Veteran civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson

Read more: New York Times calls for Ireland to renegotiate debt

Read more: Irish political parties make promises they can't afford to keep

Veteran civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson is in Ireland this week and he believes the Irish poor are being forced to pay the cost of the bailout.

In an interview with The Irish Times Jackson said:

“You must link the bailout to lending, reinvestment and job creation,” he says. “Rather than have banks that are too big to fail you need to have more community-based banks where you democratise capital. This is a great chance . . . to restructure the economic order from the bottom up.”

“In Dublin you were forced to take an €85 billion bailout from the EU and the IMF. Those who were not properly regulated and were greedy in their speculations were the first beneficiaries of the bailout, yet they were the ones that created the crisis. You can’t reward them for lack of regulation and greedy speculation.

“There are many similarities between the US and Ireland in how this bailout is being handled. No country has been spared from the global economic crisis, and governments are attempting to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor.”

Jackson says his trip to Ireland is to show solidarity with those struggling since the bank crisis.

“I want to be part of this campaign to defend equality in the midst of massive government cutbacks resulting from the economic crisis and the latest austerity budget.”

Jackson told The Irish Times he remains  a strong supporter of President Obama.
“He is grabbing the tiger by the tail. I think he has done a good job. But he has met stubborn resistance all the way. One congressman called him a liar. They have challenged his place of birth and challenged his religion,” says Jackson, “The race part was covered up and coded, but that was part of it.”

He said people in Ireland have to be wary of scapegoating.“During economic downturns people tend to turn on one another,” he says. “I’m aware of the Travellers group in Ireland, and what they have gone through; also how the Africans and blacks that have come in have faced problems . . . A great society embraces the immigrant population and the poor.”

Read more: New York Times calls for Ireland to renegotiate debt

Read more: Irish political parties make promises they can't afford to keep