Ending the Kenny/Gilmore Regime – Stage One

In my recent blog post, entitled “No Person Left Behind – Ending the Kenny/Gilmore Regime“, I set out the current situation as it stands around Ireland’s political situation – I also made it clear that the only acceptable result should be the end of the current government.

Irish people are brilliant at organising. We can put together groups for all sorts of concerns, but often what seems to be lacking is something larger – something more broad and wide-reaching to bring people of varying views together. Often, movements of protest against the government fall in t0 in-fighting. To often, we focus on our differences instead of focussing on what unites us as a people.

Often, many will say that there is no plan. Well, as per my previous posts and tweets, I do have a plan – and here it is:

After time spent observing the Irish political environment, I have developed a plan along the guidelines of Dr Gene Sharp’s “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action“. These guidelines have been put to use around the world, and I fully believe that the right combination of them can lead to the change we need here in Ireland. You’ll find many of the methods suggested below in the above list.

I must make it abundantly clear at this point that what begins here cannot belong to any party. The suggestions made, and the plan that I will suggest we all follow, do not belong to any organisation or any party. It belongs simply to the people of this island.

How much or little you take part is entirely up to you. I provide the framework and trust in the people of this island to make use of it as they see fit.

I define at this point our goal:

To bring about enough coordinated protest across the entirety of the country to cause the Fine Gael/Labour government to lose the support of its TDs, to the point at which a General Election must be called

If you wish to work beyond this goal, that is your prerogative. To this point, I urge you to work together with other like-minded people.

I present this framework to you.

Stage One

Slogans, caricatures, and symbols

The basic building block of a broad people’s movement against this regime must be the slogans, caricatures and symbols around which it can base itself. These provide rallying points, something which we can see and know that, despite our geographic or political differences, we all share these common symbols. I suggest the following:

  • The Harp – the harp has been a symbol of Ireland and its people for longer than any of us have been alive. It is a well-known symbol of our people and also of our state. Enda Kenny and his regime left the harp out of the theme of Ireland’s presidency of the EU this year. I believe that this symbol can be ours again, and represent unity.
  • #EndTheRegime – in the age of social media, its important for any broad movement of people to have a hashtag around which it can rally. My suggestion for this is #EndTheRegime, representing our public wish to see an end to the regime of Enda Kenny & Eamon Gilmore. The power of this hashtag, if it is put into every single tweet against this government, could be immense. We could have it trending within a very short space of time. This hashtag may seem long, but I feel that is necessary.
  • Resistance. This simple word represents the very basis of what we are doing as a people in wishing to bring about the end of this regime. Though it may be associated with groups in the political spectrum, it is far more than that – resistance is a frame of mind, not simply a word to be written on a placard.
  • No Person Left Behind – these words represent the belief that no person should be left behind in Ireland. No person should be left to fend for themselves, no person should be forgotten by change.

Banners, posters, and displayed communications

Any broad movement hoping to bring together groups from across society must be visual – it must be seen, and felt wherever possible – and that means outside of social media, too. We can bring the campaign off social media and physically into the streets of every village, town and city. How we can do it is as follows:

  • Stickers - made en masse and displayed around every village, town and city, displaying the Harp symbol and the words “Resistance”, as well as #EndTheRegime and “No Person Left Behind”. Stickers are versatile, able to be put in place quickly. Overnight, or over a period of days, they can appear on lampposts and other places where people will see them. No major work needed to put them up.
  • Posters – the hallmark of any movement against any government, posters of varying size and scope could be set up at public intersections, providing it is safe and legal to do so. Like the stickers, these would incorporate the Harp symbol, as well as #EndTheRegime and/or “Resitance”/”No Person Left Behind”. The making of these posters could become a co-operative effort by any community across the country.
    They could also be carried on protest marches, along with the posters already held by all the various protest groups around the country.

Records, radio, and television

It can be very difficult for any protest movement to make it onto the national airwaves or TV. This would apply even more so to a broad banner of opposition, which is why we would have to provide our own alternative – instead of media from the top down, we could create media from the ground up  using varying methods of streaming and internet broadcasting, many of which are used in other places around the world already – such as in Spain – each person can become a source of news. Though we already have a common source of public news – Twitter – this source can be better used. We would have end the public reliance on networks like RTE and TV3, and provide our own alternatives.

  • Streaming Networks - Accounts could be set up on streaming websites like ustream.com which could allow people to bring their local protest to a wider audience. Anyone with a camera and an internet connection could do this. As more and more people take up the streaming cause, each one could be networked together through twitter and the use of our hashtag, #EndTheRegime – before we know it, we could have a connected group of people all over the country, live-streaming events in their own locality as they happen. With this, people on one side of the country could actually see and hear what is happening on the other side.
  • Public Information Meetings – The internet is not a universal thing. There are many people around the country who do not have access to it. Where many movements fall down is trying to keep a campaign up while not communicating their message offline. Our broad protest movement, encompassing all people, would be bigger than that.
    If one active person in every village, town and city, held a meeting once a week – in a public hall or even in a pub, in which they simply update people without internet connections on what is happening in their locality and beyond, it would give the true feeling that everyone matters. News of a march in Cork might be reported in a small village in north Louth, for example. Everyone would know what is happening. All it takes is a few like-minded people to spread the word.

Symbolic Lights

In thinking of unique protest ideas, many different ways to register displeasure came to mind. There is one, though, which really caught my eye and I really believe it could work.

  • The Torch Protest – in the world of non-violent protest, new ideas must constantly be brought forward in order to ensure that the regime cannot become closed off from the rallies that happen before them. My suggestion of a new method of protest is the electric torch protest.
    Shining light on darkness has always been a metaphor for opening up a world that is away from the public eye. I suggest a protest using electric torches, shined as a group on government and Fine Gael/Labour Party offices for a short period of time at night, only done under safe conditions. Picture any protest at night, and imagine a torch in the hand of every person, or even just the light from a phone or a lighter if necessary – pointed at the building in question. A concentrated mass of light, from which Kenny, Gilmore and the regime would be unable to hide. It might seem far-fetched, but so have many protests in Irish history.

Protest Meetings

In many villages, towns and cities across this island, there have been protest groups set up for varying reasons. Many of them are vastly different in origin and numbers of people involved. You’ll often find groups of similar outlook working together. Some groups already have a national structure, but remain separate from any others.

  • Neighbourhood/Village/Town/City Coordination Committees - committees could be set up, from the most basic neighbourhood level to others encompassing towns. The goal of these committees would be to bring the various protest groups within their locality together for the purposes of protesting to bring about the end of the Kenny/Gilmore regime. With this one end goal in mind, the common points of every group in every locality could be brought to the fore.
    Opposition to this government is the one thing which many groups share. If their differences could be put aside for this task, the power would be unbelievable – and it would be power in the hands of not one person, but all people, organised fairly together for this goal.

The Sovereign People

As per my previous post, many people may find all of the above to be unrealistic. Many may read these ideas and think that there is no point – that the situation will right itself. I am here, committed to the belief that we can only fix the situation ourselves. We, the people of this island.
We have to remember that no party, individual or organisation “owns” this country. No party, individual or organisation can lay claim to its heritage or the right to rule it or choose its destiny.

The right to rule this land belongs exclusively to the people. Its destiny is ours to choose.

A Dynamic Plan

I provide this plan to you all as a basis – a spark to begin something. Whether you choose to implement any of its ideas is entirely your choice, as a person. I simply ask for your help, because this is not something which I or any person could do alone.

If you wish to take part in this plan and work towards the end of the Kenny/Gilmore regime, I am always here willing to assist in whatever way I can. My contact details are as follows, and I would be honoured to help any of you towards the goal of ending the Kenny/Gilmore regime.

Feel free to message me at any time.

If you agree with what you have read here, please use the buttons below the post to help spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, etc – every Re-Tweet, Like, Share and Post helps the movement to spread.

Thank you for reading.

Mark Meehan, 19/01/2013

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No Person Left Behind – Ending the Kenny/Gilmore Regime

Some time ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “The Abandoned Citizen“. In this post, I talked about the sorry state of the Irish healthcare system and the plight of those who are waiting long-term for medical care. Since then, changing circumstances have moved the situation much further forward.

Last night (15/16th of January) was a particularly cold night. News had just broken about two elderly people who had died of the cold. As the facts on that particular case were being put together, it brought a broader debate into the front of people’s minds.

How many people in Ireland were cold last night? How many will be cold tonight?

Since the budget of December 5th 2012, the Irish people have been hit with yet more cuts in a time when people are struggling to get by on what little they have. The looming ghost this year is the Property Tax, a terrifying prospect for anyone living on the edge of starvation.

Ireland in 2013 is not a positive place. The people were lectured on negativity by Minister Pat Rabbitte on TV quite recently, with the Minister himself seeming oblivious to the role which his own party is playing in creating that negativity. The air is of a nation crushed under a debt that was not ours, by a government who betrayed us, with little or no end in sight. No, the negativity is not our own doing as a people. The negativity comes from the world which was engineered by Fianna Fáil, and continues to be carried forward by the Fine Gael/Labour alliance of broken promises.

The vulnerable in our society are left to fend largely for themselves. There are elderly people in rural Ireland who cannot count on the security of their own homes. Other people of similar age must make heartbreaking decisions between heating or food. There are children in this country who have had to go to bed or school hungry. Soup kitchens have been set up, as more and more people feel the hopelessness of having little money and the light of better things fading.

All of this happens while our government pay themselves and the cadre of high-ranking financial personnel across the sector salaries that are beyond any belief or reason. Enda Kenny’s 200k a year salary seems so grotesque, when one considers how many people on this island must go without necessities on a daily basis. It’s not fair on the Irish people.

It is well known that promises were broken by the parties which now sit in government. They went through the gates of Leinster House on a wave of popular support, having made grandiose statements of defiance against any who would seek to control Ireland – “Not Another Cent” & “Frankfurt’s way or Labour’s way“. They vowed a new politics, a change away from what we had known and suffered through before. I, and many others, put my faith in this change.

Instead, these parties hijacked the public trust. Instead of defiance, there came continuation. The line and difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael/Labour slowly blurred as the Irish people came to realise that they had been duped – the times had not changed, the political landscape was no different. The only difference was who was sitting on which side of the Dáil chamber.

The Budget on December 5th last was the real re-enforcement of the reality. Many could perhaps have ignored the betrayal of trust by the government parties before. However, no-one could ignore what was to come in this budget. The poor suffered most, while the cadre of politicians and financial personnel stood unchallenged. No pay cuts to the government. No protection of the vulnerable. Just more progress down a path which should never have been charted in the first place.

No person, regardless of age or any other factor, should be cold, hungry and scared at night – not in a country where it could be helped. Our elderly people, who have worked so hard through their lives for our country, should never be abandoned. They should not be faced with a choice between food or health.

Too many people in this country are faced with choices/situations which they should not have to have in front of them in the first place.

There is always a Choice

People talk of the financial times we are in. We are told time again that we are broke. We are told that this is “reality” and there is “no choice” but to suffer cutbacks.

If there really was “no choice”, Enda Kenny and our government would be earning a fraction of what they do now.

The fact of the matter is that there is always a choice. We are not compelled to sit down and simply accept the situation.

Many people might ask “what’s the point?” – they may deride anyone who tries to stand up and make a difference. To any such people, I would say this – the unfairness of our current regime may not have an effect on you now. One day, however, the cuts will reach you. Someone you know will shed tears over not having enough money to feed their children. Perhaps an elderly relative of yours will be the one making the choice between food or health. One day, perhaps sooner than you think, it will not be so distant. What will you do then?

I want to rally the people of this country to stand up and say “this far and no further”. It’s already happening all around you. Groups of all shapes and sizes are being set up.

The citizenry of Ireland is organising itself.

The End of the Regime

The end result of our gathering protests cannot be simply calling out to the government behind the gates of Leinster House.

For the sake of Ireland, for the sake of its people, the regime of Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore must go. I mean this in no uncertain terms. The only remotely acceptable outcome of our protests should be the total collapse of their regime.

