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Saturday afternoon - Tom Johnson Summer School

Posted on June 15, 2013 at 04:51 PM

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In this post Labour Youth's Sean Glennon blogs about 'The Illegitimate Debt' panel, featuring Jean Sommers, from UCD, Emer Costello MEP and Rita Fagan, Community Development Coordinator for St Michael's Estate.

Our third panel of the Tom Johnson Summer School was on Debt; the Illegitimate Burden. First up was Jean Somers, lecture in the UCD School of Social Justice and former coordinator of the Debt and Development Coalition. Jean began by outlining how debt has maintained the unequal relationship between the Global North and South. Examples of how a country acquires illegitimate debt included undemocratic governments borrowing money used to oppress their own people and if servicing the debt would cause a country to fail to uphold its social responsibility to its citizens. Though it wasn’t all bleak as examples were shown of how Norway became the first ever country to accept creditor responsibility in relation to debts owed to it by Southern countries who’s development was being impaired by servicing of debt. Also how small countries have challenged the global consensus, such as when Ecuador refused to pay unjust debt. 

Brining the impact of debt to a more local level, Rita Fagan, of St Michael’s Estate Community Development, was the next speaker. Rita told the summer school of how communities have been burdened by Ireland’s banking debt and how women, families and young people were being disproportionately affected by the policies being pursued by the prevailing neo-liberal economic model. A moving talk detailed the importance of preserving community infrastructure that is now under threat. Rita finished by calling on people to rally against the strength of capital and challenge the oppression being imposed on them.

Finally, Leader of the Labour Group in the European Parliament, Emer Costello MEP brought the conversation to the need to create a social Europe. Acknowledging the burden of Ireland’s banking debt and the toll its taking on Irish people, Emer credited the Government for helping to relieve that burden through meeting our obligations and negotiating with our European partners. Calling on Europeans to be Citizens rather than consumers, Emer outlined how we need to reform our institutions and forge a European Banking Union to strengthen solidarity amongst member states.

With illegitimate debt stifling development of the global south and the continuing impact Irelands banking debt will have this proved to be one of the most relevant and interesting panels this weekend.

 

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