We Had A Dream…….Once

 

We had a dream once – as a nation – we dreamed of freedom, we dreamed of shaking off the yoke of tyranny and oppression.

We dreamed that we could lift our heads up, reclaim our heritage and step forward into the future as a sovereign nation of equals.

On 24th April 1916 a declaration was made on the steps of the GPO in Dublin – it was addressed: To Irishmen and Irishwomen, and it spoke of our aspirations, of our heartfelt wish to be free.

“We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the last three hundred years they have asserted it to arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.” [1]

(emphasis added)

Today almost 100 years later that dream lies in ruins, we do not control our own destiny, we are not free, and our people are suffering, our young people are leaving, creating not just an impending demographic crisis, but a State where the pool of “taxpayers” is far too small to sustain even the most basic level of services. We are getting a taste of what that is like right now as we speak – but – it will get worse. Unless we change it.

“Youth organisations in Ireland are warning that the number of young people emigrating could be devastating for the country’s economy.

On Wednesday, they will meet politicians in Dublin to demand that more is done to tackle the problem.

Around 300,000 people have left the Republic of Ireland since 2009 – many of them young and looking for work – and tens of thousands more say they are also likely to leave unless the economy starts to improve.” [2]

Because that’s all we are now, taxpayers – not citizens, not human beings – TAXPAYERS – merely a means to an end – and the end is to keep the coffers of the rich and the privileged filling up.

EMIGRATION is tearing families apart and creating a new generation of lonely older people in Ireland, a charity has claimed.

Irish charity ALONE says it has seen an increase in the number of older people at an all-time low as a direct result of their children and grandchildren emigrating.

The charity’s claims follow news last week that a record number of Irish workers under 35 are set to move to Canada after more than 10,000 Canadian visas were made available this year.

ALONE CEO Sean Moynihan said: “We have even received calls from the emigrants themselves asking us to check on their older relative.

“The children and grandchildren of Ireland’s older people are emigrating in droves, leaving behind a large huge increase in the number of older people requiring our services because their support systems have disappeared.”

EU figures show Ireland now has the highest level of emigration in Europe.

The latest Central Statistics Office figures show almost 250 people leave the country daily – one person every six minutes.” [3]

We will become a grey nation, and how will we treat our elderly citizens, those who cannot just up and leave? Well, we already have a pretty good idea of how this State already treats our elderly citizens. Our elderly people are forced to lie on hospital trollies for hours, awaiting treatment.

“You see my mother has been lying on a trolley since Wednesday morning and as I write this on Thursday afternoon, she is still there.

She’s not alone, there are dozens of others who’ve been waiting even longer.

Lourdes is a hospital from hell but don’t blame the staff. How they cope with what is a never-ending crisis is beyond belief.

But they do and because they do, the scoundrels who have failed to end this misery will allow it to continue.

Maggie Flanagan will be 94 next September and is paralysed on her left side following a stroke last year.

She led an exemplary life and raised five children alone. The youngest was just three when my father died in 1964.

She never drank nor smoked and was forced to go out to work to keep us alive and to get us through school. She was the model citizen who certainly did the State some service.

Now this great Republic can’t provide her with a hospital bed.

Maggie was brought to the Lourdes from St Mary’s nursing home suffering from pneumonia and the antibiotics were having little effect.

She is now lying on a trolley less than one metre away from a woman who is constantly coughing up phlegm.

Yes, we Irish certainly know how to look after our old folk.” [4]

Our water is and has been for many years undrinkable [5] in some parts of the State, never mind that in fact we don’t even own our own water anymore.

“During 2013 There were 57 Boil water notices and 12 Water restriction notices active in 16 Counties affecting 35,831 people. By comparison, in 2012 suppliers issued 42 Boil water notices and water restrictions affecting approximately 50,000 consumers. By The end of 2013, 19 Boil Notices and 8 Water Restriction Notices In 12 Counties remained in place affecting over 17,000 people. Notices can apply to all or part of a supply and last from several days to several years depending on the scale of works necessary to solve the issue.

