Thursday, February 3, 2011

A New Ireland

Dear Editor,
We are blaming the wrong people for this financial mess Ireland is in! It is the National and International Financial gangsters who have caused this crisis. Our politicians are the scapegoats. These are the people we recently elected from our communities to represent us. We all enjoyed the benefits of the Celtic Tiger. Many are delighted with the fantastic road network developed, the generous social welfare we receive, and the general improvement in the standard of living, cars, foreign holidays etc. The crazy international financial pyramid scheme, moving large amounts of non-existent money around is coming to an end. The bubble is likely to burst.

Ireland is a wonderful nation, with a wonderful workforce, and a very solid education system. The frontline teams in our hospitals, factories and farms are second to none.

Did we ask our public representatives to slow the tiger, reduce the availability of credit, so that we could not buy better houses, cars, and other luxuries? Some commentators did try to warn people that it could not continue, but were silenced.

We are entering a new age. The transition will be difficult, and will last for some years. There will be hunger, riots, enormous change.
It is coinciding with the reduction in the supply of cheap oil, that ‘black stuff’ that was around for 100 years. A whole new plan, new vision is now needed, as we develop new ways of growing food and producing energy. Ireland must now concentrate on National Food and Energy Security.

Here in West Cork we probably have approximately 6 days food supply, other than milk, meat, and fish. So Nationally we probably have about 4 days food reserves. And we have about a few weeks fuel supply, other than some scarce gas reserves. In round terms we import about €5 billion of food and €10 billion of energy annually. The latter is over 90% of what we consume. This is not sustainable. When these imports get scarcer and more expensive Ireland will be in a very vulnerable position. Or, we could prepare in order to avoid this eventuality!

Ireland can produce all of the energy and food it needs (see The BioPower Report, library section ), and we can import some exotic food. We now need to go ‘bald-headed’ towards developing renewable energy infrastructure and sustainable food production. However we must learn from past over-engineered mistakes, and be clever about driving these industries forward.

Major Governmental changes are now necessary to make real change happen. Retraining will be necessary, as micro-generation of energy will be more important that macro-generation. We need to get away from the perceived need for massive infrastructure for energy and water conveyance. Long delays to grid connection and planning permission must be sorted, while still giving people adequate time to have their say. We need to toughen up to the EU somewhat, and become decision makers, not decision takers. We need to be able to act and react fast and efficiently within National Government, Civil Service, and Local Government.

Ireland must now prepare for a sudden absence of international finance, be that induced or imposed. If any country in the world can become virtually self-sufficient in energy and food Ireland can. We have all the elements needed to make this happen. Let’s take away any obstacles. More than 80,000 jobs can be created in the renewable energy industry alone, and tens of thousands of jobs will be created developing our food production industry. This can be done, it must be done!

Blaming our politicians is blaming ourselves. Let’s now change, work together, develop sensible sustainable secure industries. Let’s stop trusting the International financial gamblers, and let’s stop bailing them out. Let’s feed our children, not theirs!

Yours sincerely,
Walter Ryan-Purcell,
Co. Cork.


  1. Walter I am astounded by your view that “we are blaming the wrong people for the financial mess we are in, that our politicians are scapegoats and that the real culprits are the national and international financiers who caused the crisis”.

    Let’s be clear. The financial crisis in Ireland is first not a result of global international financial markets. The crisis is entirely home-grown and a consequence of poor fiscal policies and mistaken political measures taken by our government and politicians during a historic period of low borrowing costs and currency stability between 2000 and 2007. Let’s be under no illusion that the financial crisis was overseen by politicians, whose policy was to favour light touch regulation. It was politicians who appointed individuals to the boards of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator. It was politicians who made approximately 6,000 other similar appointments to the boards of semi-state bodies in addition to 800 quangos. In every such case filling unadvertised vacancies not open to competition or scrutiny, jobs for the boys were handed out like candy on Hallowe’en. No wonder our country and institutions have been lead to ruin by a failed and bankrupt political system.

    When the crisis hit it was our esteemed politicians and their appointees who told us it was a liquidity problem when the banks were actually insolvent. The actions of our Government to provide a universal bank guarantee and transfer the debt of insolvent private banks such as Anglo Irish to the public taxpayer was a political decision, one that had disastrous consequences for the citizens of the Irish State. To save the banks our politicians created the National Asset Management Agency more commonly know as NAMA and made private debt public by enacting legislation in the Oireachtas effectively making the taxpayer take on worthless toxic debt. Over the last 10 years as a consequence of government policies we have expanded our total debt levels from €200 Billion Euro to over €800 Billion. Do our politicians not understand that a working population of 1.8 million people cannot sustain this level of public and private debt? Do our politicians not understand why this makes our bailout problem, negociated by Irish politicians with the IMF and ECB so laughable and sad? Do our politicians not understand that once we have funded the bailout, whose interest payment alone stands at €6billion next year, it will be impossible to adequately fund any of the social programmes to help those people who are going to suffer the most in the years ahead?

