December 14th 09
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TAOISEACH.
In ‘A Christmas Carol’ Mr. Scrooge provides a Christmas bonus to Bob Crachit, Tiny Tim and their family; increases Bob’s take home pay, and sets about improving his working conditions. It’s a heart warming story of compassion overcoming greed.
In the Irish government version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ the Christmas bonus for the disadvantaged is axed; the take home pay of workers is cut; and there is no compassion for poorer communities. It is the workers who are being forced to bear the burden of an economic crisis made significantly worse for citizens by an incompetent government.
There were alternative measures that could have been taken. This Blog set out some of them in recent weeks. They include the need for those who can afford to pay more to do so. They require substantial investment to be directed into job creation and the public services. These are common sense measures, properly costed and affordable, that could begin to turn the economy around. They have been ignored.
Last Wednesday’s budget was a wasted opportunity. Unless you are a banker or developer or wealthy business person. Your Christmas will be very festive indeed. Our Finance Minister, Mr.Lenihan has protected you. This government has robbed the poor to give to the rich. It is selfishly stuck in its narrow ideology. This means taking from workers and the disadvantaged, while protecting its own interests and those within the golden circles.
There is nothing from Fine Gael to suggest that they would be any better than the current incumbents.
This blog has travelled widely throughout this island. There is another Ireland out there. Many communities are held together by volunteer workers in the community or voluntary sector. By carers. By people who give of their time not only for their families but for other families. For young people. For the elders. For people with disabilities. For the disadvantaged. For those who have no one.
Others work for the environment. For decent accessible health services. Or schools. Against poverty. For affordable housing.
These people work in our sporting organisations. In the trade union movement. In credit unions. In the Irish language movement. In campaign groups. In local residents or tenants assocations. They are active in rural and urban areas. In fishing communities as well as among our farmers. In inner city slums as well as remote townlands. Many of them do not see themselves as political. They are alienated from politics. They see politics as corrupt. Many believe that politicians are about feathering their own nests or working in party political interests.
But they also know that they are better than the Ireland we live in today.
Many citizens know this. The problem is they see no way of shaping that new Ireland. They are angry at the Government. Some are angry beyond words. This Blog suspects this is because they voted for the government parties. So they feel betrayed. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.
When this blog writes about building alternatives that doesn’t mean counting up the figures between what passes for the left in Leinster House. That may come in time. Indeed it must come in time. But for now it means working, even informally, to bring about the widest consensus of all those good decent citizens who work every day, north and south, to build a better Ireland. That means working for change here and now, based on citizens rights. In the south it means resisting this government. And getting rid of it. And in the process building a real alternative.
This Blog and the family of Harry Holland met recently with the British Attorney General about Harry, a small shop keeper who was brutally murdered. As regular readers will know Harry was a family man, much loved in his west Belfast community. His killers were sentenced earlier this year. One of those sentenced was Patrick Crossan who received a derisory four year sentence. This was one of the matters the family raised with the Attorney General and the representatives of the Public Prosecution Service. Just before this meeting Crossan was arrested again by the PSNI in respect of car theft.
This week he was released on bail. This decision has outraged the people of west Belfast who resent serial offenders being treated leniently by the judicial authorities. It is further evidence, if such were needed, why it is important that policing and justice powers, including the right to make legislation on these issues, is transferred to locally elected politicians.