Report on the 1st 1% tour - 1% of the Population, 34% of the Wealth

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Countless walking tours make their way around Dublin daily; generally educating the masses of tourists on the lives lived on these streets before us. It was a different kind of walking tour, comprising around 200 people, that hit the streets around Stephen’s Green on October 9th last.

The ‘1% Political Walking Tour through the Heartland of the Golden Circle’, organised by the One Percent Network, was not about the battles of yesteryear or the celebrities of yore. Rather, it set out to both highlight the shocking statistics behind wealth distribution in Ireland and to name and shame individuals who are living in decadent mansions in Dublin 2 & 4, while their debts are bought out by NAMA since the poor darlings can’t afford to pay them back. One amongst them was Johnny Ronan, one of the co-owners of Treasury Holdings. Better known for his romantic exploits with celebrity models, Johnny has been building up a considerable bill for Irish tax payers to pay off.

Also stopping at the houses of Dermot Desmond and Tony O’Reilly, as well as the private banking headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland, this tour sidestepped the Dail and Department of Finance and instead brought the public to the houses and institutions where real wealth lies. According to those financial experts, the Bank of Ireland, 1% of the Irish population own 34% of the wealth in our society, figures at odds with the ‘accepted’ truth that we’re all broke. Clearly some people are not broke at all, quite the opposite in fact.

The Workers Solidarity Movement is centrally involved in the organisation of the One Percent Network, which was initiated by a number of left wing groups in the aftermath of many less than successful marches and rallies initiated by unions, political organisations and lobby groups. Protests have for a long time been directed at the central political institutions in this country and, while the rationale behind this tactic is clear, they have failed to show any real results. We have not seen any retreat by the Government in its policies of increased cutbacks across public services. For a lot of people, this seems to have left them with a sense of powerlessness and disillusionment. So, maybe the time has come to question our tactics, to go back to the drawing board and look for new and inventive ways to ensure that our position, and that of most people in society, is heard.

On September 29th, an indebted builder drove a cement truck, painted with ‘Toxic Bank Anglo’, to the gates of the Dail. Morning radio was electrified and a facebook group entitled ‘A really big thank you to the driver of the cement truck at the Dail’ reached over 18,000 members within a couple of days. Speakers at the One Percent Walking Tour asked the participants to question their own position on the crisis and ask themselves what they were willing to do to be heard. Would they be willing to carry out further actions or support a general strike, what do they think needs to be done? We all need to ask ourselves the same question.

The One Percent Network is keen to avoid the usual marches and rallies and thus will continue its campaign with a Halloween Treasure Hunt in Ballsbridge. Further events will be planned around the Budget. If you would like to get involved you can contact the Workers Solidarity Movement for more information or you can contact the One Percent Network directly by emailing onepercentnetwork@gmail.com

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