    What caused this crisis was a government and politicians blind to the risks. Were they paying any attention at all? Did our politicians understand the possible consequences of encouraging a housing boom by providing massive property tax breaks for developers and poor planning policies at local government level that would lead to an oversupply of houses, hotels and commercial property on a massive scale? The result being over 300,000 empty houses nationwide, hundreds of unfinished housing estates, tens of thousands of families in negative equity and mortgage default with hundreds of thousands unemployed. We now have, as a consequence of political decisions, the third highest unemployment rate in the OECD with 35% of our population under 30years of age unemployed and the highest emigration since the 1980s, all a direct result of recent political decisions. It’s easy to see who the real culprits are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  2. Hello Citizen X,
    I agree in a lot of what you write, which mostly concerns the so-called 'celtic tiger' and the poor decisions that were made to rectify it. But go back a step and research why it all happened. Internationally every mortgage is 'laid-off' about twenty times. So if you have a mortgage of €200,000 with an Irish Bank, that bank (like a bookie would do) has 'laid-off' approximately 90% of that amount, as does the second financial institution, the third, the fifteenth, to the twentieth. So now the your debt of €200,000 on that property at best valued at €200,000, now has an artificial debt on it in the order of €1.2 million. This is the international pyramid scheme that is likely to burst, as it is entirely false. These are the activities the national and international fraudsters that I mentioned. The international ones provided all of this credit, the national ones took the credit, and we borrowed the money. The banks took it, we took it. These fraudsters 'ran rings' around us and our Government, our politicians. Yes we were all in this together. When it 'hit the fan' the 'horse had bolted' (sorry for all of these expressions, buts it's the easiest way of explaining it) the financial damage was done, and our senior politicians tried started on their damage limitation, NAMA, bank guarantees, IMF etc. Too little, too late. Some firebrigade stuff, then EU taking control, the latter to try to halt complete EU, and probably, world financial collapse.
    Like in any pyramid scheme, it all works grand on the way up, when there is 'growth', cheap money, based on cheap commodities, cheap oil. Now we are post peak oil, the cheap fuel fuelling the financial pyramid is beginning to crack. People are still talking about 'growth', the fact is they should realise it will be 'contraction'. Again I mean globally, not the results of the last quarter in Ireland.
    People think China is a powerful state, however they are hugely reliant on the US to whom they have lent unthinkable amounts of their money. I recently read that it will take €100 trillion to sort the international crisis. Where does this come from?!
    So you might see where I am coming from, trying to promote food and energy security in Ireland, just in case the world financial system does actually collapse sooner than later.
    I thought the whole property business in ireland was absolutely crazy. I was full sure it was going to collapse around 2005, I couldn't believe it lasted so long.
    Politicians in Ireland, Europe and elsewhere are now beginning to realise what's been going on, and trying to selotape up the cracks. The greedy financial fraudsters have created it all, not your local FF politician! In the 'good times' when the 'funny money' was flowing yes the politicians in Ireland gave jobs to the boys, and quangos were set up, many of which actually helped out a lot of people. But now people lik to forget that, scapegoat the politicians, many of whom did an enormous amount of work for the people in their constituencies. Now the 'empty vessels' are being heard, shouting for 'change'! all I'm hearing from the opposition is the same old clap trap promises which are completely without foundation, and mostly completely unworkable, and out of their control to re-negotiate. And people like you thinking that "The crisis is entirely home-grown and a consequence of poor fiscal policies and mistaken political measures taken by our government and politicians during a historic period of low borrowing costs ...". I suggest that our new Government concentrates on food and energy security for Ireland! Walter

  3. Hi walter, I tried to post my reply but it asked me to “choose profile” and I have no idea what that means.

    So here it is. Could you post it for me please, or tell me what I am supposed to do. Keep up the good work. Rob.

    My post:

    From Rob.

    Well done Walter. You are right on the money, in more ways than one. Citizen X (?) you are quite wrong about the crisis being "entirely home-grown". Almost all countries in the world are facing similar if slightly less immediate crises. Even China is beginning to wobble. The Greeks are blaming their doctors for not paying taxes, in Iceland they are blaming the cowboy banks, and so it goes on. And be certain that the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt and the others that will follow are also symptoms of the collapse of cpaitalism and the inability of US dollars to buy the world they choose.

