Monday, January 17, 2011
Irish PM won't quit over debt crisis
January 17 2011 at 10:39am
Ireland's Prime Minister, Brian Cowen will not resign as head of the ruling Fianna Fail party.
Dublin - Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen faces a fight for political survival as he rebuffed pressure to resign and a senior Cabinet colleague announced he would challenge him for the party leadership.
Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said he had “reluctantly concluded” that Cowen would have to be forced from office since he refused to go voluntarily. The two face a showdown on Tuesday when lawmakers of the long-ruling Fianna Fail party gather to vote whether to keep Cowen or promote Martin.
At stake is the course of Ireland's fightback from a European-record deficit amid a €67.5 billion international bailout. The leadership tussle within Fianna Fail - “Soldiers of Destiny” in Gaelic - raised new doubt over whether lawmakers would be able to pass a deficit-slashing bill without a national election first.
For the second time in four days, Cowen defied expectations and refused to quit on Sunday in the face of mounting opposition within Fianna Fail to his leadership.
Instead, Cowen announced he would ask his party's legislators to take a vote of confidence in him on Tuesday. Cowen said he was assured of winning the secret-ballot vote and lead Fianna Fail to a seventh straight election victory.
Hours later Martin - one of three Cabinet ministers who have signalled their desire to succeed Cowen - became the first to declare a challenge. Martin said he had tendered his resignation as foreign minister because he no longer supported Cowen and would ask lawmakers to back him instead on Tuesday.
Many lawmakers want Cowen to quit immediately in hopes that their party might fare better with a new leader in place for an election expected to take place sometime this spring. Cowen, who was finance minister before gaining the top post in 2008, is closely associated with the property-pushing tax policies that have brought Ireland to financial ruin.
Fianna Fail has governed Ireland almost continuously since 1987, but has plummeted to historic lows in recent opinion polls.
Opposition leaders, meanwhile, still intend to pursue their own no-confidence motion in parliament against Cowen - and pleaded for Fianna Fail to declare an election date. Fianna Fail has sought to delay that vote as long as possible.
“The longer (the Irish government) stays in power, the greater the damage that is being done to the economy and to our international reputation. This government should go,” said Gerry Adams, leader of the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party.
Cowen rose to power as Ireland's 13-year Celtic Tiger economic boom was giving way to a property-market implosion and banking crisis. He has faced rising accusations in recent weeks of making decisions that benefited corrupt bankers far more than taxpayers, who have been burdened with a bank-rescue bill expected to top €50 billion.
The pressure for Cowen's removal flared last week when a new book revealed that Cowen held dinners and social events, including a day-long golf outing, with top bankers in the weeks before his government decided in September 2008 to insure all of the borrowings of Dublin banks.
That blanket guarantee failed to prevent most of those banks from facing collapse as their loan books- heavily exposed to runaway property markets in Ireland, Britain and the United States - began to suffer massive defaults.
Ireland has nationalised four of the six Irish-owned banks and repaid tens of billions to foreign bondholders, who normally would be expected to suffer losses when a bank fails.
Ireland spent two years trying to fund the bank bailouts itself, but the cost drove Ireland's 2010 deficit to 32 percent of gross domestic product, a postwar European record. Even excluding the exceptional bank-bailout costs, Ireland spent more than €50 billion last year but collected just €31 billion as unemployment soared and taxes from property sales slowed to a trickle.
In November, as the state-owned banks found themselves unable to borrow on open markets, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund stepped in to insist that Ireland negotiate a multiyear loan deal. Under terms of the deal, Ireland must slash €15 billion from its deficit spending over the coming four years and is imposing the harshest cuts this year.
The parliament has already approved bills that will slash welfare benefits and the minimum wage, raise school fees and cut the salaries of Cabinet ministers. But the toughest measures - to increase income taxes across the 2 million-strong work force, raising effective tax levels to 41 percent or more - have yet to be approved in the 2011 Finance Bill. - Sapa-AP
Comments by Sonny
Why does 'The Crown' not bail the Irish out of their debt?
Or is the Irish still being treated as 'second class citizens?'
The following is what an Irishman thinks of Irish charity for Africa!
This report by K. Myers appeared in an Irish newspaper "The Irish Independent."
