An Ireland worth fighting for
Towards a New Democratic programme
Rarely has preparing to read a book excited me as much as this. A century ago there was a democratic programme announced in the first dáil eireann. Our countries politicians decided that they would run the country on this island and throughout the programme the central themes were, much like our European neighbours “Liberty, equality and justice for all”. The intervening period muddied the waters a lot as the aspirations of this democratic programme got lost in a world of global capital and wealth seeking.
Tom Healy is a director of the trade union sponsored Nevin Economic research institute. These have been providing alternative economic arguments since the recession kicked in over a decade ago. This book is his vision for our island. Excited yet?
As elections come and go discussions around economic models bubble to the fore. We face a choice between stability and chaos or continue with failed policies of the past 50 years as opposed to taking a radically different direction based on lessons learned. I, for one, am ready for a new direction. One that leaves noone homeless or facing poverty.
Of course Ireland is still in the European Union and the direction Europe takes is one we need to ponder. Healy argues for a social Europe, one that connects to its citizens in a far more concrete manner. This is key to building confidence. When we look at unequal societies it is those near the bottom or the most vulnerable who attack each other rather than focusing their energy on creating a more equal state. That’s another challenge facing us.
There is a danger that the climate emergency we are facing becomes a discussion about carbon tax. That will muddy the waters as this problem is way beyond any so called polluter pays principle. However any carbon tax that does get implemented needs to be ring fenced for investment in renewable energy, retrofitting and public transport big people see that they may buy into the social contract. Workers Cooperatives can play a huge part too. They are a way of business identifying with the local community and can play a huge part in our future.
I was at a talk given by the author a couple of years ago where he spoke of what our country could look like in 30 years. Of course that is if we have averted the climate catastrophe we are facing. During the talk he pointed to Ireland 30 years ago. A grey country at war with itself. Don’t assume things will never change because they always are. In this book the ideas of local civic forums are suggested. Much like town hall meetings that are the buzz word of business we could have them in communities where power is given to the locals. This could help build social cohesion amongst groups.
This is our future we are talking about, this is worth fighting for.