Will Campaigns, Protests or Petitions make Citizens the Decision Makers?

Brendan Doris, Lucan.

Published in Issue No. 1 of Convention newspaper:

Brendan Doris of Dublin Mid-West attended a local meeting recently on the issue of household charges and has some thoughts on the wider problem this throws up

The citizens of this country are being increasingly forced to mount campaign after campaign against one type of depravation or another due to decisions and actions of successive governments.

People are rightly opposed to the new household and water charges for many sound reasons. These new taxes, for that is what they are, are being levied at a time of unprecedented financial difficulty for more than one million people who are in households dependent on social welfare and unemployment payments and others who are struggling with huge mortgages.

The politicians cynically justify these “local” charges as being a “fairer” way to pay for local services and a means to “widen the tax net”. How is extracting more taxes from people on fixed income, wages or salaries going to widen the tax net while speculators get billions to subsidize their gambling?

These decisions have been made without any mandate from the citizens of this State. It is a system of “taxation without representation”.

The question must be asked as we face yet another campaign. Who does it serve to agitate in this way? How is it that we, the electorate, are increasingly being forced to protest against our own State power even to the point of breaking the law? Where is the democracy in that?

The political parties of every type have been making a big noise about their reform agendas during and after the election. Yet the fact is that taken together all these so-called reforms will not bring about the one critical reform that the people need – the empowerment of the citizens of this State!

Citizens all over the country are looking at a different approach as to how we can defend our interests against the austerity programme and achieve our own empowerment – an approach which is not piecemeal but one which roots out decades of abuse of our mandate and our democracy.

As it is, people put huge amounts of time into unselfish voluntary work, raising funds, providing services and facilites because of neglect by the State.

If even a fraction of this effort, or of time spent campaigning, was re-directed into solving the underlying problem (lack of democracy) then we would have the means to solve all problems.

Working for the empowerment of the citizens is the key to a better future.

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