The Blog

The State of Ireland 2013

This is Ireland. This is our situation. The Irish citizen is faced with a blizzard of potential injustices and problems if they live in our country. People need to organise themselves and take account. It is time for people to say enough...

Mitterrand thought Mrs Thatcher had the eyes of Caligula and mouth of Marilyn Monroe. Perhaps, one might say, Enda Kenny has the grin of a Shylock and the neck of an Ostrich. Such an extensive instrument as it is, the length of Enda's neck was gradually revealed to the Irish people over the course of what has been 2013.

This year, was far more brutal and barbaric in cuts than the last. Mr. Kenny, the manager of our country, unfortunately was not as adept at dodging flower pots as he was public debates, however, on both he inevitably tripped and fell over. A referendum to abolish one third of the Irish Parliament - The Senate - was lost by the government, and the filthy and shameful campaign the government employed illustrated perfectly how they play politics. There was fake savings numbers connected to the cost of running the Seanad, misinformation, and bucket loads of money to back it all up. The public voted against the government, and elected to retain the Senate on the basis of every citizen having a say on who sits in the Senate, which currently, is not the case. Now, the government are peddling the notion that it will take another referendum to reform the Senate, which is not so, an adequate law alone would suffice.

An outflow of thousands of young people have left the country, 400,000 since 2006. 250 a day. A result, indeed, of the youth unemployment crisis our government is neglecting. Special needs subsidies have been hacked away, 10% of children's entitlements have been snatched this year for the sake of gambling bankers. Women are being, in some cases, criminalised for making decisions about their own bodies. Thousands of Irish citizens are facing egregious evictions, and as the home repossessions bill went through the Senate a few months back, as usual, the same few decent Senators voted against it. Irish water supplies are being sold off to private businesses thirsty for money. On making many false promises before the parliamentary election, our current Minister for Communications Pat Rabitte said on national television: "Isnt that what you tend to do during an election?" The very same Minister who had the gall to lambast the last government in melodramtic style on national television right before the last election, a performance, in hindsight, that is an embarrassment for him now.

Youth unemployment is simply not being dealt with adequately. Young Irish workers may sincerely be the first generation in over a century that will be poorer than their parents. The young are getting hit the worst. They had to take on massive debts to buy houses that do not hold the value they were originally supposed to. Now, they have to pay these debts back and hold what are almost worthless assets. The only jobs available to pay back these debts are temporary, and have low wages. Students graduating from college face the prospect of interning for an extortionate extent of time. The government does not seem to care, it was reported that they even sent out letters suggesting to young people it best they just leave the country for work elsewhere.

Money was, and is, needed to be saved we are all of us told, because we have to pay our European 'partners' back for the excessive borrowings we took, meanwhile, we are being charged exorbitant rates to get this money. According to a study done by University College Dublin, the Irish media have been cheering the Government's austerity policies all the way, convincing the Irish public to get in step. Irish people tend to think they have a moral obligation to pay for private contracts between rogue bankers and the gambling business people whom made dodgy deals. This is debt accumulated by reckless bond holders that invested in what were essentially casinos for property developers. At the time of Anglo Irish Bank's implosion, instead of delegating a certain amount of money to keep things afloat, we offered a blanket guarantee, total recapitalization with unlimited public funds. Irish taxpayers will spend the next forty years paying for losses rung up by a failed private bank, and they are being distracted with a smokescreen by being told that they are "exiting the bailout program".

The human cost in statistics is shocking, and made even more so with acknowledgement underneath the cloak of each and every statistic and each and every number, is that there is a person. They probably have family. Children. No child benefit, mortgage debts, temporary jobs on low wages, and not in the least, expectedly, an optimistic outlook on the world.

Three people take their own life a day in Ireland. Approximately four hundred deaths from suicide per year in Ireland is the present figure. Suicide, as we all know, is often done out of total despair. Financial difficulties, interpersonal relationships, and other undesirable predicaments play a significant role. Funds that were supposed to be "ring fenced" for dealing with mental health were cut, and there were rumours that our Minister for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch may have threatened to resign in anger.

This is Ireland. This is our situation. The Irish citizen is faced with a blizzard of potential injustices and problems if they live in our country. People need to organise themselves and take account. It is time for people to say enough. It is time, as that weathered cliche goes, for change. It starts with the individual. As wrote Hubert Butler: "I do not doubt that a new generation, with fresh ideas and the vigour to carry them through, will solve some of our problems, and yet in times of troubled peace like ours, when the old idealisms have lost their magic, the future, I believe, lies with the solitary individual . . ."