(from Pamphlet: “IRISH CITIZENS, WE MUST EMPOWER OURSELVES!”)
There have been many hundreds of new organisations created by thousands of concerned people to address some aspect or another of the current situation or even to propose an overall solution. Many initiatives have been taken with new action groups, campaigns, protests and resistance movements springing up, with not a few new political parties also.
Reform is the order of the day.
The mantra of ‘reform’ has even been adopted by the powers-that-be and their political parties. However, the reforms they have in mind are to lessen even that political engagement with the system that citizens have had until now. They are hell bent on using the crisis and the appetite for agitation and reform to drive forward the ‘European Project’.
Many so-called reforms are being peddled in place of, and to wreck, the simple demand of the people for empowerment.
All talk of ‘left alternatives’ or ‘there is a better way’ simply continues the system of political party dictate by posing a new ‘fairer’ variant of what we already have or leading us on the path of pointless protests, petitions, and vacuous discussion about political or democratic reforms, none of which have as their objective the empowerment of the citizens of this country.
Any reforms to ‘increase engagement’ or ‘increase participation’ which do not amount to unfettered empowerment of the citizens are simply attempts to prop up the current system of party political rule.
We do not want to be simply ‘consulted’ by party politicians or the civil or local public servants. We do not want to persuade the government of the value of fulfilling our needs. We are neither ‘clients’ nor ‘customers’, as the state bureaucracy insultingly terms us – reducing all citizens to market commodities.
We as a people have aspirations on every front, all of which are legitimate, which can be met because our country is rich and we are resourceful and cultured. Every person has the right to expect that not only their needs are met but that their fullest potential and dreams can also be fulfilled.
We only lack one thing – empowerment of the citizens – to achieve all.
No reforms advocated by the Dáil parties or even the new fledging parties or other organisations have as their aim the unfettered control of the State by its citizens. In other words they are not designed to empower the people. Most will result in further disenfranchising the electorate, consolidating the dominance of the political party system.
These ‘reforms’ are akin to tinkering with the peripheral aspects and the mechanism of elections and representation. They will do nothing whatsoever to put the people in charge and to put in place policies that favour the people.
Will The People’s Convention be running campaigns and protests to call for new State policy?
The People’s Convention does not dissuade anyone from raising their voice or organising against the denial of their rights. But it is important that the precious energy of the people is not dissipated in pointless protests or gestures. For example, the general advice from some quarters in advance of the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s mass demonstration on November 27th 2010 declared that it was “our last chance” at making a protest in advance of the forthcoming draconian budget. In which case why protest if it is going to be that meaningless?
Similarly, the ‘We the Citizens’ road show had the intention of showing how a “Public Forum Would Make the Coalition’s Life a Lot Easier” as if the issue is one of hardship for a government rather than the deprivations being suffered by the people.
We should, by all means, resist every curtailment of our democracy and all attacks on the welfare of citizens but above all we must take urgent steps to empower the citizens of this country. We should not be diverted by exercises which “march us up the hill and march us down again”, which are cloaked in the language of ‘democracy’ or ‘left’ phraseology. Empowerment of the citizens of this country is the order of the day!
No proposal of the political parties will result in the empowerment of the electorate and place decision making on all matters in the hands of the citizens. No Dáil party, in all their thousands of pages of policies, holds out such a simple and democratic proposal as the empowerment of the citizens.
The various ideas that they float are just tinkering with the forms of representation such as reducing the number of Dáil representatives, or abolishing the Seanad, or making TD’s sign in to work! There is undoubtedly need for reform of many things, but any reforms that do not empower the electorate are illusions – so much smoke and mirrors to confuse people and obscure reality.
Notwithstanding the many areas in which people would like to see change, first and foremost is the issue of how we select and elect candidates to represent us in the Dáil; how those representatives carry the mandate of the constituents on each matter to be decided in the Dáil; how we ensure that the policies that are adopted are implemented by government and officials; and how we ensure that all State officials are answerable for their actions.
There is a great demand for political reform from the people of Ireland in the wake of the economic collapse and the affect it is having on the lives of citizens. Not surprisingly the forces which have visited the present disaster upon us are not behind in donning the mantel of reform.
This has been seized upon by the political parties of vested interests as another opportunity to turn reality on its head. Their proposals for political reform are accompanied now by an increasingly deafening din for “fiscal restraint”, “living within our means”, “ending abuse of the welfare system”, “showing the world that we can pay our way”, “paying our national debts” and so on.
In other words they are trying to turn the table on the electorate whom they accuse of voting for the previous set of policies which created the property bubble and subsequent collapse and has led to so-called unsustainable expenditure in the areas of social need – health, welfare and education.