We have suffered centuries of outrage, enforced poverty, and bitter misery. Our rights and liberties have been trampled on by an alien aristocracy, who treating us as foes, usurped our lands, and drew away from our unfortunate country all material riches. The real owners of the soil were removed to make room for cattle, and driven across the ocean to seek the means of living, and the political rights denied to them at home, while our men of thought and action were condemned to loss of life and liberty. But we never lost the memory and hope of a national existence. We appealed in vain to the reason and sense of justice of the dominant powers.
Those words are not part of the statement from the organisers of today’s National Demonstration, they are the first paragraph of the Fenian proclamation of 1867 which were written 150 years ago this year. They may well have been written in 2017.
We are still suffering enforced poverty.
Our rights and liberties are still being trampled on.
Our material riches are again being drawn away from the country.
The real owners of the land are again being removed, we are being evicted from our homes, our land and SME’s by foreign vulture funds and financial institutions.
Our children are again being driven across the oceans to seek a means of living.
History is repeating itself.
This National Demonstration was called as a result of the various and wide ranging issues effecting people right across this island. Homelessness , evictions , exorbitant rents, political and judicial corruption, health care , cutbacks to vital services , the rape of our natural resources including our water , oil and gas, fisheries etc. Each one of you people here today will have your own specific issue that motivated you to come out onto the streets. You are testament to the fact that the political systems on this island are dysfunctional; they are not fit for purpose. We are a grassroots movement of ordinary people who are here to say We Have Had Enough.
It is our intention that this demonstration will be the start of national people’s movement for real change, A 32 county campaign against austerity. We want you to go back to your town, city and county to organise an effective campaign against all of the issues that are affecting us. We will be organising days of actions , acts of civil disobedience like Apollo house , we will hold accountable their corrupt banks , their eviction courts and the whole array of corrupt institutions which are working against the best interests of the Irish people.
Ireland is the victim of a carefully planned process of social and economic engineering driven and directed by global corporations and financial institutions with full compliance and collusion of the European union and home grown gombeen politicians.
Ireland is being asset stripped, we are witnessing the transfer of vast amounts of public wealth into private hands and into the coffers of the global elite. The 1%.
When Lehman Brothers bank collapsed in 2008 it set off a chain of events that was used as the catalyst for one the greatest financial scams in world history. A complete lack of financial regulation by the Irish central bank and dept of finance left Ireland completely exposed to the worst effects of the banking crash. Claims have been made that the financial regulator, central bank and government ministers were asleep at the wheel, that they were unaware of the impending financial disaster but we now know that that certain economists and people like Jonathan Sugarman had warned them, warnings that they ignored. Under threats from the ECB that financial bombs would go off in Dublin the fianna fail/Greens government capitulated and we the Irish people were sacrificed to save the European banking system and the euro. The population of this state comprises of less than 0.5% of Europe yet we were forced to pay 42% of the cost of the European banking collapse. An odious debt was foisted onto the shoulders of our children and future generations. Fianna fail , fine gael and labour put the interests of their European masters and bondholders before the Irish people.
The state turned to the international monetary fund, the European central bank and the European commission for funding of almost €70 billion to finance budget deficits, the bailout of bondholders and to recapitalise so called pillar banks. The Troika had taken control, the false pretence that this state had economic sovereignty was exposed , the funding they provided was contingent on the implementation of savage neo-liberal austerity policies. These vicious austerity policies initially instigated by Fianna Fail and the greens were enthusiastically enforced by Fine Gael and labour with an iron fist. We quickly found out that Labours way was the Troika’s and the blueshirts way. These austerity measures had a devastating effect on people already suffering rising unemployment and huge levels of indebtedness, by design they impacted most severely on the most vulnerable in society, our old people, the sick, people with disabilities, carers the unemployed and low and middle income earners.
Families were yet again forced into poverty, forced into a choice between paying mortgages to increasingly aggressive banks or putting food on the table resulting in children going to school hungry. Shamefully it was the labour party and a woman Joan Burton who almost singlehandedly dismantled a system of social protection which forced more and more people into poverty. The net result is that over 150,000 children are living in consistent poverty while those most responsible retired on massive pensions, this is how they cherish all the children of the nation equally.
It is not a coincident that we called the National Demonstration for today the 21st of January. Today is the 98Th anniversary of the establishment of the First Dail Eireann, the ratification of the Sovereign Republic declared in arms on Easter week 1916 and the start of the war for Independence. The First Dail Eireann was established by the democratic will of all of the people on this island, to effect real change national democracy and sovereignty must be restored to the people of Ireland. We have two failed states on this island with two failed political institutions who do not serve the interests of the people they purport to represent, the Leinster house and Stormont assemblies were established by the English crown to suppress the democratic Republic. The members of both of these institutions have enforced EU and british tory austerity policies on the people , its members are united only through their sense of entitlement , privilege , their greed and avarice. The All-Ireland Republic must be restored based on the principles of the 1916 Proclamation and the Programme for government of the first Dail. The democratic deficit on this island will only be addressed when the right of the Irish people to self-determination is upheld.
