THE ANTI-AUSTERITY campaign group, Claiming Our Future, has proposed a €15 billion economic stimulus which it claims can work within the parameters of Ireland’s bailout agreement and would not initially involve repudiating the country’s bank debt.
Plan B was launched yesterday by the group being fronted by a number of prominent public figures including former Dáil candidate and left-wing activist Rory Hearne and the CEO of Barnardos Fergus Finlay.
One of the group’s founders, Migrant Rights Centre director Siobhán O’Donoghue, has admitted that its proposals for the stimulus are not fully formed at this stage with policies being developed by Nevin Institute director Tom Healy.
However, it would likely involve accessing funds from the National Pensional Reserve Fund and using some semi-state companies to borrow money from international markets, she said. Some form of write down of the bank debt would also eventually be involved.
Plan B also envisages a more progressive taxation system that would involve taxing those with more wealth and higher incomes as well as protecting essential public services.
O’Donoghue, who helped found Claiming Our Future in 2010, said that the proposal was about building a groundswell of support from around the country: “This is a people’s campaign, the people of this country have been sold a message that there is no hope, no future.
“Our objective is to start a national conversation where people are able to understand their options and know there are options and put pressure on our political representatives.”
The plan also proposes the much-talked about financial transaction tax which it says would raise €500 million annually. The government is strongly opposed to the measure believing it would affect jobs at the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin.
O’Donoghue says that the group’s short-term goal is the budget in December and ensuring its interests are protected adding that people in the country have a right to demand an alternative to austerity in Ireland.
“One of the predominant feelings out there is the sense of helplessness, dis-empowerment, rights and choices being taken from people,” she said.
If we don’t instill a sense of empowerment and belief in the people, who are hanging on by their fingertips, that they have capacity and right to make a demand that this society and government make decisions that actually give them a safety net then I don’t know what democracy is about.
Despite the group claiming that their plan would fit within the parameters of the memorandum of understanding with the Troika, it has no plans to meet with representatives of the bailout partners to put forward their ideas.
“Our priority – because this hasn’t happened – is mobilising people of this country to be part of that process (of decision making), to be part of conversations with local TDs, at parliamentary party meetings, in the media, on the airwaves,” she said.
“We need to force a national conversation about the direction this country is going in and absolutely bust this myth that austerity is working and is the only solution,” she added.
Rory Hearne speaking at the launch of Plan B yesterday: