Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Dail Protests: Updated

I took this footage on Tuesday evening outside the Dail of some scuffles that broke out between the Gardai and Republican Sinn Fein.

I don't often cover domestic Irish issues but I want to make an exception such is the gravity of the situation. After Iceland, Greece and the Baltic states Ireland's economy has been hit probably the hardest in Europe although Spain, Portugal and the the UK are in similar situations. We have a 22 billion Euro deficit. The protest outside the Dail yesterday was against cuts to the public sector. There was barely a mention of the hundreds of thousands of private sector workers who have lost their jobs altogether. It was all about the public sector wages being cut.

Let me be clear. I am not Maggie Thatcher. I do not want to destroy the public sector. But government finances have been decimated since the recession began so obviously the government have to make cuts, major cuts. Anybody who doesn't get that really isn't in this debate. I agree that some cuts are wrong. The elderly and children (particularly children's health) should be off limits but everyone else is fair game under the circumstances. I am not denying the peoples right to be angry. Even though I believe that the public sector is over sized and inefficient the workers would not be being having their wages cut if it were not for the bogus economic model that Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern favoured. That is where my real anger lies. Frankly I don't think Cowen has done too badly since becoming Taoiseach, it was his tenure as Minister for finance for which he should feel embarrassed and ashamed. The ridiculously inflated property bubble, the collapse of which has decimated the public finances, clearly would not have happened had it not been for the cozy relationship between Fianna Fail, the banks and property developers.

This is why so many people say, how can we bail out the banks and let the people take the hit. This is understandable. But the banking sector has to be stabilised. Maybe the NAMA approach is wrong. Maybe the Fine Gael idea of creating one workable national bank would be better. Truthfully I don't understand many of these complex financial issues. However I am fairly sure that the far left suggestion of making a list of Ireland's 1000 richest people, and seizing half their assets (which is basically what they propose) as a way out of recession is a non starter. Frankly I have no interest in listening to many of these protesters. The pushing and shoving in the clip above was led by the Socialist Workers Party who believe in a workers revolution and Eirigi, Republican Sinn Fein who are opposed to the Northern Irish Peace Process. I don't believe myself that either of these groups really have the best interest of Ireland at heart. And that is putting it extremely lightly.

Below are a few snaps I took at the demo.

My favourite, the muppets and Homer.

The large crowd on Molesworth Street

After last week when 7 or 8 Gardai were nearly overwhelmed at the gates of Leinster House the Gardai were taking no chances. There were mounted police manning the gates and a Garda helicopted hovered above the whole time.

Gardai form a ring around the entrance to the Dail

Gardai and members of Republican Sinn Fein and the Socialist Workers Party go eye to eye.


Gary said...

It sound as if your economic situation is amazingly similar to ours here in the USA including the housing bubble and the attempt to cure the problem through a redistribution of wealth -which can ultimately only buy a little time.

Mr. I ain't gettin in no plane fool. said...

Well Tedzer,

From your teaching buddy, I have to vote this week on the pay deal and I'm still undecided. I mean I fully understand the government needs to make cuts and we all have to feel the pain. But as a new teacher I've already felt the pain and I think I'm on less now than when I started 3 years ago, despite increments.

I've worked in overcrowded classrooms with little or no(none at the moment apart from the laptop I paid for myself) ICT facilities. Do I deserve another cut? Possibly, I'm still not sure. Not that I deserve it but maybe I need to take it for the good of the country. But I feel the cuts could be better made elsewhere in the Civil Service where there are clearly inefficiencies that could be tidied up without making cuts across the board.

What do you think. I need some objective views before I come to my final decision on how to vote.

Ted Leddy said...


You are correct except Ireland has had nothing like Obama's stimulus package. We have been cutting expenditure big time since the recession began. All our damage was done in the good times when we spent too much, in many cases on unsustainable public sector pay deals, all the while a huge percentage (perhaps as much as 30%) of government finances were coming from one area of the economy, construction and the property boom. It was a recipe for disaster.

Ted Leddy said...

Mr. I ain't gettin on no plane fool

I like your attitude. Its good to hear someone acknowledge that there are some worse off. I am tired of so many people claiming they are the worst hit in this recession. The worst hit are people who have lost their jobs, particularly those who have large debts.

No you don't deserve to take another cut but I believe it has to be done. However I do agree with you that there are other areas that should be hit first. There are many middle ranking civil servants who are paid far too much, and do far too little. There are also some departments that are over funded.

I hope the pay deal is voted for this weekend. For the sake of stability. Its either that or strikes and chaos.

For the record I admire teachers and believe they should be well paid. Hopefully when things turn around in a few years there will be a pay rise for the well deserving nurses Guards and teachers.

Donjuan said...

Well Mr. I ain't gettin on no plane fool and Ted,
I think you both have very valid and rounded views.
I agree that it is wrong that people in these vital services should have to take the hit for overpaid middle management and the lack of proper structure and accountability right though the public service. Banking issues and property collapse aside, reform in middle management and the civil service in general is long overdue, and I feel that this should be first on the agenda
But unfortunately with the current economic situation that is before us in Ireland at present, this pay deal is crucial. People just have to knuckle down and get on with it otherwise a collapse is on the horizon.
Alot of people have lost jobs and private sectors pay has been significantly reduced too. We just have to get on with it and keep trying to get the economy ebbing along.
I'm disappointed that the 2 main teaching organisations acted selfishly by rejecting the Croke Park deal, instead of showing leadership to the rest of the workers, both in private and public sectors.
Yours in Sport,

Ted Leddy said...

Thanks DonJuan

Spot on. There has to be more cash. The cash just isn't there. I can't understand why so many just can't get that. I was stunned when the two teacher unions rejected the deal.

However it is as you say the middle management level of the civil service are the worst offenders. We all have personal experiences that demonstrate this.

Am I right in saying that not a single public sector worker has lost a job in this recession ? If so then it really is quite unbelievable that the public sector unions are going so ape over cuts when hundreds of thousands of private sector workers have lost jobs.

I agree with your sentiment. We just have to knuckle down and get through it. I think the silent majority in the country have accepted this.

Mr. I ain't gettin in no plane fool. said... said...

Hi guys, the INTO(the union of which I am part of) have passed the vote on the pay deal.

Ted you are wrong to say that people have not lost jobs. Plenty of teaching posts have been lost. The people who lost these posts may have picked up work elsewhere, in a temporary or substitute capacity. Also paid posts of responsibility have disappeared in schools.

It is going back to the old way of good will to do extra tasks in school (of which I do many already as I'm newish to the profession I never had a post of responsibility). The good will could begin to run out if we keep getting hammered. You will begin to see Confirmations etc, with no school choirs, no football or any other sports being done in school. No IT facilities being looked after by teachers free of charge.

It would go against my nature not to do these things. There are several teachers who get paid extra to do these tasks and fail to do them adequately. A radical reform of how we are paid and judged for the effort we put into our jobs needs to be done.