Statement on current party issues 25th Oct 2013
Bad behavior by ex members
A lot of exaggeration, false information and extreme media spin about DDI has been maliciously and meticulously circulated in the last few days. It seems our un-tarnishable message must be hitting a raw nerve with the establishment to have attracted all this attention. We take pride in that and it spurs us on. We will not let them stop us.
When Mick Clifford of the Examiner rang our office on Thursday, he seemed determined to paint the recent walk out of seven members (out of our thousand members) from a meeting as some kind of a “split” in the grandiose big political style. Splits are things that happen to government parties with TDs and ministers, not to fledgeling parties finding their feet. People come and go from parties all the time, and 7 people walking out because they could not get their way in a meeting is hardly news. So what is the agenda there?
The perpetrators of the walk out have since organised a vindictive online campaign which has persisted for nearly a week. It is very much in the style of previous sustained attacks we have suffered from opposition parties we directly threaten like Sinn Fein and the Socialist group. We had not intended to get involved in online spats because feeding these things tends to cause more problems. However the perpetrators of this appalling and dishonourable behavior have now gone too far.
They are setting up libelous websites and vandalising the DDI network with spam. Worse still they have been spamming false information to DDI members personally, and even to the members’ families and friends. What we see here is a deliberate attempt to harm DDI to stop us from spreading our empowering message. A message that is beginning to have real results in Ireland (as our Seanad campaign recently proved with every county we campaigned in returning a no vote). At best this is all simply character and ego driven, but at worst it is nefarious and contrived.
All of this was created in the wake of a delegates meeting at the weekend at which 3 individuals from a combined preliminary Cork constituency and members from Offally, repeatedly disrupted the meeting in an attempt to press their agenda. This was not the first meeting in which this happened. Their agenda being to remove almost everyone managing and developing Direct Democracy as a political service.
The fact remains that nothing they were asking for could even be voted upon within the rules until a general assembly was called, yet the disruption continued. as it had in previous meetings from the same source. They refused to abide by any of the rules or acknowledge the democratic majority in the room.
After hours of disruption they did not manage to persuade the rest of the constituency delegates in the meeting to support their agenda. The remaining delegates did not agree with their demands and expressed this again by democratic vote. But rather than agree with the democratic consensus in the room, they chose to storm out insulting the remaining delegates. They later resigned their membership and started a bitter online campaign claiming that the democratic decisions were somehow ‘not democratic’ (because they did not get their way).
Let’s clear up a few false claims.
Nobody on the council is paid.
In fact nobody at all in DDI has ever been paid for their tireless work.
Interestingly the agitators deliberately failed to explain that DDI members “may” be paid – (this means merely remunerated for the personal expenses which they have incurred in the setup of this political party). They also neglect to mention the constitution also states there is no legal obligation for anyone to be paid. This also applies to the Executive which includes county delegates.
Contrary to their claims about links with “an extreme political party in the UK”, we can easily state that DDI has no links with any parties in the UK.
Another claim is that DDI is connected to a “Freedom of the Land Movement”, a claim that RTE also tried to insinuate in their recent Prime Time program ‘hit piece’ against the Irish people. People who have the audacity to think they should stand up against the banking cartel that with the government’s help has destroyed our country. ‘How dare we!’ However we would ask you how would that be plausible when apparently most ‘Freemen’ do not support the notion of government or politics? Yet DDI is a political party trying to get into government is it not? That would be a hard one to resolve.
All that aside there is one main issue we wish to address and that is the constitution.
Claims are made that it was some kind of ‘big secret’. It is nothing of the sort. Firstly it is in the public domain along with every other political party constitution at Leinster House, and it is as dull as all the others. The fact of the matter is that in these early stages the constitution has never been needed, until now, to answer any queries. We have all cooperated and compromised without much ado. There is no issue in sending it to our constituency groups for future reference now it is at last becoming relevant.
Secondly the general structures therein are designed for a large well established party. They are to be introduced as and when they become necessary otherwise they would become too cumbersome on a small and growing new party. We operate on the bare minimum of structures to allow complete flexibility in this time of rapid change. We have relaxed most of the rules so that groups can self-organise preliminary committees and participate in voting, despite most constituencies not yet having completed all stages of development to be fully ratified. Indeed the constituencies who have been properly constituted and ratified have been gracious enough to allow this relaxation and equal rights, and we thank them for that inclusive spirit.
Now the main issue is where they claim there is a veto because there are five permanent members on the council, aka the signatories who founded the party. They would have you believe that every decision in DDI will be vetoed by this group and it is a dictatorship (their words). This is nonsense.
Yes, there is a temporary council of permanent members. The purpose of these five individuals is to protect the political party from being taken over by unsavory individuals or groups. It makes perfect sense that if a political party begins to be a force to be reckoned with, it shall be open to attack, possible infiltration and their ultimate demise. It is for this reason a council is in-situ. The council exists only for a limited time, and will remain only for as long as it takes for the party to reach a critical mass where it has an clear identity and common ethos among it’s members and officers throughout the structure that will sustain it against such attacks.
The reason behind this goes back 6 years. Raymond Whitehead tried unsuccessfully a number of times to get DDI off the ground in the five years before the current relaunch (November 2012). Each time control of the organisation was lost quite quickly, and the ethos of the party was changed. This unfortunately prevented DDI from reaching the populace for 5 years, but there are no grudges held, there is no ill will toward anyone. It was what it was for it’s time, and perhaps it is only now that the time is right for DDI.