Ireland has a full blown homelessness, eviction and housing crisis. the government here is in denial they still refuse to acknowledge that we have a national emergency. This crisis is not an accident it is a result of the commoditisation of the Irish housing market, government and judicial collusion in home evictions, the abdication of government responsibility to build affordable social housing, a complete failure to cap spiralling rents and a total lack of regulation to protect tenants, the reliance on the charity sector to provide services to homeless people with addiction and special care needs. The result of this is that 2500 children are living in emergency accommodation in hotels and B+B’s.
Michael Noonan as Minister for Finance rolled out the red carpet for vulture funds to buy distressed mortgages at heavy discounts; they pay little or no tax on the vast profits they are exporting out of the country. As many as 90,000 Irish loans are now in the claws of vulture funds one of the largest tranche of 15.000 loans were sold as part of the liquidation of IRBC.
They are not just after our homes, they are now coming after our land and farms. Hundreds of family farms face repossession as financial institutions offload distressed loans, Ulster bank recently sold €2.5 billion of agricultural loans to US vulture fund Cerberus. The same vultures involved in the controversial sale of the NAMA portfolio in the north. Other vultures are queuing up to buy up agri-loans. Farmers were encouraged to invest in the dairy sector to take advantage of the abolition of milk quotas. Milk prices have fallen through the floor with farmers barely covering the cost of production. Simon Coveney as minister for agriculture was the chief cheerleader encouraging farmers to borrow to increase herd sizes and milk production infrastructure. We call on farmers and rural communities to join with us, your fight is our fight .Our fight is your fight.
We are calling for recognition that the right to a home is a basic human right with constitutional guarantees to such effect:
‣ A declaration of a national housing emergency‣ A moratorium on all family home evictions
‣ An across the board mortgage write-down based on the successful Icelandic model
‣ The removal of all rights of vulture funds to profiteer from the misery of families
‣ The repeal of the 2013 land and conveyancing law reform act and the 2016 courts bill
‣ A nationwide programme to build affordable social housing partly funded by retrospective taxation on vulture funds and tax avoiding corporations including the billions owed by Apple to this state
‣ An immediate programme to utilise vacant properties particularly boarded up council houses and NAMA properties to eliminate the use of hotels and B&B’s for homeless families‣ The establishment of a national body to replace the ad-hoc system of charitable organisations dealing with homeless people
Since the establishment of this state, successive governments have allowed foreign corporations to exploit our natural resources for profit with little or no benefit to the Irish economy, the most recent example being the Corrib gas field. All over the island of Ireland vast profits from the mining of zinc, gold, diamonds, lithium and other minerals are flowing into the coffers of multi-national corporations. The Irish fishing industry has been decimated by an EU enforced quota system, billions of euros are lost to the economy each year. Traditional fishing communities have been devastated while foreign super trawlers plunder our fish stocks.
We are calling for:
‣ the nationalisation of the Corrib gas field
‣ The establishment of a national exploration agency based on the Norwegian state oil model‣ All wealth derived from our natural resources must be used for the benefit of the Irish people
The health care system is totally dysfunctional, the last number of weeks saw record numbers of people lying on hospital trolleys. Hundreds of thousands of patients are waiting for vital operations and procedures. Successive governments have presided over shocking neglect of the healthcare system. The closure of hospital bed and the downgrading of rural hospitals and A&E’s, Failure to deliver on commitments made to deal with overcrowding in emergency departments and an exodus of Irish nurses and doctors have all contributed to the crisis. We believe that this is a deliberate policy to decimate the healthcare system driving more and more people to seek private healthcare for their basic needs, it is no coincidence that Denis O Brien is investing in private hospitals.
We are calling for investment in our healthcare system where our people are treated on their needs rather than ability to pay.
We wish to commend the grassroots activists and volunteers who took part in the Apollo house occupation ( some of whom are here with us today ) . The occupation highlighted a very specific aspect of the homelessness crisis, it completely exposed the lies of Dublin city council that there is an abundant supply of suitable accommodation and hostels to cater for rough sleepers with special social and healthcare needs.
I will leave you with words from James Connolly
The Irishman frees himself from slavery when he realises the truth that the capitalist system is the most foreign thing in Ireland, the Irish question is a social question. The whole age long fight of the Irish people against their oppressors resolves itself in the last analysis into a fight for the mastery of the means of life, the sources of production, in Ireland. Who would control the land ? The people or the invader; and if the invaders, which set of them – the most recent swarm of land thieves.or the sons of the thieves of a former generation.