AFRICA is giving nothing to anyone -- apart from AIDS
No. It will not do. Even as we see African states refusing to take action to restore something resembling civilisation in Zimbabwe, the begging bowl for Ethiopia is being passed around to us, yet again.
It is nearly 25 years since Ethiopia's (and Bob Geldof's) famous Feed The World campaign, and in that time Ethiopia's population has grown from 33.5 million to 78 million today.
So why on earth should I do anything to encourage further catastrophic demographic growth in that country? Where is the logic? There is none.
To be sure, there are two things saying that logic doesn't count.
One is my conscience, and the other is the picture, yet again, of another wide-eyed child, yet again, gazing, yet again, at the camera, which yet again, captures the tragedy of . . .
Sorry. My conscience has toured this territory on foot and financially. Unlike most of you, I have been to Ethiopia; like most of you, I have stumped up the loot to charities to stop starvation there.
The wide-eyed boy-child we saved, 20 years or so ago, is now a priapic, Kalashnikov-bearing hearty, siring children whenever the whim takes him.
There is, no doubt a good argument why we should prolong this predatory and dysfunctional economic, social and sexual system; but I do not know what it is. There is, on the other hand, every reason not to write a column like this.
It will win no friends, and will provoke the self-righteous wrath of, well, the self-righteous, hand wringing , letter -writing wrathful individuals, a species which never fails to contaminate almost every debate in Irish life with its sneers and its moral superiority. It will also probably enrage some of the finest men in Irish life, like John O'Shea, of Goal; and the Finucane brothers, men whom I admire enormously. So be it.
But, please, please, you self-righteously wrathful, spare me mention of our own Famine, with this or that lazy analogy. There is no comparison. Within 20 years of the Famine, the Irish population was down by 30pc. Over the equivalent period, thanks to western food, the Mercedes 10-wheel truck and the Lockheed Hercules, Ethiopia's has more than doubled.
Alas, that wretched country is not alone in its madness. Somewhere, over the rainbow, lies Somalia, another fine land of violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts.
Indeed, we now have almost an entire continent of sexually hyperactive, illiterate indigents, with tens of millions of people who only survive because of help from the outside world.
This dependency has not stimulated political prudence or commonsense.
Indeed, voodoo idiocy it seems to be in the ascendant, with the president of South Africa being a firm believer in the efficacy of a little tap water on the post-coital penis as a sure preventative against AIDS infection.
Needless to say, poverty, hunger and societal meltdown have not prevented idiotic wars involving Tigre, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea etcetera.
Broad brush-strokes, to be sure. But broad brush-strokes are often the way that history paints its gaudier, if more decisive, chapters.
Japan, China, Russia, Korea, Poland, Germany, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 20th century have endured worse broad brush-strokes than almost any part of Africa.
They are now -- one way or another -- virtually all giving aid to or investing in Africa, whereas Africa, with its vast savannahs and its lush pastures, is giving almost nothing to anyone, apart from AIDS.
Meanwhile, Africa's peoples are outstripping their resources, and causing catastrophic ecological degradation. By 2050, the population of Ethiopia will be 177 million: The equivalent of France, Germany and Benelux today, but located on the parched and increasingly protein-free wastelands of the Great Rift Valley.
So, how much sense does it make for us actively to increase the adult population of what is already a vastly over-populated, environmentally devastated and economically dependent country?
How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them? Of course, it might make you feel better, which is a prime reason for so much charity.! But that is not good enough.
For self-serving generosity has been one of the curses of Africa. It has sustained political systems which would otherwise have collapsed.
It prolonged the Eritrean-Ethiopian war by nearly a decade. It is inspiring Bill Gates' programme to rid the continent of malaria, when, in the almost complete absence of personal self-discipline, that disease is one of the most efficacious forms of population-control now operating.
If his programme is successful, tens of millions of children who would otherwise have died in infancy will survive to adulthood, he boasts.
Oh good: then what? I know. Let them all come here or America. Yes, that's an idea.
-AKA K Myers
Comments by Sonny
A great part of Tigre, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, has already
infiltrated South Africa!
Suppose they will also be given Asylum like those from Zimbabwe!