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'Greece should drop the euro - and so should Ireland'

Ballyhea Says No began marching against the Irish bailout in 2011.

Diarmuid O'Flynn (centre)
Diarmuid O'Flynn (centre)
Image: Facebook

EVERY SUNDAY SINCE 6 March 2011, a group of people have marched in Cork in protest against Ireland’s bailout.

Crowds gather in the village of Ballyhea and the town of Charleville on alternate weekends. They have done so for over four years – or 228 weeks.

That’s a lot of marching.

The demonstrators are members of Ballyhea Says No – which has vowed to not stop its protest until “debt justice” has been achieved.

Recently the group made its fourth trip to the European Parliament (EP), after being invited by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) parliamentary group via Irish MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.

Sinn Féin and Greece’s Syriza are also members of GUE/NGL.

Diarmuid O’Flynn is one of the Ballyhea Says No’s organisers. He’s also a parliamentary assistant to Flanagan and former hurling writer with the Irish Examiner.

O’Flynn told TheJournal.ie the group’s trip was “overshadowed” by the ongoing situation in Greece, as well as EP discussions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but he was still “very pleased with how things went”.

He said the purpose of the group’s visit was to dispel some “half-truths” about Ireland.

“Far from Ireland being poster boys for austerity, the people have suffered grievously.”

Protest week 227 - Ballyhea bondholder bailout protest | Facebook The Ballyhea Says No delegation at the European Parliament. Source: Facebook

O’Flynn said he accepts the bailout and bank guarantee were implemented to save “save the eurozone and possibly even the EU itself”.

However, he said it doesn’t make sense that the European Central Bank (ECB) is buying €60 billion-worth of bonds each month until September 2016 as part of its quantitative easing programme while Ireland has to destroy tens of billions of euro worth of bonds.

Ballyhea Says No is in the process of establishing a task force which will focus on ending the sale of the promissory note bonds, with the aim being either their total destruction or holding them in the Central Bank until they all “die a natural death”.

O’Flynn said it was a “hugely progressive step” that Fine Gael’s four MEPs also attended their presentation.

“We didn’t get blown out of the water. They didn’t tell us we were wasting our time. We’re going to have another meeting with them, probably in Ballyhea.”

This is not a party political issue, this is a national issue. It’s not just about this generation, it’s about future generations - the next two or three generations of Irish people.

The group has asked MEPs to support its goal of stopping the sale of the promissory note bonds.

Greece

O’Flynn has been keeping a close eye on the ongoing economic tumult in Greece. The country submitted an austere new bailout plan to its eurozone creditors on Thursday night. This is currently being studied by eurozone ministers before a summit of all 28 European Union leaders tomorrow.

Ultimately, O’Flynn thinks Greece and Ireland would be better off if they both left the eurozone.

“The EMU (Economic and Monetary Union) was not going to work … it was a stupid idea. These economies are just too disparate, too different … Any economist would tell you it wouldn’t work.”

Even if Greece do continue in the eurozone they’re going to continue to have problems, all smaller economies will. My heart goes out to the Greek people. I think they would be better off out of the euro. I think we would better off out of it as well.

Read: Here’s what is Greece is willing to do for more money

Column: We won’t stop marching until the ECB returns Ireland’s money

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