So, we’re here….
So, we’re here. I suppose when we were told repeatedly that “we are where we are” that this is where we were heading. The day after a march which attracted 50,000 people to Dublin city-centre, the Irish people, through our …
So, we’re here. I suppose when we were told repeatedly that “we are where we are” that this is where we were heading. The day after a march which attracted 50,000 people to Dublin city-centre, the Irish people, through our democratically elected government, signed up to a bailout which contains enough zeroes to cause your eyes to boggle and enough conditions to ensure we’re up the creek without a canoe or even anything which we could use to build a canoe for years to come. We could, I suppose, borrow some more cash from the IMF to build a canoe. Wonder what interest rate they’d charge for that?
So, we’re here. Two and a bit years after Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest of All gave a get-out-of-jail-free card to our smug, complacent, arrogant bankers, a bailout scheme which was hastily arranged and executed with no thought for long-term consequences, we are now at a point where we know how much they’ve cost us. Or think they’ve cost us. Given how we seem to be getting a different set of figures from the banks every time we ask for a new ledger, does anyone really think we’ve seen the end of bank rescues? Problem now is there are no more piggy-banks to raid so the cash will have to come from increases in taxes (and from taxes yet to be invented), decreases in social welfare payments and savage cuts in public spending. All to go into the great black hole of Irish banking. I know, I know, you and I and everyone we know had nothing to do with this, but we’re going to end up paying. Hey, that’s market economics for you. Welcome to capitalism, dude.
So, we’re here. One lunchtime last week, I wandered up the road to the shops to get a few things. As is usual around this parade of shops at lunchtime, there was a gaggle of kids from the local secondary schools mooching around doing what teenagers usually do at lunchtime – buying chocolate and sweets in bulk, slagging off each other, shyly eyeing up members of the opposite (or same) sex. They’re the poor fuckers I feel most sorry for in all of this. They’re the ones who will probably end up paying for this mess for many years to come. Long after our useless politicans have left the stage – with pensions, directorships and other goodies under their oxters – the next generation will be paying the cost of these crazy times. And, please note Mr Lenihan, they didn’t party during the good times.
So, we’re here. Around 50,000 Irish citizens showed up in Dublin city-centre on Saturday to express their anger, frustration, ire and general sense of unhappiness with what is going on in this country which we call home. They didn’t pull their punches: the march may have been organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions but leading trade unionists heard volleys of boos for once when they spoke. The trade union leaders are just as guilty in how we got to this point as Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Fingleton and Bertie Ahern. They can’t say they have clean hands in any of this. But people still showed up, shook their fists, waved their homemade placards and listened to Christy Moore, Fintan O’Toole and others. Afterwards, a small bunch went off, caused a bit of aggro on Kildare Street and dominated some of the post-match coverage. The vast majority of those on the march had no truck with those event-hijackers but, there you go. You lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Sigh. A “Not In My Name” silent march involving no union banners, party posters or other political trimmings would have been much more powerful and effective, but the price you pay for letting others organise marches and protests are the political allegiances.
So, we’re here. We’ve marched, we’ve listened aghast as the terms of the bailout are read out to us and we’ve drawn up our own four year plans to cope with what’s ahead. Many are preparing to seek revenge in the general election next year when you can be sure that anyone using the Fianna Fail and Green Party flags of conveniences will get it in the neck on the doorsteps. Hopefully, people will also realise that outgoing TDs from the extended Fianna Fail family, deputies like John McGuinness (Carlow-Kilkenny) and Mattie McGrath (Tipperary South) who have spent so much time in the current Dail term speaking out of both sides of their mouths trying to be all things to all comers, deserve to get a blast of anger too (and a sacking at the polls, but that probably won’t happen). Indeed, it’s worth remembering that the next general election will not see Fianna Fail consigned to the history books. They’ll return with less than 40 TDs to be sure, but they’ll still be around like a bad smell. Anyone who believes we’re about to see the demise of that party doesn’t really understand how embedded they are in this country’s culture. There will always be enough of a rump who vote FF to return a few of them. Get used to it. The only way to change that is to change our political system and you know that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.
So, we’re here – but where do we go from here? Yes, there will be more marches and protests in the coming weeks before and after a savage budget and all the way up to and including the general election. But these marches will sadly have little effect bar allowing some people to make funny placards (there must be times when Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews wish they’d copyrighted their Father Ted “Down with This Sort of thing” slogan – it’s become the protest equivalent of people who go to music festivals with the tricolour to wave at bemused foreign acts) and others to express some of their anger at how it has all come to this. An election will mean politics as usual, while the bigger issues – such as what kind of a country we want to live in and the need for a new sort of politics to take into account that our current system is no longer up to the job – will be largely ignored. Many of us don’t want to ignore them, but they’ll be put to one side as the discourse becomes about Brian Cowen’s disastrous tenure as Taoiseach, Enda Kenny’s all-round uselessness, Eamonn Gilmore’s flip-flopping, Gerry Adams’ ongoing inability to understand economics and John Gormley’s pathetic attempts to distance himself and his party from the decisions of the last three and a half years. Meanwhile, the money will be drawn down from our various creditors to disappear into the banks, interest payments will have to made and the cuts will go on. You can bet that a lot of chancers in the forthcoming election will blame what has happened and what is yet to come on the EU, ECB and IMF – but please remember that when our financial institutions went on a decade-long bender, it was the politicans who didn’t shout stop.
So, like I said, we’re here. Anyone know where we go from here?