It was built on lies, but the truth will bring it down.

I pledge my service to Ireland and the Irish people. I pledge myself to do whatever I can to defend the vulnerable in our society and to bring about a better country, the one which we as a people deserve. It is within our reach to make possible. The country was effectively stolen from us, it’s high time that we take to our streets and make 2013 the year in which we take it back.

I urge you to organise. You can message me and we can work together, or you can gather with your community and make a difference your own way. I just ask that we all work towards the same goal.

So begins the march to the end of this regime.

No person hungry.

No person cold.

No person scared.

No person left behind.

There is always a choice.

- Mark Meehan, 16/01/2013 – @MarcasPadraig

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Quinn’s Third Level – Soup Kitchens & Students Going Hungry

I read several articles today which gave me cause to pause from my work and reflect. Ruari Quinn, the Minister for Education here in Ireland, has presided over a very harsh regime of cuts to third-level education at a time when the government also likes to tout the benefits of Ireland’s young and educated workforce.

Student Universal Support Ireland, better known as SUSI, has been an absolute debacle in its management of Ireland’s third level grants. As many of you reading this will know, third-level grants are often the only things which allow many students to attend college. I myself have been a recipient of third level grants over the years, which have allowed me to further my third-level education. Their value cannot be underestimated.

SUSI has become a byword for waiting, for failure and for despair – thanks to its failure to process grant requests in sufficient time, many students have been watching their financial reserves run dry as they have been attending college in the hope of SUSI’s help providing the light at the end of the tunnel.

For many thousands, unfortunately, the help has not come. Even at this stage of the year, with one semester about to end and another about to begin, many students still await word of this grant – of any help that might be coming on the horizon. Instead, they get more requests for more and more forms which they have already submitted. The consequences of this wait, though, have really begun to become apparent.

In a story carried on TheJournal.ie and the Irish Times today, it was revealed to the broader public that some students are having to rely on handouts of food from Student Unions in order to survive. To put it simply, their money has just run out. In 2013, in a western-European country, we have students who are going hungry – relying on free food boxes and soup kitchens to survive.

I must reiterate that sentence. We have students who are  going hungry  - relying on free food boxes and soup kitchens to survive.

The actions by this government against education are well known, but now the real effect is beginning to be felt. Insult is added to injury for postgraduate students also, due to the fact that even if grants are awarded – they are for fees only, not for living expenses. While having the fees paid for to some degree is definitely something to be positive about – the lack of a maintenance grant alongside this fee payment means that many students cannot afford to even make the trip to go to college.

Its a frightening mixture of lies, deceit and incompetence. Promises have been broken to students, fees are still going up and we have a government that is standing by and watching our young people emigrate, taking whatever education they have to another country.

Many of the people I know at my age have made the decision to leave or are planning on it. Ireland’s third-level is falling apart and this government doesn’t seem to care. This is the legacy of Quinn’s Third Level.

Mark Meehan, 07/01/2013

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2013 – The protest continues

2013 has been rung in to the sound of a crushing budget. As people bid farewell to 2012 and the trials and tribulations that went with it, we face into another year with a government which is walking a knife edge as support drips away.

The Labour Party, the junior party in our governing coalition has been facing public anger as many of its members voted with the government to pass an extremely harsh budget.

There have signs of resistance, though. The Chairperson of the Labour Party, Colm Keaveney, has joined a list of Labour TDs who are seeing their party moving away from their root beliefs.

In 2013, with the true colours of this government’s policy now truly on show, we may see more and more TDs question the direction in which Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore are taking this country. That, coupled with the powerful protests which we will see on the streets, may bring about the kind of change we so badly need.

We are now into Ireland’s six-month EU presidency. The government should not be allowed to brush aside the impact of their actions against their own people in this time. We won’t allow it.

See you on the streets.

Mark Meehan, 01/01/2013

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The Abandoned Citizen

Tonight, the country is watching the unfolding situation around Dr James Reilly, the Minister for Health, and his relationship with a primary care centre development in the north of Dublin – his own constituency.

