Wednesday, 4 December 2013


In days of old when people came across a boulder blocking their progress, when there were no air compressors, jack-hammers, power-drills or any such modern gadgetry, they developed a simple method of ridding themselves of this very solid and seemingly immovable obstacle in their path.

They found the weak point in the boulder, drove in a wedge – several wedges in several weak points, if there was more than one. They excavated around the periphery, built fires in the hollow, let the heat build up, gradually hammered home the wedge(s) until eventually the boulder was reduced to rubble. No explosion, no collateral damage, problem solved.

In our campaign to get the bank-debt burden lifted from the Irish people we have met several such boulders, all the way to Brussels and back. From our experience with the Dáil Technical Group Promissory Note bonds Motion last week, we now know for certain of two such obstacles in front of us right here right now, at home.

The first is our own government. We expected our Motion would be defeated, we did not expect the sneering disdain with which it was dismissed. In an effort (misguided, as it transpired) to make it acceptable to even the two government parties we had confined the Motion to the most obviously odious element of the bank-debt, the Promissory Note bonds; additionally, we had kept the wording as non-confrontational and as simple as possible.

And still it was lost. Not just beaten but, taking their cue from the arrogance with which the four who now rule the roost in this country (Kenny, Noonan, Gilmore & Howlin) treat all challenges, those who had backed it were derided and mocked as fools and simpletons, all 36 TDs plus all those of us who have been campaigning for years.

We know now, without shadow of doubt, this government will not ask for bank-debt writedown, not even on this most odious debt. That's one rock in our path.

On the evening of the final debate a representative gathering from the various Says No groups from Dublin and from around the country met outside the Dáil, a show of solidarity with those inside supporting the motion on our behalf. Every news outlet in the country - radio, TV, newspaper - had been notified. All chose to ignore it.

RTE went one better however - perhaps even two better. On the main Six-One news, anchor Bryan Dobson referred to us as 'those idiots'; at around the same time, another RTE heavyweight, David Davin-Power, made his way through our protest but ignored what was going on. Stopped at a red light, he was approached by one of the organisers and politely asked if he'd have any interest in covering what was happening - "No interest in the world!", his dismissive reply, before stalking off across the road and into the comfort of the Dáil.

That's another rock in our road, our national media.

We have already found the weak point in the government's position, the Promissory Note debt. Not a single Fine Gael or Labour Party TD who spoke against the Motion addressed what was being proposed, that we merely ask the ECB allow the Central Bank destroy the €28.1bn in Promissory Note bonds it shortly proposes to begin selling to the markets (very possibly to the same financial institutions bailed out by the original Promissory Notes).

We have driven our first wedge into that rock, now we must keep hammering, working with those TDs.

The national media rock? The weak point there, obviously, is the audience. Two wedges; first we boycott - stop watching, stop listening, stop buying; then we bombard, with e-mails, with letters, on Twitter, on Facebook. We let Bryan Dobson know, we let David Davin-Power know; they are the servants of the people, not the masters.

Then we build our own media, create our own information channels - written, audio, video. We have the technology, right?

And all the while that we're driving home those wedges, we also keep turning up the heat. And we can – we certainly have enough fuel. 

Far from there being no protest in Ireland against all that's being imposed on us, there is protest everywhere:

  • Our campaign against the bank-debt;
  • The water charges groups;
  • The Home Tax campaign;
  • All the various organisations protesting all the cuts to the most vulnerable sectors of our society;
  • The debt relief groups;
  • The various charity organisations;
  • Those fighting to reverse the terrible deals down in the sale of our energy reserves; 
  • Etc etc.

Around all the rocks we've all been meeting, we’ve all also been excavating, exposing, lighting our individual fires. Now is the time to pull them all together.

We need an umbrella under which we can all gather, a central organisation, a central website; we can all continue with our own focus but above all we need a central ambition and direction, a coordinated drive to force the interests and the needs of the people back to the top of the agenda, no longer subservient to the demands of high finance. We need to force our politicians and our media to do what they’re supposed to do, we need them to fight for us and not against us, we need them to inform us and not fool us.

All of this is going to take time to build but like those wise people of old, we need to have the patience. This will not happen overnight, it won't happen in weeks, maybe won't even happen in months. But we don't just wait. We work, we build our fires, we keep increasing the heat, and we hammer away at those wedges.

Peacefully, patiently, working in community and in harmony, working especially with a smile on our face and a song in our heart, we’ll get this done.

Know the bounty we’ve been blessed with in this country, the rich soil, the bounteous rivers, lakes and seas, the beauty of the landscape, the wit and humour of the people, the music and culture, and so much more. We’re a nation that should soar, not a nation that will allow itself ever again be crushed underfoot by a new set of money-merchant masters.

Remember the words of Terence McSweeney, later adopted by Ghandi: "It is not those who can inflict the most, but those that can suffer the most who will conquer."