Irish Chamber of Commerce Puts Profit Before Right to Protest


The spokesperson for the Irish Chamber of Commerce has said 'We'd never deny people the right to protest - but the protest has to be done and managed in a way that causes minimal disruption to businesses', citing revenue lost by the massive anti-water charges demonstration on December 10th.

We cannot tolerate such anti-democratic statements. The crux of this position is that we can have some semblance of democratic rights and freedoms, but we have to remember that money comes first. The essential condition is that businesses have the maximum ability to make profits, even if it means curtailing protest.

The view of the Chamber - a mouthpiece and lobbying group for the capitalist class - seems somewhat reasonable on the surface. However, we must realise that to have any kind of democracy at all we have to get our priorities straight. Democracy cannot merely squeeze itself into the crevices left by big business. It must have the highest priority, and we ought to recognise that this is the 'price' of democracy.

This includes protest (and hence demonstrations). Protest is vital to democracy, not an optional add-on. In fact in this parliamentary political system, which is not very democratic in form at all, protest is our best means of popular political activity and close to our only means.

So the question is if we really want profit to take a priority over mass political self-expression. We would say 'definitely not'. Beware of those who say 'you have the right to protest, but' just as you would with those who say 'I'm not racist, but'.

The next big anti-water charges demonstration (which will no doubt ruffle the feathers of the Chamber of Commerce) is on January 31st.