In some cases notices are precautionary in nature due to inadequate treatment or failure of the disinfection system, whereas in other cases notices are put in place because E. Coli or Cryptosporidium Is detected. Also, several of the water restrictions relate to the presence of lead pipes.

Appendix 5 Provides a list of the notices in place during 2013. As Of 11 December 2014, There were 23 supplies on Boil Water Notices Affecting a population of 23,297 And 15 Supplies on Water Restrictions Affecting a population of 4,071. The Majority of the population affected by these current boil water notices are in County Roscommon and they relate to Cryptosporidium risk.” [5]

We have a housing crisis in the midst of a glut of housing lying mouldering in unfinished estates littering this land, we have children going to school hungry, and young men in crisis, in despair take their own lives rather than face another day. We have bankers awarding themselves massive bonuses while a soup kitchen – a SOUP kitchen in Sligo is forced to close. [6]

We have lurched from one crisis to another, we have watched in horror as tales of abuse and maltreatment of our most vulnerable citizens have been told, we have seen with our own eyes as corruption and malfeasance in the highest levels of government has gone unpunished, in fact we have seen the architects of our destruction awarded, been given yet more opportunities to destroy this country.

On that April day in 1916, a startling declaration (for that time) was made – we pledged allegiance to an as yet unarticulated concept – a concept that would take another 40 or so years to find purchase in the wider world – the concept of Universal Human Rights.

“The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally……..”

It would be 50 years before another martyr on the altar of Human Rights also declared – I Have a Dream. Dr. Martin Luther King said to the American people, and it resonates today for us.

“I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.” [7]

100 years ago WE had that dream – that dream has become a nightmare.

Next year in 2016 we will have an opportunity to remind ourselves of the dream our forefathers and mothers had – a nation, free of tyranny, a nation that cherishes its citizens, ALL its citizens, a nation that can hold its head up and face into the future bowed but not beaten, hopeful not hopeless, willing to put aside petty differences and ancient rivalries and embrace once more that dream.

We have been betrayed, we have been lied to, we have been almost brought to the brink of destruction by those whom we trusted, those whom we should have been able to depend on to steer us through the oft times turbulent waters of our history. Now, we the people are being forced to pay the debts of those who caused that destruction, who brought this calamity upon us – we are paying with our young people, we are paying with our tears, we are paying for the privilege of being crushed, being impoverished, made homeless, driven to despair and hopelessness.

If we could but embrace that dream again – a dream of a nation where all its citizens are valued, where that declaration that acknowledged the fundamental tenets of Universal Human Rights – that all Human beings have intrinsic worth and value – that the only requirement to be vested with Human Rights is to be a Human Being.

We’re not just taxpayers, we’re not just faceless economic units, we are Human Beings, we are Irish citizens. We’re not a faceless multitude of “burdens on the State” – we ARE the State – WE are The Republic of Ireland

Our worth as Human Beings is not dependant on whether or not we are toiling away to pay off debts we did not incur, to fund the lifestyles and cynical ambitions of corporations and greedy developers, to line the already bulging pockets of avaricious businessmen.

Being poor is not a character flaw – being rich on the backs of the poor IS. The late great Nelson Mandela said:

“Over coming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice it is the protection of fundamental human rights. Everyone everywhere has the right to live in dignity. Free from fear and oppression. Free from hunger and thirst and free to express themselves and associate at will” Nelson Mandela [8]

We had a dream once – we had hope, we had a future, our children had a future and we were willing to fight for that future – our future has now been mortgaged – our children’s futures have been sold.

The resources to fund our services were signed away in order to satisfy an agreement made in the dead of a cold September night in 2008 to save the skins of crooks and gombeen men.

But – we have as a nation survived much worse – we have endured – we are still here – our people have gone out in the world and done extraordinary things – we refuse to give up.

We will not give up – we cannot give up – we have a destiny to fulfil, almost 100 years ago we had a dream, the time has come to make that dream a reality, to build a nation that;

“……guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally……..”

In our national anthem [9] the last line of the 1st chorus – in English says

“we’re children of a fighting race, that never yet has known disgrace, and as we march the foe to face, we’ll sing a soldiers song”

The foe we face is among us, the enemy is inside our gates – 100 years after we articulated our dream of being free we will have an opportunity to reclaim that dream, to start again, to fulfil our destiny.

