Was This A Cynical Attempt To Silence Protest Against Irish Water
Today the Journal reports that Reform Alliance TD Terence Flanagan ( Dublin North East) put a Dáil question asking Joan Burton if a “named” individual who was actively protesting about the installation of water meters in Edenmore Dublin should have his dole cut on the basis that he is allegedly not actively seeking work?
There are many ways to look at this, most just are just wrong.
Firstly, seeking work is not a 40 hours a week job. Anyone who is reasonably organised can scan the various papers, websites and agencies and have CVs sent and calls made in a short amount of time. In the current climate where so few proper jobs are available this is even easier.
Being available for work is a different thing altogether. It does not preclude you from filling your time with activity. What would they have people do, sit in the homes all day every day? An offer isn’t going to arrive saying “we need you to start in one hour”. People are always available to stop what they are doing if an offer of an interview arrives so the very basis of the claim is nonsensical.
Now, if this was a constituent’s question to this TD’s office (as he claims) then the correct course of action is to advise the constituent of the proper channels to send their concerns, i.e. through the relevant offices of the Dept of Social Protection; not to turn it into a Dáil question.
Putting this as a Dáil question puts it on the record and is designed to add political weight to the answer. So we need to examine the possible reasons for doing so. Is it:
– because he wanted to get a political assurance that the government had no intention of going down this road (which he didn’t get, quite the opposite)?
– because he has nefarious intent in using the powers of various state departments to intimidate and silence any protest against the government, or unjust taxes for the payment of unlawful bailouts?
or is there a 3rd choice?
– perhaps he just hasn’t got a clue what he is doing and is just pushing paper around to satisfy constituents regardless of the terrible consequences?
From the tone of his response to questions I think we can count out the first honourable option, so we aren’t left with much of a choice.
This episode underlines what is wrong with the country. The mentality of those who are supposed to represent us is in fact a mentality of self preservation and force. Divide and conquer and quell the voices of those who stand up against bad politics.
However we cannot simply blame the politicians. It is the people who elect them and allow this. People who make such requests that cut at the heart of the people’s right to stand up for themselves against oppressive government, as they did in 1916. Then again in 1916 there were still people who threw vegetables at the men of the rising (they later lauded) as they were led away to jail. There have always been supporters of oppression in our midst.
The mindset of this nation is so badly scarred by oppression that we seem predestined to divide and fight eachother. The ruling class know this and they encourage it and use it at every opportunity because disunited people will never remove them from power. This would never happen in a direct democracy because in that system there is no need for protest. People would have the legal right to challenge this tax.