Dublin: Children’s Right To Education Must Not Be Sacrificed To Pay-Off EU/IMF Debt

9 Feb

BRIAN MOONEY : Writing In THE IRISH TIMES:

TALKBACK: Let’s get back to first principles – education is a human right:

LET’S GET back to first principles when it comes to education and the election. The United Nations Charter on Human Rights guarantees everyone the right to education, the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment.

These rights are fundamental to human dignity, and cannot be withdrawn from any human being, no matter what the circumstances.

By forcing the Irish taxpayer to shoulder the entire burden, plus interest, of the reckless lending of the EU banking system, to the even more reckless Irish banks, the ECB in Frankfurt is in danger of undermining at least two of the principals of the charter, established following the horrendous abuse of basic human rights which occurred under German authority during the Nazi era.

Nobody denies that we in Ireland have to reduce our government deficit, so that we are living within our means, or that we have to accept sovereign responsibility for the actions of our banks and regulators.

But, as Joe Higgins has pointed out recently, there was a huge design fault in the Euro project from day one, which made the consequent events in peripheral member states almost inevitable.

Therefore, before we get to the point where the burden of our national debt, imposed on us at the insistence of Germany, begins to undermine our government’s capacity to adhere to the terms of both Articles 23 and 26 of the Charter on Human Rights, we need to identify what level of our own taxes must be ring-fenced so that our basic human rights to education, health, employment and social security are preserved and maintained.

We must of course ensure that we are fully implementing the terms of the public sector reforms, agreed under the Croke Park agreement, so that both our education and health systems and our employment support service, are delivered in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. We must also honour the terms of our four-year recovery plan, so that we very quickly restore our economy and society to sustainable growth.

Having delivered on those commitments, we as a people can then identify what proportion of the billions of bank debt we can afford to service and eventually repay, while maintaining the basic entitlements of all our people to human dignity as outlined in the full Charter of Human Rights.

It is not acceptable that any guarantees given by our Government to bank bond holders, on the basis of incomplete information in September 2008, or any agreement made by our Government with the IMF and ECB to fully repay those debts, can result in the reduction in the quality of education services to an Irish child or adult.

If it does, it will put them at a distinct disadvantage when compared to a German citizen, who benefits from the education services facilitated by the repayment to German banks by Irish taxpayers, of such debts.

Whoever is elected to government must quickly establish and outline the extent to which Ireland can contribute to resolving the current crisis within the Euro zone, while respecting the human rights of every person to education, health, employment and social protection.

These rights as established by the United Nations in 1948 take precedence over any international agreements.


Brian Mooney is a teacher at Oatlands College, Stillorgan, Co Dublin.

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