My fellow Irish men and Irish women, and all those who call this land home, in the words of Dr. Rory Hearne from NUI Maynooth;

“A century after rising up and (partly) freeing itself from hundreds of years of colonization and associated enforced famine and oppression, Ireland has once again become a colonised state. Its sovereignty and the dignity of its people, its natural resources and public assets having being handed over to financial and corporate capital (big business) by the Irish political establishment and management classes.

From Irish water, publicly owned land, to the Corrib gas field in Mayo, our fisheries, our wind, motorways, housing, welfare job supports, community services, public transport, health services – they are all already, or are in the process of, being privatised and sold off to the control and ownership of private corporations and their wealthy owners. The most grievous forms of re-colonisation and abandonment of the principles of the Republic took place when the Irish people bailed out domestic banks, developers and the European financial system.

As a result, the people suffered massive austerity and the national debt has reached the point whereby a fifth of all tax revenues are now paying debt repayments rather than much needed public services. People are being evicted from their homes and made homeless or suffering from exorbitant rent and mortgage repayments in order to satisfy the profit seeking of the banks (including state owned AIB), and this is being worsened as NAMA and the government enable international property vulture investment funds to buy up swathes of Irish homes and land, irrespective of the short and long term social impacts. The Euro financial system and associated treaties such as the Fiscal Treaty have removed much of Ireland’s sovereignty.

For example, Ireland is restricted in its ability to borrow or increase investment in vital public services and infrastructure because of EU Treaty and Euro financial rules. Germany and the core European countries are dictating the imposition of austerity across all countries.

How is Ireland still a sovereign, independent, country in this context? How can the will of the Irish people be expressed and translated into practice through their democratically elected government? In a way, Ireland has become a neo-colony of neoliberal capitalism, US multinationals and the EU.” [10]

Dr. Martin Luther King articulated the only answer possible for both us and any nation that finds itself crushed under the heels of faceless bureaucrats, corporate bullies and sycophantic politicians.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

We must once more become “a risen people” and throw off this new yoke of oppression and tyranny and throw out those who enabled it.

From Bunreacht na hEireann 1937 (Constitution of Ireland)

Article 6

All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.”

(emphasis added)

It is time. It is way past time we took back what was taken from us – squandered, given away, sold – “ownership of Ireland, and [to] the unfettered control of Irish destinies

 

 

References

[1]Poblacht Na hEireann

http://www.irishfreedomcommittee.net/HISTORY/1916_Proc.htm

[2] Irish youth groups warn of emigration crisis 29 May 2013

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-22698740

[3] Ireland’s new ‘lonely’ generation as emigration increases By Siobhan Breatnach on March 25, 2014

http://www.irishpost.co.uk/news/irelands-new-lonely-generation-one-person-leaves-ireland-every-six-minutes

[4] Pat Flanagan: Kenny’s response to our A&E shambles is truly sick

http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/news-opinion/pat-flanagan-kennys-response-ae-5241354

[5] From the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Drinking Water Report 2013

http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/water/drinking/Drinking%20Water%20Report%20Web.pdf

[6] Soup kitchen in Sligo forced to close over toilet red-tape; Tuesday, December 16, 2014

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/soup-kitchen-in-sligo-forced-to-close-over-toilet-red-tape-302677.html

[7] I have A Dream – Dr. Martin Luther King.

http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/documents/1951-/martin-luther-kings-i-have-a-dream-speech-august-28-1963.php

[8] Nelson Mandela – make poverty history.

http://www.makepovertyhistory.org/extras/mandela.shtml

[9] National Anthem – Abhrán na bhfiann/A Soldiers Song

http://www.irish-folk-songs.com/irish-national-anthem-lyrics-chords-and-sheet-music.html

[10] The Irish water war, austerity and the ‘Risen people’; An analysis of participant opinions, social and political impacts and transformative potential of the Irish anti water-charges movement; Dr Rory Hearne, Department of Geography, Maynooth University, April 2015

https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/sites/default/files/assets/document/TheIrishWaterwar_0.pdf

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