LegalEagleStar

… a kind of Legal Column

Posts Tagged ‘democracy

#Right2Water , Civil Disobedience and #PeoplePower in Ireland 2015

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Yesterday on Twitter I received the following Tweet ….

What needs to be done to topple the Government?

I replied ….

Mass Civil Disobedience !

As a lawyer, I have been criticised by many, in particular fellow lawyers, regarding the stance I’ve taken with regard to the Right2Water Campaign. This is a Citizen led Movement which has arisen as a result of the Irish Governments attempt to privatize our water, regardless of how hollow the rejection of this claim is, by the Elites who run this country. I have taken to the streets and marched Shoulder to Shoulder with my fellow Citizens and am proud to do so. While many people cannot afford to pay the proposed charges being imposed on us, a lot can. Luckily I am one of those that can. There is a principle at stake here. Austerity measures dictated by the IMF, the European Central Bank and others and imposed on the Irish People in order to pay the gambling debts of the Elites, their Bankers and Speculators are, in my opinion, immoral. Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay are what the banners say. They could read Can Pay, Won’t Pay and they would be as correct. People have said ‘Enough is enough’. The question is, am I correct in advocating a Don’t Pay policy?

I have read a lot about Civil Disobedience. Is it morally, if not legally correct? I came across the following…

I am inclined to agree with Thomas Jefferson,  the principal author of the American Declaration of Independence (1776). Justice, surely has to play a role in our thinking. As lawyers we are trained to use the law to benefit our fellow citizens. When the law is unjust, we try to use the legal system to protect our clients. Our Courts on a regular basis try to mitigate the harshness of the law and find an interpretation which protects the citizen. What about when one political ideology in power attempts to subjugate the citizens to their point of view? We are told that we live in a democracy and the will of the people is demonstrated by the Ballot Box. In 2011 the Irish People Voted for Change. They ousted the Fianna Fail Government and replaced them with the two parties that advocated change, namely Fine Gael and The Irish Labour Party. While in opposition and prior to the General Election, both of these Parties talked the talk but as it turned out, they did not walk the walk and indeed the Irish People were subjected to the same policies that the previous hated Government had implemented. Sadly, even more austerity was heaped on the citizen. The most vulnerable in society, the young, the old, sick and the poor were particularly targeted by the ruthless implementation of austerity. People suffered as a result and indeed are still suffering to this very day. The new government claim that they were given a mandate by the people and are refusing to relinquish power. They say they intend to stay the full course. Is this democracy in action?

Democracy… government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. So in theory that is what we have.

While we’re deemed a Democratic State why are people in Ireland today so discontent? Something is wrong. They are not being listen to. Despite marching on the streets to demonstrate their opposition they are being fobbed off with our Government playing politics. Those in power are, in my opinion, not following an agenda on behalf of the citizens who voted them in. Instead they are following the dictates of the EU and other like-minded institutions whose agenda is somewhat different. Perhaps something is fundamentally wrong ….

While I have quoted from a Justice of the American Supreme Court, I feel that the same is equally relevant in the Irish context. The Irish Government panders to the will of those with great wealth to the detriment of the citizen, thus sadly creating a sub-class in our society, to which the vast majority now belong.

Photograph: Matthew Cooper/PA

It’s to be noted that lawyers have headed protest against injustice in many countries throughout the world. They have led the people. In Ireland today, it appears that we only hit the headlines when huge fees are concerned. This is unfair. I recognise those firms who act for the Elites but the vast majority of the legal profession are of the people and stand up for their rights. Individually, lawyers do have a moral conscience. Unfortunately that is not reflected in the media nor indeed, in my opinion, in the representative bodies who I feel should be questioning the legality of bailing out bondholders and banks and suchlike. True leadership should be shown. It has been left to #Ballyhea and other protest groups to continue the fight against Government Austerity policies which go to bail out the rich at the expense of the poor. In the past the Trade Union Movement lead the citizen in protesting injustice. Sadly today the major Union #SIPTU are so closely associated with the Labour Party that their silence is deafening. Without the likes of Ballyhea, this whole sorry chapter in Irish society would not have a voice of protest.

So, as a lawyer am I advocating breaking the law by supporting a No Pay to Water Charges? Well, you’ll have to be the judge of that. I will continue to support my fellow citizens in their fight against an unjust law. I am proud to be associated with such good people.

Finally, I think it worthwhile watching Matt Damon, a lifelong friend of Howard Zinn and his family, read excerpts from a speech Howard Zinn gave in 1970 as part of a debate on civil disobedience.