    The real problem lies within the system itself. The pyramid scheme of Freemarket Capitalism claims to be the motor behind the so-called miracle of growth. That is an illusion, the motor of growth has been oil. And cheap oil. And the days of cheap oil are over. And now the inherently fantastical nature of finance, that creates money and wealth in some sleight of hand that most resembles alchemy is exposed for the fraud that it is.

    Certainly our government contributed. They had access to the figures and the advisers and their duty of care to us all was hideously neglected by stupidity, hubris and greed. They have sold our children's futures to buy an ugly and greedy present. Our financial sector also played its part, in ways we are now all familiar with. And as for "jobs for the bhoys"!

    You are quite right that we cannot sustain a debt that is actually close to 1 trillion. and it will become even more unmanageable as the vast quatities of money printed and bonds issued really hit the market and unleash a tidal wave of inflation (c/f Weimar and Zimbabwe for money printing). Imagine the state of the country and of individual people's finances when interest rates double or treble as they surely will. And what kind of country turfs people out of their homes when there are hundreds of thousands of empty houses anyway?

    Solution? Default on all our foreign debt. Re-establish the punt. Spend credit free money on such social spending as we can truly afford. Borrow no more money. Simplify and draw on the strengths of our land and our people. Tame the beast of capitalism once and for all. It is a minotaur that will destroy the planet and eat our children anyway, with its insatiable appetite for growth in consumption and production. It had to be tamed and why shouldn't we be the first to take those difficult but essential steps. It would be a hard road, but not as hard as the road that we will tread when the system crashes, as it surely will.

    Keep talking. It helps.


  4. from Caroline...

    Walter, I read your note this morning. It should not surprise any of us that the movers and shakers of the established political parties are pretty much playing the blame game, accepting little or no responsibility for the financial and moral situation we are in, and not putting forth real solutions to either our economic (jobs/banking) troubles, moral issues(turning off heat for those who can't afford it whilst offering grants for those in good houses to upgrade their energy efficiency), or immigration concerns. Whilst it's good to go outside one's country for a couple of years at a young age to work(this is the only way you really get to know a culture I feel), the knowledge that they may have to stay away is not encouraging. Obviously it's a brain drain, but it's more than that: it contributes to the already down, defeatest attitude.
    To be honest, I don't know what it will take to get folks angry enough to do something. Talk is abounding, action is not. There are fantastic folks with great ideas around. More of us would like to be involved, but are often living so hand to mouth we can't attend the meetings, forums, etc., and thusly, are not included in initiatives which might make a difference(such as the food college, the entreprenural group you are involved in).
    Yes, we need action. I've been a DRE(damned radical environmentalist, as we were termed in the 70's) for a long time, understand the need to get away from oil( the current Egyptian crisis should highlight it again, but I doubt folks will really cop on), understand the need to conserve all our resources( I come from a dry state, where water conservation is second nature), grow locally,live sustainably. It took dramatic action in Wyoming to prevent some detrimental, irreversible actions, but, and this is a large but, when times are tough, folks don't want to hear about that. They can't pay their bills, they are losing their homes, never mind their self esteem when they lost their jobs and are living hand to mouth as many of us are in spite of university degrees,the future is so bleak suicide is an ever redeeming option.
    If there is to be a movement for change, it has to focus firstly on immediate relief for the 40-60 year olds who have contributed for years to this country, as native citizens and naturalized ones, with jobs the immediate focus. Most of us in that age range equate work with self esteem, the very necessary ability to pay our way, and the sense of hope that comes with paying our bills, setting something aside. Then and only then can we have the time and heart to take on thelarger issues of the day. It's not that we don't care now, it's just that we're hurting, and tired physically and emotionally, working all hours just to keep our selfs in our homes( if we're lucky) and fed.

  5. from Michael Burke ..

