“The combination of the provisions of the Fiscal Treaty and our over-reliance on multinationals means that the State has virtually no sovereignty or power to ensure the economic and social well-being of its citizens”.
Underfunding of Health Services caused by New Colonialism within Europe
38 Patients on Trolleys at South Tipp General and 42 at UH Limerick as 7 billion in annual Interest paid to European Banks
There is a Crisis at South Tipperary General Hospital. Trolley figures have increased by 100%. Figures released today show that the March 2016 Trolley figure stood at 552, up by 319 from the figure of 233 in March of 2015. Hospital attendances have increased by 10% in the last 2 months and medical occupancy is running at 150%.
On 10th March last, the day we last voted on the Taoiseach, South Tipperary General Hospital had 44 patients on trolleys, the highest in the county and the numbers have been consistently high since. Today’s figure is 38. The figure at University Hospital Limerick is 42 Patients have no dignity, no privacy and limited access to wash and bathroom facilities.
The Hospitals has been starved of resources.
Approximately 25% of the South Tipp General Budget, about €15m, has been cut over recent years. Additional beds and additional staff are urgently needed.
The Chaos in Emergency Departments and the lack of beds are now causing several hundred unnecessary deaths each year according to eminent Hospital Consultants.
There is a huge crisis of housing and homelessness with thousands in emergency acommodation including over 1,600 children staying in hotels
Planned public capital spending in the current year is at a 50 year low and may be less than depreciation. This has consequences for roads, school and hospital buildings and other necessary infrastructure
What has this to do with the debate we are having here today? This has of course everything to do with it.
This is because the previous Government, namely the Fianna Fáil–Green Party Government, and the current Government, the Fine Gael–Labour Party Government, have agreed to pay €7 billion in debt interest repayments every year to EU institutions and banks. I wonder whether the Taoiseach raised the issue of debt and its renegotiation at the recent EU Council meeting. He told us approximately two and a half years ago that there would be a game-changer in regard to debt. It never happened.
Now our services, including health, housing, education and policing services and economy are being absolutely devastated by the fact that huge sums of money are being paid out of the country to financial institutions right across Europe, including very wealthy ones. Some €7 billion per year is being paid in interest alone.
(Planned exchequer investment this year will fall to a 50-year low. It may not even cover depreciation.-Paul Sweeney -ref1)
The fiscal treaty agreed following the Lisbon treaty has created a new colonialism within Europe. That treaty flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation. It is not a sovereignty-sharing treaty. It effectively sets aside Irish sovereignty and hands it over to big EU powers.
It must be renegotiated. This could best be done in the framework of a debt -mutualisation conference.
Little Ireland has shouldered 47% of the cost of EU Bank bailouts. Ireland should demand such a conference and seek support for this demand from Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Spain, Italy and others.
The fiscal treaty requirement for Ireland is essentially a continuation of austerity over the next 20 years. This is linked to the circumstances we note today in South Tipperary General Hospital and the 1,600 children living in emergency hotel accommodation.
The fiscal compact requires that the current budget deficit be reduced below 3% of GDP, that the structural deficit be eliminated by 2018 and that the public debt–GDP ratio be reduced to 60% over the next 20 years. Despite the physical exit of the troika from Dublin, the Government and this country are still bound by the treaty to keep the current budget deficit below 3%. On the other hand, the current budget deficit in Germany, for instance, has been below 3% for the last number of years. It has no structural deficit and the German national debt–GDP ratio is at 57%, already below 60%.
In other words, there are no impositions whatsoever on Germany under the fiscal treaty.
The treaty is merely a device to force the programme countries and other indebted countries to make huge repayments to stronger countries, led by Germany, although all EU countries were responsible for the banking busts and European recession.
Water Charges and the establishment of Irish Water are a direct result of the Fiscal Treaty. Governments want to set up utility companies which can borrow “off balance sheet” and heap the repayments on to the citizens generally. This has also lead to failure of the state to invest directly in housing. This has produced the housing and homelessness crisis.
(Fooling around with so-called off-balance sheet financing and continuing to financialise housing in the middle of the worst housing crisis is costly, bureaucratic and simply does not work.-Paul Sweeney)
There are even indications that attempts may be made by FISCAL TREATY supporters to extend this model to other human services such as health and education!
A new economic colonialism has been established within Europe through the fiscal treaty. Owing to this and the payment of €7 billion in interest, the Irish economy and public services, including health, education, housing, policing and other services, are being devastated. Ireland will continue to pay over €7 billion per year in interest on borrowings. Our public service will remain under-funded. Any attempt to reduce our reliance on foreign direct investment through public investment in modern indigenous industry will fail because of that huge payment out of the country.
As Dr Jim Stewart, Prof of Finance atTCD has pointed out, Ireland is totally vulnerable to decisions by the large and powerful countries in relation to corporate tax arrangements. The US is committed to prohibiting “inversions” from which the Irish exchequer has benefitted.
The combination of the provisions of the fiscal treaty and our over-reliance on multinationals and mean the State has virtually no sovereignty or power to ensure the economic and social well-being of its citizens.
Side by side with all this goes enormous inequality in our Society. Central Stastic Office figures show that
Top 1% own 14.8% of wealth
Bottom 50% own 14.8%( same) of wealth
Top 20% own 73%of wealth
Bottom 20% own 0.2% of wealth
The new Dáil must demand the renegotiation of the fiscal treaty and the convention of a European debt mutualisation conference to ensure moneys are available to provide for citizens and public services in health, education, housing and much more besides.
The enormous inequality in our society must be tackled head on.
As Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are committed to the fiscal treaty, inequality and to over reliance on multi-nationals, I will be voting against Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin for Taoiseach
Ruth Coppinger has valiantly campaigned against water charges and is opposed in principle to coalition with FF and FG. I will be proud to vote for her for Taoiseach
ref1 Paul Sweeney, Chair TASC Economists’ Network (Former ICTU Economist)
Irish Times Article 06/04/2016