People Power! Pensioners show the way

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What we were witnessing was a clear demonstration of people power in action. The government was in a panic and was drastically hurtling to reverse the medical card decision. And when this meeting was followed up 24 hours later with a demonstration of 15,000 organised by the Senior Citizens Parliament and another 15,000-strong student demonstration against the re-introduction of 3rd level fees it was obvious that politics in Ireland had changed drastically.

“This Budget serves no vested interest. Rather, it provides an opportunity for us all to pull together and play our part according to our means so that we can secure the gains which have been the achievement of the men and women of this country. It is, a Cheann Comhairle, no less than a call to patriotic action.”

With these words, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan concluded his Budget speech in the Dáil on Tuesday 21st October. Just a week later Lenihan and his colleagues were left in no doubt whatsoever what people thought of his ‘call to patriotic action’. At a meeting organised by Age Action to allow people to vent their anger at the decision to withdraw the automatic right to medical cards from over-70s, Minister of State at the Department of Health, John Moloney stood up in St. Andrew’s Church, Westland Row, Dublin. To howls of outrage and amid a cacophony of boos he was forced to withdraw and, quite literally, was sent packing.

What we were witnessing was a clear demonstration of people power in action. The government was in a panic and was drastically hurtling to reverse the medical card decision. And when this meeting was followed up 24 hours later with a demonstration of 15,000 organised by the Senior Citizens Parliament and another 15,000-strong student demonstration against the re-introduction of 3rd level fees it was obvious that politics in Ireland had changed drastically.

What has been shown is that people power can work, that the sort of ‘patriotic action’ that is required is our standing together to demand change. The government is attempting to sell us the lie that the current economic crisis is some sort of natural disaster and that we must all equally take the pain. Happily many are refusing to buy this lie. The ‘economic crisis’ is a direct result of the neo-liberal economic policies pursued by governments across the so-called ‘developed world’ for the past 20 years.

Those who made the gains should now be feeling the pain. Banks and property developers have lapped up the cream through the years of the Celtic Tiger. They gave the two fingers to any concept of ‘patriotic action’ as they salted away obscene amounts of profits. So forget Lenihan’s ‘patriotism’ and embrace the spirit of the over-70s. Fight Back. Don’t let them pin the failures of capitalism on our shoulders.


From Workers Solidarity 106, Nov 2008

Northern Issue Southern Issue

Click on one of the thumbnails for an PDF version of the northern or southern edition of Workers Solidarity 106 which can be printed out on eight A4 pages.

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