Tuesday, April 7, 2009


April 7th 09


This blog is airborne. I’m tapping away at the laptop on route to the Middle East and reflecting on Sundays Family Day at the Visteon factory in Belfast where sacked workers are occupying the site. They are campaigning for their rights. The Family Day was a huge success. Many thanks to Féile an Phobal and all the performers who helped make this a very enjoyable act of solidarity with the work force and their families. And congratulations to all the families who turned up. Children and grand children as well as spouses and grand parents enjoyed the days craic and the real sense of community which underpinned the occasion. All eyes are now on Wednesday meeting in New York between senior union officials and the Vesteon’s senior management.


Before that the Fianna Fáil/ Greens Coalition government will have revealed yet another budget. Tuesday is D Day and punters are anxiously waiting to see what pain is planned for them. I flew out from Dublin and quite a number of people stopped me in the airport to make disparaging remarks about the government. The anger following recent revelations about the golden circles and cronyism between the political establishment and their friends in financial institutions and some developers is still palpable. And so it should be. The wealth of the Celtic Tiger should have been used intelligently and strategically to build public services. Instead it was wasted. Greed instead of public need ruled the boom years and successive governments actively encouraged and promoted that. As usual the ordinary citizen
suffers. And then we are expected to pay for it as well. No wonder people are angry.


By all accounts Fine Gael had a good Ard Fheis at the weekend. Fair play to them. Someone said to me that party leader, Enda Kenny couldn’t run a bath. That’s not fair. He has succeeded in renewing and revitalising Fine Gael. Their party had the biggest gains in the last general election but that was overshadowed by the Fianna Fáil electoral tsunami. So Enda doesn’t get much credit for the rise of Fine Gael. Outside of his own party faithful. But despite this there is a danger that a snap election could see voters who want change voting for Fine Gael to get rid of Fianna Fáil. Then we would be in even more trouble once the punters find out that there is little if any difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on social and economic issues.. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me and all that. They both represent elites. If people are demoralised now they would be even worse with Enda in charge.

That is not an argument for keeping Fianna Fail in power. On the contrary. A realignment of Irish politics is long overdue. That is why I have been arguing for a new coming together of people and parties which have a vision for a different Ireland. By that I mean a fair and egalitarian society which values prosperity and decency and equality. In my view there are people in most of our political parties with progressive politics. There is certainly an abundance of such people outside the political parties, particularly in the community and voluntary sector. And there is an epidemic of single issue campaigning groups looking for better public services or rights for disadvantaged sectors of our society. We need a national conversation to bring together a popular consensus on all these issues. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail could help this process of political realignment by forming a coalition all on their ownie oh.


Maybe Tuesday’s budget will be the spur for that. But some how methinks not. The leaders of both these conservative parties prefer shadow boxing and party political point scoring. Its all about holding onto power when it should be about using that power to bring about a better, fairer and just society. Around about this time ninety three years ago a small group of Irish men and women were putting together the final arrangements to proclaim an Irish Republic. We can be sure of one thing. If any of them were alive today they would see little evidence of the Republic they proclaimed at Easter 1916, in the government budget or in the response to it by Fine Gael.


By the time the budget is revealed I will be heading into the Holy Land. I dread what I might see there. However bad things are in Ireland we have a lot going for us. At least we have a peace process. They have neither peace nor process. However, as always, this blog travels with the certainty of hope.


Lorna Byrne said...

Good blog as always Gerry. I'm now going to go to some news websites to find out what atrocies have been unleashed on us by this latest budget the Government are inflicting on us! Grrrr..... Let's hope people come out and vote in the local elections in June - and vote for real change as opposed to more of the same, as you said. Good luck with the rest of your trip.

Anonymous said...

my is Philip im on of Pat Sheehans Cousins in U.s wanted to know Will Sinn Fééin ever start a 24 hour News and info Cnannel in HD like CNBC that can be watched in u.s here we get very little news from there

Kate said...

God keep you safe Gerry.

Kate in Canada
soon to be a Belfast woman!

Maire said...