When it was relaunched all the members were invited to the first AGM. The attendees agreed that they needed a mechanism to stop the party failing again. A way to protect it from takeover in it’s early growth stages until it was large enough, and with a clearly defined style and ethos, to attract like minded members in enough numbers that would protect it from subversion and takeover. Hence the members unanimously agreed that if DDI was going to survive the growing stage of the party then it needed a safeguard in the form of a temporary council of permanent members to act as guardians of the ethos and protect it from usurpation until such time the party was unassailable. When that period of time has elapsed, and if the members at the general assembly think they are happy to run without the council, then they can vote to end the practice. They could of course, if they so wished, vote to extend it, though that would be highly unlikely.
It would be naive of commentators to ridicule the idea without proper consideration. For instance, imagine if say a new socialist party set up tomorrow and after a few of months they had gathered together two hundred members. General assemblies tend to only attract a percentage of the members, maybe 25%. (so 50 in this example). We could easily get a hundred people to join up and all attend the assembly and call a motion to dissolve the party, and we would win. Much less is needed when looking to take over committees as a current example later will show you. It is what the socialist party do in many protest groups, and this was highlighted in it’s extreme with the campaign against household and water charges which has now fallen by the wayside since.
It seems the direct democracy message that DDI is pushing is something none of the established parties want to see in Ireland. Hence, they have attacked us from all sides since we launched to try and stop this message getting out. Attacks from without, and now seemingly from within, as expected.
We believe when the time comes there will not be a need to extend this safeguard as it has not so far come into play and will eventually become redundant. However when it does it is the members democratic decision alone. Most members have not taken issue with this virtually redundant safeguard because they share the same philosophy and mission for DDI. Those who take issue with it perhaps do not fully share the DDI mission and wish to change it.
The whole walk out debacle after the attempted coup d’état at last weekend’s meeting proved that point. At no time was it even necessary to refer to the council because the other delegates in the room themselves quashed any motion to change DDI from what it was envisaged. We thank them for that and trust their judgement.
Problems in Cork
At this point we wish to put the record straight for two members in Cork whom we regret we did not give enough support to earlier in the year and unreservedly apologise for that failure on our part. They did a lot of work in getting local people and local businesses interested in supporting DDI at the outset.
Back in May Joe Blake and Catherine Murphy set about organising two large meetings in Cork with presentations to get DDI off the ground there. They were both successful and resulted in a group being formed followed by further smaller regular meetings. At one of these follow up meetings Joe was elected Chair of the Cork group and Catherine was elected Secretary and Treasurer as nobody else wanted that job. Two ordinary members of the committee were also elected. One of those being Elizabeth Hourihan who became the chief agitator in later months. A second co-agitator Maurice Sheehan was added to the committee in following meetings, encouraged by Elizabeth.
However during the summer a meeting was called for a Saturday morning. While Joe and Catherine had both advised the committee they would be absent that morning (Joe in Limerick with a potential DDI backer, and Catherine at a funeral mass for a young relative), the meeting was not put off to a later time. In their absence Joe and Catherine were cynically removed from the committee and replaced with another friend of the two agitators called Noel Maguire who was made Chairman. These three, who later caused the disruption at our national meetings, now had control of DDI Cork’s committee.
In recent days we have received many phone calls from people in Cork who attended the first meeting in the Silversprings Hotel who have said they left DDI Cork but would be delighted to come back now the committee has resigned. There were also calls from people who would not join before because of the make up of the committee. In fact the slow progress in Cork since the takeover has meant Cork has surprisingly yet to achieve status as a properly constituted constituency.
What seems to have occurred in Cork is an orchestrated take over that made the constituency dysfunctional and in opposition to DDI principles. Whether this was due to egos or due to sabotage perhaps we will never know. However the facts speak for themselves and they have all the usual hallmarks of takeover attempts over protest and campaign groups that we have seen destroyed in the last few years.
This was expected and we will not be allowing this to happen to DDI. Our intention to bring direct democracy back to the Irish people is far too important to let it fail. We have up to now been very lenient and relaxed about the setting up of groups and the approval process for members and officers. It encouraged a spirit of openness, inclusion and autonomy. This perhaps is too trusting and leaves us open to infiltration and insurrection by other parties. It is unfortunate that people behave this way, so we will from now on be forced to use more of the rules available to us to prevent these problems re-occurring.
DDI is not a free for all where all political beliefs can gather. That cannot work. It is a party with it’s own specific ethos and mission. We do not want that mission to change, nor should it. We want to attract people who share that vision, rather than those who oppose it. There are plenty of parties with different missions to suit all all types of people. There is no point trying to change one that doesn’t suit you.
We are looking forward to regrouping very soon in Cork and electing a new committee from the members and welcome back all those who have contacted us this week who left the Cork group disillusioned over the summer.
We would request The Examiner make good over the “Split” article and correct the context to something resembling reality. Front page would be nice again! While at the same time we thank Mick Clifford because on reading his article many people in Cork have phoned to say they wish to join and/or re-affirm membership with DDI now the committee is being replaced.
We would also extend a hand to anyone who felt disenfranchised by the negative internet campaign being carried out by these operatives and their allies, and hope the reality is clearer now you have full information.
Remember it doesn’t matter how much muck they try to sling at DDI or at the individuals in DDI because the message of control over government is made of Teflon. Nothing can stick to it.
Let’s keep the establishment on the run.
Direct Democracy Ireland