    What can I say?.What can I do?.We here in Ireland and in the west have a drag every where we turn in attempting to generate economic activity.
    Is there a minimum wage in China.Yes but it is so low relative to Ireland and Europe.
    Can we compete in the production of Hard goods? No. Sorry Rethorical question.
    However I believe that we could set up a college to teach English to all of the Chinese who wish to learn it every year.Is there any list available in west Cork of all the graduates with a teaching qualification who are idle right now,or who work part time ,and would be happy to work extended hours.
    I believe Clonakilty would be the perfect setting for this institution.
    #You fly in 150 Chinese every year and give them culture ,landscape ,food and perfect english on departure.
    We have a very burdensome social welfare system.Does it do what it was intended to do.China does not have this drag.
    Remember if you put 1000 euro in a pension policy this year it will take 12 for the amount to double at 6% per year.
    I think we are in an era where everything we took for granted is at an end.
    Why in this day and age do we not have an electric public service bus running from Schull to Cork.?Answer petrol is too cheap. Does a stream run down through Schull village which would power microgenerators to drive this bus and electric cars for the locality.
    If there is one thing in west cork that sets us apart from the rest of the world it is the amount of rain we get.I would love to bottle water from my spring wells but where do I start?
    There are pages of regulations which seems strange when the general population drinks chlorinated water while health experts cannot agree on its safety.
    Its impossible to do anything in Ireland the laws are loaded against enterprize.
    Despite the fact that west Cork is the home of traditional music one town In China now controls for 30% of the world Fiddle market.They have spent 20 years getting to this level of successful production.Why do we not have a boat building school ?.I am sure ther eare people all over the world who would pay well to learn this craft.
    Why after all this time do we have an N71 from Ballydehob to Clonakilty with such a poor surface.
    There are relatively few potholes from Clonakilty to Cork but we over this end have to contend with ,and get around Mineshafts in our daily commutes,Recently I have been informed that Cork County Council are the agency who are charged with the task of maintenance of this route.
    To be continued
    Michael Burke

  6. Hi Walter, you are correct in saying we took the money provided by internbational financiers, principally from the ecb at the lowest interest rates ever provided. What we did with it however was entirely our own doing. Our politicians invested billions in a black hole, instead of taking this money or even a small part of it and investign it in making ireland food and energy self sufficient we invested it in systems that continue our addiction to fossil fuels, in motarways with no service stations, in funding quangos, in property which was the biggest pyramid scheme in this country in peat and gas power stations, in public private partnerships that only benefitted the private sector. Our politicians continue these policies subsidising automobile ownership while reducing funding for public transport. For a fraction of the money borrowed we could have developed a truelly inspirational republic fit for the 21st century providing a shining light of how to live a sustainable way of life. We would have been energy and food self sufficient with a fully employed populationn living in modern energy efficient homes. Politicians refused to legislate for energy effient homes until after the boom was over, this was a another political decision to favour the building industry allowing them hreater profits. now the state is proviging funding to retrofit homes to make them energy efficient. One could go on and on with hindreds of such examples, all down to poor political leadership or complete lack of more correctly. I remember debating with the Minister for Environment in the 1987 whoes position was at that time that their was no future for renewable energy in ireland. I was agast at the lack of knowledge and vision amongst our politicans then and still am today. All of this is in the past and we now need to look forward but cannot as we are now shackled with a level of debt due to recent political decisions. This debt will limit any growth in sustainable development in this country in the years ahead. Perhaps the only way of addressing this and this time is either open revolution by the people or a modern socialist democracy where we work for each other and the future generation for the next 10yrs to bring about the change and state investment in critical infrastructure, education, agriculture and healthcare. Only a community working together will get us out of this mess, right now we appear to be working for our own self interests.
    Just a final point, Ireland is the worst performer from a financial management perspective of any european nation. Lack of political leadership and having nothing better than local councillors as parliamentarians who dont understand their brief. We elected them but now we need to ensure that the rules of the game are changed and we get real political reform.

    Citizen X: Declan Waugh.

  7. Walter seems to be to be on the money, but no amount of rhetoric, anger or trying to pin down the blame is going to generate food and energy security, which is indeed the important bit. Neither will I be waiting with baited breath for the new Government to do so, whoever forms its membership.
    I have been pegging away for a couple of years now at a little project to address the twin issues, on the fisheries side (see ), however I am totally frustrated so far. Is there anyone out there who would like to participate in a new heave? Joe Aston.

  8. ps I tried to put in a link to my website (where 'see' appears in brackets) - to the WCSFG page on - but the software deleted it somehow! Joe.

  9. I read somewhere earlier about a banner in UK which read "If the Environment were a Bank, it would have been saved by now"

  10. Someone also suggested that instead of pouring the entirety of Irelands resources into a black hole, if we instead gifted every man woman and child in the country with a million euro the economic crisis would end immediately! We would all have plenty of time to plant up our gardens, mend the roads and if we really felt like action, follow the footsteps of the Egyptians and take to the streets until our Government properly becomes OURS again and not just some bunch of ostriches intent only in feathering their own nests!
    Furthermore, the sheer lack of imagination shown by those seeking power this time round as reflected in their dreadful and predictably dull choice of campaign posters makes me groan with absolute boredom and despair and I'm inclined to agree that the political species rhyming with faeces is the only thing about the whole situation that makes me smile.

  11. Hi Joe,
    will you be at the meeting in Skibb on Friday night? I would like to chat to you about your twin issues on food and energy security.