The primary care centre fiasco has been dominating Irish politics, but behind the political points-scoring and rhetoric are the people who have been suffering as a result of our broken health service.

As many people in Ireland are aware, our health system in a terrible state. Stories about patients lining the hallways of hospitals and waiting lists echo around from person to person, and it builds to an image of a people who are often abandoned – or, at the very least, abandoned if they cannot afford private health fare.

Jennifer Banks (@Jensteve on twitter) is an Irish woman. Like any other Irish person, she should be looked after by the health service of her own country. She, like innumerable other people is in need of medical treatment, urgently. She, like others, has been left on a waiting list in an endless circle of hope and disappointment.

Cuts in the health service have meant that chronic pain issues are not seen as urgent and in need of immediate attention. This is the health service under the overall leadership of Dr Reilly.

The end result of this is that Jennifer is waiting, in pain, for the health service to tend to her. Unfortunately, her calls have gone unanswered by the powers that be. She has been abandoned.

What kind of country is this that lets a person suffer?

It angers me greatly like our government would allow anyone to suffer. Jennifer and others have been failed.

Please tweet this post as far as you can, please do whatever you can to raise awareness of the abandoned people of our country.

No person should have to wait, in pain, for help by the public health services.

Lets tweet the hashtag #helpJennifer to get awareness raised for her, and by extension everyone else who is suffering because of health service cuts.

We can do this. #helpJennifer

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Seven Rights – A Blueprint for a new Republic

There have been many attempts at creating a political alternative in Ireland. The concept is noble, and I believe that, over the past two years, the Irish people have mobilised in a way not seen for generations. The Irish nation is truly awake, and thanks to social media, it is far more connected than it has ever been.

The tried and failed model of Irish politics, which has been followed to the letter since the battles lines were drawn during the Irish Civil War, has proved to be a failure. None of what is written here is new, but here it is again from the keyboard of a citizen who has found the point at which enough is enough.

The Republic of Ireland, which I will hereafter refer to as “this jurisdiction”, has become a state which does not cater to the needs of its citizenry. While it may seem, outwardly, that it is a successful state, the fact is that many people in this jurisdiction have not been protected and cared for as per the duty of a real government of the people. The supposed success experienced has come as a direct result of the suffering of a section of the populace. Namely, those who earn the lowest of incomes. To put a figure, I will define this section as being those who earn less than €100,000 per annum.

As I write this, vicious cuts to the health system in this jurisdiction are threatening to be the straw that will break the backs of the Irish people. The government is already showing signs of imminent collapse as the Labour Party, the junior partner in the coalition, prepares for a general election.

In 2012, with our government seemingly on the brink of collapse and draconian financial measures crippling those in society who have suffered most while sparing the wealthy, it has to be asked – what kind of a state is this?

For too long, the Irish people have sustained pain with the vague hope of some kind of far-away economic recovery on the horizon. Indeed, with the election of this government in 2011, many people felt that the road towards financial stability and fair treatment was nearing its end. But, it has become the unfortunate situation that while those who earn high amounts of money still go without paying their fair share of the burden, those on the lowest incomes continue to suffer to the brink of desperation. For many, this situation has already driven them to a point at which they feel that they literally cannot go on. We have lost many people this way. This is deplorable.

A political alternative is often spoken about, but it has taken time for the concept to gain traction as we seek to move away from the old-style politics of our grandfathers and grandmothers’ generation. The times have changed, but Ireland and its system have not moved with them. We are still dictated to by a group of people for whom personally financial need is not a current problem. It has to be said that, of course, some of our current government may have known financial pain in the past. But this is 2012, we are in the midst of one of the worst economic eras of recent times. The gulf between the rich and the poor in this country has widened too far in a time when austerity, pain inflicted on those who can least afford to take it, seems to be the order of the day. Those in power do not understand.

There have been many political alternatives offered up over the years. Some have taken to the skies, others haven’t. We have a culture in this country of one person. One person is expected to know the answer to every problem, and it is this approach which is costing us our national wellbeing. We need to remember that the nation is what is important. One person is nothing without the people around them.