Gerry, have a safe trip. In such dire economic times such as these, to further strip the wallets of the people reeks not only of corruption, but also of colonialism; here in the US, a news report stated that if the billions of dollars given out in bonuses to Bank of America upper management was given to each & every teller, it would come to approx. $150,000. The same financial insitution as well as Chase Bank, has jacked up the interests rates of their credit card holders, for no other reason then to try to recoup their losses, essentially, we pay twice for their financial misconduct.
Democracy suffers in the light of such greed, demoralizes citizens, and once again diminishes the trust of people in their government.
Be Well, Maire

Anonymous said...

Help! I am a Tamil I seek the aid of my fellow Irish brothers in suffering, to speak for us to bring out our suffering to the world. We are on the verge of being exterminated from our home land Tamileelam Please every proud Irish who sees this message lend us your support, please call in to your local radio and TV stations and your political leaders to vice support for us, condemn the Sri Lankan Government, and ask for the Lifting of the ban on us. Two days ago poison gas was used on our people and fighters by the Sri Lankan Army, a true Weapon of mass destruction. Help us….

Paul Doran said...

The Budget has arrived and as usual we suffer.4 young kids, and now we have stop that extra class we pay for. then the Person who organises the Dancing, the Art, the Drama,they suffer , then their kids suffer, due to us not being able to pay .I cannot for the life of me understand why the Irish People are not stirred up by this, taken to the streets.In france the people there what to do.We are so apathetic, I can understand sometimes why .Sinn Fein don't help double jobbing they set no example.What I would love to see is a peaceful democratic revolution by the People. enough is enough

Anonymous said...

Mr. Adams,

I write with regard the fourth paragraph of your blog in which you suggest a realignment of Irish politics.

Would it be unpatriotic to reach further and suggest a realignment of Ireland as a state, national and people? On the contrary, perhaps.

Having returned to live in Ireland almost two years ago the plight of ineptitude has bewilderment.

From policy decisions at central government levle to school management of a school, I am reminded daily of the attitude for which Ireland is stereotyped across the world, an attitude conducive to a country with little but otherwise redundant.

I have witnessed town council meetings during which the cruder points of the planning system has to be expalined to councillors, talked to employed foreigners aghast at work practices in the hotel industry and worked in a school where the relationship between staff and management is palpably non-existent.

At the kernel of Ireland's political problem and the abscence of so many contributors from the political process is a cultural attitude toward democracy.

Only yesterday, this blase attitude toward the basic principles was exhibited during the press corps debacle. In case you have not been updated, the Ceann Comhairle stated no member of the House was permitted to leave with a copy of the Budget until the Minister for Finance's address had concluded, even though members of the press were allowed to move outside the House.

In writing to you I campaign for a single issue: the right and responsiblity of Irish citizens to ensure their State operates at an optimum level.

No system of governance or law can ensure this, becuase the flaw is so deeply embedded in our culture that it is, for want of a better description, invisible to its people.

If I may take a quote from your posting: 'By that I mean a fair and egalitarian society which values prosperity and decency and equality.'

Political and current affairs debate in Ireland is mired by an inability to proactively discuss the issues in broad-scope, based on respect for freedom of speech.

It strikes me that a 'coming together' of this sort would naturally lead to complex, analytical discussion of what constitutes prosperity, decency and equality. The devil is in the detail, they say, and that's where debate seems to end up without a context for the broader perspective.

Political foundations are now ignored. Even words like capitalism and socialism, though still relevant are obsolete.

With regard political resource outside political parties, having spoken to many over the course of the last few months there many - not even voluntary or community workers - who wouldn't tread the political boards for all the money in the world - graduates, PHD holders who know that to do so would be to bastardise their own democratic rights. My feeling is that politics will become like music, the best will be kept underground.

Timothy Dougherty said...

Life without idealism is empty indeed Gerry. We just hope or starve to death. Ireland and the needs of new dimensions of the current crisis comes at a time of a connection to the past. People are more or less in time a work of contradictions among the words of the text and events, states of mind, and experiences. What might have been and what has been points to one end, which is always present. Easter,a time to honour Ireland’s dead and the poverty, inequality, violence and occupation that is part of the contradictions of the events of experiences of today. nice to hear that you can go to Gaza.

Linda Coleman said...

My prayers go with you for a safe trip, and for success in opening the door for peace and a process for sustainable peace in the Middle East.

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." --Matthew 5:9

Paul Doran said...

I agreed a lot with what Anonymous said, but we should have not have Blogs whereby people won't put their name to it.