Monday 23 February 2015

Do we now exist only to serve the constitution and support the economy?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m very grateful to have the freedom to write this; to have my complaints about the government and the ills of western society published in a newspaper and then go to bed, without fear of police coming to take me away in the night.

No, they’ll come and arrest me first thing in the morning, six of them. That seems to be current protocol in Ireland, or at least it has been recently, for Irish politicians who dare to protest.

I'm not a hot-blooded teenager any more. In my youth I saw the world in black and white. ‘This’ was all wrong and ‘that’ was completely right, and anyone who failed to see the same truths as me bore the brunt of my anger.

One attitude that annoyed me more than anything else back then was the patronising tap on the head, followed by the assertion:

“You’ll grow out of it! Of course you feel like that now, but when you’re a bit older, we’ll see how you feel then, eh?”

Well hello! Here I am! There’s a lot more years behind me than I’ll ever have in front of me, but my ideals are still intact. Of course they’re tempered by a cynicism born out of decades of experience, but you’ll never take away my dreams.

If you give up on your dreams, they cease to exist.

These days I know why things happen when they shouldn't, and why they don't when they should, but that makes neither wrong right, nor me happy.

I’m just back from England where we celebrated my lovely Mum’s 86th birthday. Politics always has a place at our family’s dinner table, and there was much talk of the situation in Greece.

Londoners completely fail to understand how life is for people living in EU bailout countries. They repeatedly told me how Ireland is okay now; that it’s the southern European countries that have the problem.

I suggested that there’s more to life than growth in GDP. Unemployment statistics will never reveal the deep sense of injustice and anger we feel at having to pay off debts incurred by greedy speculators.

“Ah, but if you borrow money, you have to pay it back!” my family reminded me, ignorant of the fact that down on the street, we didn’t see a penny of those bailout billions. While they mocked the naivety of Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza government, I wondered what on earth has happened to democracy?

What is the point in voting if the wishes of the vast majority are utterly dismissed, just so that Angela Merkel, Mario Draghi and Christine Lagarde are happy?

It seems to me that we the people are no longer served by the economy, but ruled by it. Europeans are no longer served by governments, but by the Troika and Free Market pirates. While democratically-elected politicians in Greece are being bullied by the ECB and intimidated by the EU, hypocrites like Enda Kenny talk pompously about how the Greeks should follow the Irish model.

Which model is that, Enda? Protect rampantly avaricious gamblers by screwing over the weakest, the ill, the young, the old and the disabled?

The Troika and the German governement have gone to war with the poorest people of Europe, and now the people of Greece and Spain are demanding to be more important than the economy.

Our financial reality is that we the people are now irrelevant.
All that matters is the economy.

Well, no, not quite. There’s also the rule of law to consider, yet once again it was the public  who became trampled in the politicians’ rush to decide that the Irish constitution is more important than the Irish people.

Ignoring both common sense and compassion, Irish politicians refused to vote for Clare Daly’s bill on the issue of fatal foetal abnormality, on the grounds it was ‘unconstitutional.’ Despite being elected to the Dáil to represent us, they resisted the chance to vote with their consciences and represented the constitution instead.

As I said before, I fully understand why they did this. I'm neither stupid nor a blind idealist, but what part of the word ‘fatal‘ don’t they understand? 

Given that they could have made a difference, why did they choose instead to live in a country where some pregnant women who are asked when their babies are due, have no choice but to reply:

“Well actually, it’s going to die.”

Over the last few weeks I’ve heard everyone from an Taoiseach to Pat Kenny moaning about how Clare Daly’s bill opened the door to what they dismissively described as:

“...all those other issues like rape and incest.”

Yes, it did, thank goodness.
Who would condemn a person to live their life as the product of rape or incest?

When I first arrived in this country 23 years ago I wrote arrogantly and ignorantly in this Noble Rag about abortion, and for my trouble was sent in the mail used condoms, a dog turd and crass pictures of monkey foetuses in dustbins.

Now I understand that the subject requires sensitivity, and peoples’ beliefs require respect. Yet still I cannot understand how so many politicians chose to vote without compassion, caring more for the written word of a 30 year-old amendment than the sanity of yet another generation of women, forced to carry death in their wombs and hopelessness in their hearts.

Then I remembered that only last year this same government was guilty of the abomination that insisted on keeping a technically dead woman alive against her family's wishes, because of the foetus, that could never be born, in her womb.

Until our representatives have the the courage to vote for the good of the people instead of arcane laws, reform will remain an abstract notion.

So with the government in Greece reduced to an impotent committee and the choices of the people here ignored, I wonder:
Do we now exist only to serve the constitution and support the economy?

Have we lost both our minds and our freedoms?

©Charlie Adley

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