Unlock NAMA campaign launched in Ireland
Campaigners have temporarily occupied a NAMA-owned building in Dublin city centre to launch a new campaign that aims to lift the veil of secrecy from the controversial agency. The Unlock NAMA campaign wants to make empty NAMA buildings available for social and community use, to reveal details of all NAMA properties and assets and to challenge the culture of debt. The Campaign is supported by the IAI.
Mick O’Broin of Unlock NAMA said: “There’s been a lot of talk about putting empty NAMA buildings to good use. We’re making that idea a reality this weekend. The occupation of this unused building is a first step in our campaign to highlight Nama’s assets, the debt the agency has created and to work with others to develop alternatives.”
Gillian Barden of Unlock NAMA said: "Firstly, we will pull back the veil of secrecy Nama hides behind by identifying the assets it has and what is being done with them. We're going to be the watchdog Nama doesn’t want." "Secondly, we will work with anyone who wants to put existing Nama assets to social or cultural uses by helping to identify the Nama buildings in their local area and by supporting them in gaining access to those buildings. While NAMA is trying to make public funds available to bail out private banks, Unlock NAMA is going to help make public buildings available to the public." "Our final objective is to challenge debt. From the national debt generated by Nama to family mortgages, debt is robbing us of our individual and collective future. Debt is at the front line of exploitation and the undermining of democracy."
The walls of the occupied building that hosted to talks, workshops and films have been adorned with displays depicting the inner workings of the much misunderstood agency. "We want as many people as possible to drop in and participate in the discussion and in building an alternative approach to Nama and its assets. The damage that the financial system and property speculation have caused to our society is a problem for everyone to deal with – it’s not something we can leave to the accountants and bankers that make up Nama’s staff" said Thom McDermott of Unlock NAMA.
The campaigners claim they are certain that the building has indeed been ‘Nama-d’. Not only have the loans relating to the building been transferred to Nama, the agency has also appointed a receiver to manage the property. They claim the building is being allowed to fall into disrepair when it could be used for numerous purposes, a fact brought into sharper focus in the context of cutbacks to community and public services. One of the main problems raised by the campaigners is what they describe as the ‘narrow economic logic’ the agency employs in managing what are national assets. ‘Simply trying to make a fast buck out of property has gotten us nowhere as a society. These are our homes, our cities and our countryside’, said activist Moira Murphy. ’The cycle of austerity and debt offers us no future’, continued Moira Murphy.
The temporary occupation has been interrupted by the police who have ordered 70 members of the public to vacate a NAMA building in Dublin city centre. The police have threatened to enter the building at 4pm and charge everyone in the building with a series of offences.
The building was opened to the public on Saturday morning for a day of talks and events about Nama. The event has been very well-attended, peaceful and good-humoured.
Mick O'Broin of the Unlock NAMA campaign said: "The 70 or more people gathered here today feel outraged that police are threatening people who have come together to make use of what is effectively a publicly-owned building and who are seeking solutions to the unmitigated failure that is NAMA."
Unlock NAMA has three main demands:
1) Make NAMA properties available for social and community use
2) Publish full addresses and details on all properties under NAMA
3) Publish full details on all sales of NAMA assets
Banks get the money, we get the toxic debt
In 2008, a property bubble generated a banking crisis that led to one of the worst economic crises in Irish history. During the crisis, NAMA (National Assets Management Authority) was set up to take over the ‘toxic’ property loans from the banks. Property-related loans became risky assets following the crash in property value. NAMA was supposed to inject money into the banks in order to stabilize them and so they could start lending again. But NAMA has failed to stabilize the banks and they have required further recapitalization (taxpayers giving them money) and nationalization.
NAMA identified the property-related loans held by the participating banks. These loans were causing chaos in the banks because the value of property was collapsing, making it unlikely that the loans would be paid back. NAMA takes these ‘toxic loans’ from the banks’ hands, and in exchange gives them €32 billion. NAMA is thought to have the largest property portfolio in the world.
The NAMA legislation (NAMA Act 2009) says that one of NAMA’s purposes is to “contribute to the social and economic development of the state”. This has not happened. NAMA has made no attempt to do anything other than bailout banks, repossess assets, and then leave them idle or sell them on the cheap.
NAMA crystallizes the worst dynamics in Europe today:
• It socializes bank losses, creating insurmountable public debt which is paid of by pillaging public services and creating a social crisis
• It acts like a property speculator, managing its assets in pure economic terms despite the fact that NAMA’s assets are our homes, our cities and our countryside.
• NAMA hides behind secrecy, it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
NAMA assets were paid for by everyone and they should belong to everyone. Many of these assets are idle or being run at a loss. They should be used by citizens for social and public projects. Fighting NAMA means fighting for a future beyond property speculation and debt. NAMA is giving €32 billion to the banks, this 32 billion becomes debt for the Irish people.
Few facts on NAMA: the largest property portfolio in the world
- NAMA is a bailout for property speculators, in many instances they will pay less than 50% of their loans back.
- The 3 top developers in NAMA are responsible for €8.4 billion of the debt
- NAMA is paying over 100 rogue developers for maintaining and developing properties, in some cases up to €200,000 a year.
- NAMA and the National Treasury Management Agency (NAMA’s parent agency) there are 16 people on over €200,000 per year
- Enda Kenny, the current Prime Minister, while in opposition, described NAMA as ‘another blank cheque to bailout the banks’.
- Labour’s 2011 election manifesto says: “Labour has been consistently opposed to the NAMA project because it represents an unacceptably high and irreversible risk to the tax payer” “Labour will seek to capture some public good from NAMA by identifying buildings that have no commercial potential, and which might be suitable as local facilities for art and culture” (Labour 2011 election manifesto)
FOR MORE INFO, CONTACT:
Moira Murphy +353 83 0061888
Mick O’Broin +353 86 8496054
Thom McDermott +353 87 6267981