‘Mad as hell’ journalist stokes huge petition drive
Fintan O'Toole's ‘Enough is Enough’ catches on
Today, we gather here to reclaim that sense of citizenship. As the fate of our country is being decided, it is a case of mind over matter. They don’t mind, and we don’t matter. Our rulers have no shame, and they believe we have no voice."
He added that "they tell us we have no choice, that there is no alternative. A government with no mandate will do a deal with people we have never elected."
"On the one side, we will borrow yet more billions to bail out the banks. On the other, there will be war on the poor and the vulnerable: a savage assault on the minimum wage, cuts in welfare payments and attacks on basic services for the old and the young, the sick and the disabled."
He finished his speech by saying that "we are here today to say that we are not economic units whose only function is to behave ourselves and pay off the gambling debts of our masters. We are not children who must take our medicine or be sent to bed without our supper. We are not subjects, we are citizens. And we want our republic back."
Mr. O'Toole, who was master of ceremonies for the protest, also lead the crowd in a one minute chant of "out, out, out" to the government.
Although the business group Chambers Ireland said the demonstration was “out of touch with reality”, this did not stop O'Toole from setting out his ten measures for reform as part of his online petition.
O'Toole sees the IMF bailout as a step back in time for Irish sovereignty. “You can chart that via the foundation of the State, the expansion of powers within the Commonwealth, the 1937 Constitution, getting back the Treaty Ports, the declaration of the Republic, all those big moments. And this is really the first time since the establishment of the first Dáil in 1919 that things have gone in the other direction.
“We’ve lost a key part of our sovereignty for the next four or five years at least. It’s a terrible, terrible day for the country.”
The idea behind the Enough is Enough petition is that the government does not want to change itself so a massive civic movement of people putting pressure on the system is needed.
“The only answer I have is that no-one can do it but us. It’s not going to come from within the elite; the governing culture is not interested in reforming itself to anything like the radical extent necessary."
“I’m being kind of deliberately optimistic here but say you got 300,000 people to sign up to something saying we’re not going to vote for anyone who doesn’t accept the need to do these things, that would have an effect.”
While conducting research for his book The Irish Times columnist noticed a growing disillusionment with the leaders of Ireland.
“People’s sense of crisis has deepened,” he said. “It was possible last year to believe that by this year we would be beginning to see some kind of economic stabilization and that you could then chart out a way forward, but this time I found it very difficult to find anyone who has faith in anything we’re being told.
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