Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Cork march - story of a hijacking

Went to the Cork march on Saturday last, their first, and no point in trying to sugar-coat this – it was a disaster. 
I had thought the intention was to have a non-political people’s protest, much like our own in Ballyhea, everyone united behind the single issue of separating the bank/bondholder debt from the sovereign debt, then treating that bondholder debt as it should have been treated from the start – a European problem.  What happened, however, was that a single political party, whom I won’t even bother to name, hijacked the parade and used it for their own purposes. 
They had their own broad banner which they attempted to force to the front of the march, bypassing several rows of protesters – I had words with the male banner-bearer, informed him that I wasn’t there to march under any party flag or banner, and he reluctantly dropped back.  Then there was their man on the megaphone, an adolescent leading his party aficionados in juvenile obscene chants – this as we were marching down a packed Patrick Street in mid-afternoon, people of all ages and persuasions looking on.  Eventually my daughter had a word with him and he dropped the obscenities but the damage was done, the impression created that far from being a mature and responsible protest, this was just another noisy and ragged parade.
En-route, and afterwards in the Grand Parade, that same party were on a recruiting drive, handing out their own propaganda pamphlets.  When it was over I had serious words with a few of their number, told them how I felt.  They denied that they had hijacked the parade – I argued otherwise.  No other party had brought its own banners, its own placards, its own flags, no other party was chanting its own slogan, no other party was on its own recruiting drive.  It wasn’t just selfish, it was myopic – this is a national issue, adversely affects us all, but what chance of uniting the nation on it with this attitude?
I repeat, this is a non-political campaign; party political banners are as out of place there as they would be in Thurles on May 29th for the Cork/Tipperary Munster championship match.  All those who marched on Saturday in Cork should be willing to march with the rest of us in protest at that dastardly deal done last November, shoulder to shoulder, marching as a nation united under just the one banner – NO TO BONDHOLDER BAILOUT.
I put this to the leader of that party unit in Cork but he wasn’t having any of it – this, he complained, would be centralising everyone.  Well, if we can’t unite on a single issue like this, what chance have we?  In fairness to the organisers – and I spoke briefly to Tom Dooley – this was not what they had had in mind; the protest was simply ripped from them by people who have far more experience of taking to the streets.  A pity.  Unless there are radical changes, I won’t be going back.
Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.