May 19th 2011
BALLYHEA BONDHOLDER BAILOUT PROTEST – our 12th march this Sunday – SHEEPLE OR PEOPLE?
Just back after a few days in France with my brother Paddy and his partner Pilar, both grieving the loss of their baby daughter last week; gave me time to take stock of my own situation, my obsession for the past six months and more with the bondholder bailout protest, the time and energy devoted to it, and I considered the old Jesuit philosophy – God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I’ve made a few daunting decisions over the years: Emigrate to London before my 17th birthday, June 1970 (flee to England, more like, from the wrath of my oul' fella, knowing full well that in the days before ‘free’ education, I hadn’t got anything near the Leaving Cert results needed for the expected university scholarship); join the Irish Army in 1972, risk losing three years for the opportunity of getting into the Ordnance Survey; emigrate to New York in 1984 when the bottom fell out of the construction industry here; leave wife and kids to go back to New York in 1994 on my own for a couple of years when things still hadn’t picked up here and the savings from the first stint in the States were almost gone; switch careers in 1998 from construction to journalism, just when construction was taking off again.
All those decisions, however, were personal, affected only myself and my family; this bondholder protest is bigger than any of them, affects this entire nation now and for at least one generation to come. To protest, to fight, wasn’t a decision at all really, it was in my nature. I’ve never allowed myself to be bullied, have shipped some serious punishment over the years in standing up to individuals and groups bigger and stronger than myself. In my nature also, however, is intelligence, and so, the Jesuit thinking.
I’ve done everything I can think of to do over the past several months to try and bring this issue to the people; letters to every media outlet print/radio/TV that I can access, mails likewise; texts to all my contacts, to my friends, to acquaintances; phonecalls, meetings, house-to-house pamphleting, and all the while reading – so much reading! – to try and inform myself of what was happening. Set up a blog, a Twitter account (me, a bloody tweeter, @ballyhea14), a Facebook page (Ballyhea says no to bondholder bailout), an online petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/isntbb11), hours and hours of every day devoted to the protest, everything else bar my job taking a back seat. But, I have a wife, I have kids, I have family, I have a life. Everything I’ve done so far has failed miserably to spread this protest, to galvanise people into standing up for themselves. Two more rolls of the dice and if that doesn’t work, that’s it, then I take a back seat myself. We will continue to march every week in Ballyhea but I'll leave it to someone with a lot more clout, a lot more eloquence and a lot more energy to take up the cause nationally.
First, May 29th, Ballyhea Bondholder Bailout Protest march goes on tour, to Thurles for the Cork/Tipp Munster championship match, 12 noon, once around the famous square; then, two days later, Tuesday May 31st, start the run/walk from Ballyhea to the Dáil (town to town, via Limerick city, c. 150 miles on foot, going to be painful) to deliver whatever names we have on the petition, which looks to scrap the deal of November last, or to at least hold a referendum on the terms of that deal.
So, sheeple or people? €35bn of bonds still to be fought for, do we continue to bow to the demands of the ECB or do we march? Lord knows we’ve bleated – and are still bleating - to the heavens high but we’re also still being shepherded along by Frankfurt and its barking dogs, our own government ministers. Penned in, do we wait to see where they’re going to herd us next, or do we move? Sheeple or people, people?