Mathews. You can hear the 100-minute recording of the evening here. The running order is
Declan Ganley 0-7 mins
Peter Mathews 8-25 mins
Luke “Ming” Flanagan 26-38 mins
Michael Taft 39-48 mins
Pressure groups 49-64 mins
Direct Democracy Ireland
The Enterprise Party
Senator Sean Barrett 65-72 mins
Group discussion and questions & answers 73-100 mins
The Fine Gael deputy’s presence at the event has drawn praise from many quarters, and Deputy Mathews prefaced his comments with a statement that “I want to give 400% to the efforts of the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance” in getting a debt deal, but that Peter would be more forceful.
It is always fascinating to see a politician that is at heart a conservative, advocating, what is dismissed as a radical solution to our debts.
On last night’s Tonight with Vincent Brown (with Sam Smyth in the chair), it was stated from about 25:00 onwards that the Fine Gael chief whip Paul Kehoe has said he “had not been able to confirm if you [Peter Mathews] had attended the meeting but they keep a tenacious argument going [sic] but that they would be speaking [to Peter Mathews], in that threatening tone”
You can listen to Deputy Mathews’s speech here from 8 minutes in for about 17 minutes. No-one will be surprised to hear the Deputy for Dublin South (a) supporting his colleagues in their efforts and (b) demanding more attention-grabbing efforts to secure a debt write-down.
His attendance has been deeply praised by the organizers and attendees on Saturday. Last night on Vincent Browne, the Fianna Fail senator gave his support which could be a bit of a poison chalice but the support from Mick Clifford of the Sunday Times would be more neutrally intentioned.
Deputy Mathews’s attendance might have garnered national headlines, but the other speakers delivered worthwhile speeches, Declan Ganley donned an unashamedly capitalist approach in stating the simple fact that investors in failed enterprises make losses, Luke “Ming” Flanagan the Independent TD from Roscommon roused the room in a language that deeply resonated with people, Michael Taft the union economist talked about his recent research based on figures supplied by Eurostat, which show that Irish people are shouldering a bank debt which is many magnitudes greater than our partners in Europe, the pressure groups had two minutes apiece and the commonsense spoken was astounding with calls to organize and Awake Ireland referred to their case to have the debt declared odious and non-payable under international law, and Independent senator Sean Barrett advocated learning from a history of Irish bailouts and provided an overview of the cost and effects of the banking collapse. Worth a listen.
So maybe Paul Kehoe will “give a talking” to Deputy Mathews but the talking might be along the lines of thanking the Deputy. The speakers weren’t insulting the Government, they were shoulder to shoulder with the Government in supporting efforts to deal with the bank debt, but want a more forceful approach that delivers results from negotiations that have been ongoing for at least 18 months. And all Deputy Mathews did, was to bring to a local community, the admirable message that the Government isn’t aloof and that the Government is engaged in dealing with the problem, just it could do with a bit more steel in its rod. Deputy Mathews took some flak from the people present during the Q&A, for sticking by the Government, and in response why he didn’t cross the floor, he responded that he crossed Europe to bring the message to the Bundestag.
The lead organizer of the event on Saturday is Diarmuid O’Flynn, and indeed he is the man behind the 100 marches, the bread-and-water fast, taking the protest to the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, the appearances on Vincent Browne, the cycle/run/walk/crawl to Leinster House, taking the marches through Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster. He was also on the Claire Byrne show on RTE Radio One on Saturday showing a rare display of anger on traditional media towards the scandal of shoveling billions out the door to bondholders in the banks whilst imposing draconian cuts at home today and into the future. He is by no means alone, with support and leadership from others in Ballyhea and Charleville. But he lost his brother, Jack, in America last week, and is spending this week bringing the body home just a month after the protestors highlighted their cause with the a song and video, poignantly showing the destructive effect of the scourge of emigration stemming from the failure to deal with economic collapse. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis