20 May 2010 Edition
Another View by Eoin Ó Broin
Time for Change
ON Tuesday night, several thousand people demonstrated outside Leinster House. Trade unionists, political activists, community workers and concerned citizens, gathering under the banner of the Right to Work Campaign, demanded change.
The diverse opinions that made up the crowd were united on two issues: the economic solution to the recession is to invest in jobs and services; the political solution to the recession is for the Government to go.
This was the second week in a row that the Right to Work Campaign, led by the trade union Unite, called people on to the streets. In the seven days that separated the two demonstrations, a range of interests did everything in their power to scare people away. They failed.
Those who joined the demonstration heeded the organisers’ call for a dignified, disciplined and noisy protest. The right-wing media were denied their distractions as the assembled crowd focused on the issues.
Speaker after speaker outlined the reasons why the Government had failed the people, children failed by the Minister for Health, workers failed by the Minister for Employment, mothers failed by the Minister for Housing, all citizens of this broken republic failed by Fianna Fáil, the PDs, the Green Party and their Independent supporters.
Speaker after speaker outlined the need for an alternative, for investment in job creation and quality public services, for a strategy to halt the reemergence of emigration, for an end to waste and corruption.
All were united in calling for the Government to go.
But we are not in France or Greece or Iceland. There weren’t hundreds of thousands of people on the streets on Tuesday night. The Government is not, at present, being forced from office.
But people are angry, frustrated and in need of change. The challenge for those of us who believe that a better, fairer way is possible is to build a national movement for change.
We need to convince more people and a broader range of people to join us on the streets, not just in Dublin but in every town, village and parish in the country.
We need to convince more people that demonstrating works and can deliver change.
But, more importantly, we need to convince people that there are alternatives, that there are better social, economic and political policies that can create an equal, prosperous and sustainable Ireland.
A growing number of people want an alternative to the failed politics and policies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The job of all of us who were outside Leinster House on Tuesday is to convince them that, by joining us, they can play a part in building that alternative.