Interview: Cork Social Welfare Defenders


Workers Solidarity spoke to Dave Higgins of the recently formed Cork Social Welfare Defenders.

WS Who’s in the group, what’s your reason for organising?

DH “The group consists of unemployed and other social welfare recipients, disabled , pensioners etc. We were formed to defend the welfare state and make sure that the poorest in society are looked after. With all the attacks by the government on the poorest we had a choice, lie down and take it or get organised and fight back.”

WS What sort of activities do you get up to?

DH “We have been involved in several protests. Most famously we occupied Anglo Irish bank and mobilised for the IWU march against the budget. We had a speaker at that demo too. We have further actions in the pipeline.”

WS How did you get organised?

DH “We do stalls and leafletting at the Labour Exchange and invite people to meetings from there. There has been a great response to this and it’s proved a great way of engaging with people. Initially we were mostly politicos but this has broadened out a lot. Everyone is welcome regardless of their affiliation once they hold with our aims, we are on the go about 4 months.”

WS What are the numbers involved like?

DH “We have had meetings with up to 50 along, numbers vary depending on the activity , but we definitely have a degree of recognition and support amongst the unemployed now.”

WS Beyond defending welfare any other ideas?

DH “ We would like to see state aid to co-operative or voluntary projects set up and run by unemployed workers. This should be socially ehancing work. They would have to be run by people off the dole not bureaucrats or civil servants, we don’t want to be fodder for the likes of IBEC and ISME, with their work for free schemes. We have ideas and skills by the score, what we need is the money to get projects up and running. “

WS Your own situation?

DH “I’m 49 and highly qualified, but experience can tell against you that’s the truth. I’m not optimistic, could be 10 years before economy picks up.”

This article is from Workers Solidarity 120 - March April 2011