We are the ordinary people. We of many nationalities. We of many creeds. We of many backgrounds. We are collectively the people of this island. We are Ireland.

I offer you in this document, my view on the alternative. Do I have the answer to every question? No. Am I an economist? No. Am I an expert in every field that would be required to save this nation? No. I am one person, but you who are reading this are the nation. As a nation, we have all the experts we will ever need. We just need to open our eyes and see this.

The Rights of the People

The following is a collection of my views on how our Republic should go into the future:

  1. The Right to Safe Abode: In a modern country like Ireland, every single person deserves a place to sleep at night that is clean, safe and warm. In a country where our national politicians retire on massive pensions, it is a crime that any person should be homeless or hungry.
  2. The Right to Fair Taxes: In a modern country like Ireland, taxes should be fair and set to the ability of those who can pay. No person should face the decision between buying food or paying a tax. We do face economic hardship, but we need to carry out our recovery in the best possible way – thus ensuring that our recovery does not come at a cost of people’s wellbeing.
  3. The Right to Equal Treatment for Children: Though the Irish state has taken steps towards this with the coming Children’s Right Referendum, the rights of children should always be in the forefront of our national consciousness. Any process should be expedited for the good of all generations of children, present and to come. No child should ever go hungry or without care. No child should ever feel alone.
  4. The Right to Protection for the Elderly: The elderly people of our country deserve our utmost respect and care. No elderly person should feel that they are alone. No elderly person should feel abandoned. Nor should elderly people have to make the choice between medication or living costs. In a modern country like Ireland, we should be able to look after the older generations and ensure that they live a life of dignity. They have given so much to our nation over the years – it is the very least we can do to ensure their fair treatment.
  5. The Right to Fair Representation: For too long, our governments have been dictating to us, instead of representing us. TDs in political parties, for the most part, seem to be more loyal to their parties than to the people who elected them. We need representatives that will actually echo the sentiment of those who elect them. We need democracy at grassroots level.
    We need representatives to put their constituents above their party.
  6. The Right to Healthcare: The people have the right to health care as they need it. Those who must avail of the public health system for financial reasons must be given the best possible medical care. For too long, the two-tier system of this country has benefitted the rich while leaving those with less money without proper care. Hospitals are closing, beds are disappearing, people are being left to languish in poorly organised and deplorable conditions.
    No person should go without healthcare. If people are sick, they should be looked after. The cost of this care should be made up by fair taxes.
  7. The Right to Services: In this country, we are not given the level of service which we require. Healthcare, schooling and all public services should be paid for and funded properly by taxes. Any kind of local tax should be given to this provision of services. It should never be used to pay private debt. It should never be used for anything order than seeing to the people’s best interests.

I’m not offering the answer to every problem. I can’t possibly do that – but what I can do is offer the beginning. I can offer this blueprint  to you, the Irish nation. I might not be able to bring all of the fair treatment above on my own, but as a nation I fully believe that it is within our power to grant ourselves the rights we are owed. If we can take this basic set of ideals and expand on them together, we could create a country for the people.

Ordinary people have always been the strength of the nation. As a society, we’ve stood up together on different occasions and in different protests. If we can all stand up at once, and bring this one set of ideals to bear together – there is no telling where the future could lead.

Mark Meehan – 02/09/2012

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Letter from the Editor

Hello folks,

I know it’s become a bit quiet around this blog lately. Since my last major post, I’ve been lucky enough to acquire a job working for a notable computer software company. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave me with as much time to blog as I would like. So, I’ve gone mobile!

I’d just like to let all of you know that the blog is still live, there are posts in the pipeline and we’re never short of current affairs topics to write about.

If there is anything about which you would like to see us write, leave a comment or contact us through our various social media presences. If you’re viewing this on your computer, you’ll see the twitter accounts to the right of this post – send an @ message or DM to any of them and we’ll be in touch. There’s also our email address, Facebook page etc – details are on the About Us page.

Finally, id like to thank you for sticking with the blog even through the quiet times. We strive to bring you top quality journalism, and it’s a pledge we intend to keep.

Until next time, friends.

Mark Meehan, Editor-in-Chief – 13/08/2012.

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