This weeks’ discussion on the question of water meters, and the revelation that there will be problems applying it to one third of households, tells its own story. It was the same with the household and septic tank charges, there is a blinkered haste to impose this policy.
The point is that this policy is being imposed on the people, no one was asked to discuss it and no one voted for it.
The reality for hard-pressed householders is that these charges are an impossible burden. The recent Social Justice Ireland report shows that over 700,000 people live in poverty, including 200,000 children, and many more are barely managing. Yet, this country produces enough food to feed over 36 million, despite EU quota limits, something is very wrong.
Ireland is a rich country, no one should be hungry or denied basic services.
Most people oppose these charges and know that they are to pay the infamous bondholders, many of whom are anonymous, for debts not ours to begin with.
Imposition of these policies is forcing many people to break the law. As with Minister Burton’s bogus Social Welfare fraud campaign the population in general is being labelled as criminal. Many people are frightened that their benefits will be affected if they attract attention by voicing opposition. Recently we had the scandal of both the city and county managers saying they were “coming for you!”, to those who refused to pay the household charge – how dare they! These managers are paid over €150,000 p.a., each, they live in protected privilege, they have no right to threaten citizens.
Article 5 of Bunreacht na hÉireann says that Ireland is a “democratic state”, therefore, it is our right as citizens to determine its policy. However, these policy impositions show, as most electors will testify, that we are effectively excluded from such decision making.
This is the key problem we face today, our democracy has been usurped by vested interests. Article 16.2.1 of Bunreacht na hÉireann states that TD’s should “represent constituencies”, it doesn’t provide for TD’s to represent either parties or themselves individually. In fact, there is no mention in the Constitution of parties, they should not be favoured in our Electoral Laws and the State (we) should not be financing them. The political parties are no more than private member clubs, furthering their own narrow interests.
So, ultimately, if we want to make progress we must stop yielding to vested interest groups. Parties cannot be allowed to replace our mandate with their own – we citizens must empower ourselves, and this is entirely possible.
This article by Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, first appeared in the Cork Independent.
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