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Poster courtesy of Arcturus Blackhorn

LegalEagleStar , Tuesday , 6th. January , 2015.

Be careful for what you wish for… Gaza, Ireland & death of our citizens.

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This week we have seen Israel invade Gaza, not for the first time, with the slaughter of  its inhabitants. We’ve also seen the downing of a Malaysian Airlines Jet with the loss of life of those people on board. We’ve witnessed the ongoing dispute with Greyhound Bins who demand massive reductions to workers wages. We’ve also seen the few thugs in the Gardai manhandle citizens, as Vincent Browne likes to refer to us, outside the American Embassy and elsewhere. The sight of ill mannered thugs in police uniforms dragging a man on his head along the road, does nothing to enhance the image of a demoralised police force whose members I’ve found to be, by and large, good people putting their lives on the line to protect us all. We have seen more people dispossessed of their homes by the Banks as well as the horror of suicides devastating our people. Medical cards have been taken away from the sick and elderly and there is the ongoing battle against the privatisation of water and the ensuing water charges being imposed. Property taxes have been introduced by our Government although Enda Kenny, our beloved leader, has been against them in a previous existence.

From atrocities in Gaza to the IMF’s insistence on dumbing down the Health Services in Ireland as too much money was being spent, there is one common denominator. That is that it is people who are the target of all of these measures. Not Giant Corporations or the Banking Community. The Arms Trade is blooming. Maybe pension schemes should invest in this business as it seems to that giant corporations are where your money should be. Definitely not in anything that remotely resembles local business or indeed supporting the citizen and the local economy.

We live in a time when people are being controlled and relabeled not as citizens, but as consumers. The country is not being run to benefit the citizen but to enhance the profits of Big Business in all its guises. When you dehumanize citizens, it is quite acceptable, in their minds, that they can be collateral damage. Sure what if a few thousand are killed or unemployed, or just left to die at the side of the road? Profits are what matters. Businesses that profit the Elites are given tax incentives to come and set up businesses in Ireland today. Our priorities are to enrich these Elites at the expense of the citizen. At the same time services for the citizen are being curtailed while more taxes are being thought up by our Government every other day of the week.

There is more ways than bombing people out of existence, as is happening in Gaza, to control people. The loss of your job, home, medical benefits, social welfare entitlements and the imposition of unjustified taxes on people at the behest of the IMF and their fellow travellers, is indeed akin to actually bombing them out of existence. In Ireland today, people are suffering and dying while others enrich their lifestyles. Our Government have taken directions from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the International Banking fraternity and imposed their directives on the Irish people. These imposed changes are killing our people. Despite the efforts of our marvellous doctors and nurses, people are dying on trolleys in overcrowded hospitals. It is the most vulnerable in our society who are suffering the most but this does not change anything. As a lawyer, I see the high street solicitor and the junior barristers suffering on a daily basis and struggle to survive. These are the lawyers who represent you, the people. I do not see the lawyers servicing the interests of the Corporate set suffer at all. In fact they thrive as they are paid handsomely by Big Business and Governments and International Bankers. The rights of workers are being eroded on a daily basis and these short-term contracts in lieu of proper terms of employment are giving our people no security to enjoy their lives and raise their families with any degree of certainty for the future.

If  history have thought us anything, it’s that war follows on from a recession. With all the political manoeuvring by the super powers, financed by the Elites and the insistence on control of oil and natural resources to call their own regardless of where located, the future does look bleak for the ordinary man, woman and child.  Not so bleak for the Big Corporations who are hungry in their pursuit of financial gain, both short and long-term. Our Government have played and indeed continue to play their part as the good boys of Europe and have not ever taken a stance for the citizens of this country. The continued imposition of austerity, despite the suffering of the Irish people is akin to the imposition of fascism on the nation. No doubt our Ministers, on the instructions of the Government, will follow the party line, so to speak, and give support to those Elites that demand the continuing demoralising of the Irish people for some time to come, while lending our support to whatever super power we’re to be aligned with, regardless of the cost to the Irish people.

We are told we live in a democracy. On a daily basis we see wars fought to bring democracy to people all over the world. Democracy I was taught, was Government by the people for the people. Well the democracy we’re witnessing throughout the world would appear to be fully under the control of Major Corporations whose interest is far from anything that is pro people. Be careful for what you wish for.

 

LegalEagleStar , Monday , 21st. July , 2014.

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