Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Child abuse in Ireland - the Christian Brothers and CORI

Made famous in the hymn Jeruselum, in his preface to Milton, William Blake wrote about 'Dark Satanic Mills'
The expression is sometimes interpreted as the destruction of nature and human relationships in the early Industrial Revolution.

I cannot think of a more apt term to describe Irelands Industrial schools and institutions where such staggering abuses took place.

I am rarely moved to tears, but the heroism and honesty of Mr. Michael O Brian on RTE’s Questions and Answers was something nobody could not be moved by.

His courage in the face of such savagry and his decency in search for redress is readily apparent.
The same qualities of decency and morality are sadly lacking in the legal, political and spiritual establishments on this Island.

As an aside, with his record of public service I feel Mr. O Brian should be appointed to the Seanad, if he is willing to serve a State that has failed him so abysmally - he owes the State nothing – but that perhaps in such a position he could help steer the implimentation of legislation and needed constitutional change.
The numbers involved are so staggering there is no question of constituancy.

The state, education system, legal structures and clergy all failed these people, as did in many cases the general public.

Mr. O Brian has not.

He has already served the country that failed him as a child when an adult as a Mayor and Councillor.
He has also shown himself to be a man of honour, conviction, bravery and determination in his work for other survivors.

Mr. O Brian and others who survived have been failed again by this country.
Their treatment during the legal inquiry is nothing short of a continuation of abuse.
The cowardice of the political establishment further abuse.
The weasel financial chicanery of the orders is further abuse.
The lack of accountability and a credible apology further abuse.

Mr. Ahearn and his Governments deal with the Orders is an absolute abomination.

Of the Orders involved in the endemic and systematic abuse of innocents, the Christian Brothers are among the largest.

The Christian Brothers speak of review resources for reparations, and as investment in child education and welfare for present and future generations.
They speak of maintaining resources to maintain their community, as well as commitments at home and overseas.

The continuation of the Christian Brothers as an entity is, I believe, not tenable, and any connection to any education system is completely unacceptable.

The Brothers have been down this road before. After similar horrific systematic cases in Canada and the US they transferred or attempted to transfer assets and properties into complex trusts to protect against liability.
Brother Garvey, the current spokesperson for the Brothers, was then world leader of the orginisation.

This patern is being repeated in Ireland. The reason given is to protect Catholic Education.
I believe this Island and the world has seen enough of the Christian Brothers concept of education.
It is time for them to disclose, divulge, deliver and disband.

They and their colleages in CORI have continued to drag their feet, and the Government acting like Pontius Pilate have decided to wash their hands of any further responsibility in the palace, while the crucifiction of the Nation, morally, emotionally and financially goes ahead.

It is time for them to show some backbone, be less Catholic and more Christlike.

And what can we do as a Nation?
I do not know, but I would suggest that we consider using our unprecedented connectivity - the internet, social networking sites, forums, emails, our mobile phones to arrange to go to our churches every Sunday - not to enter, but to stand outside and hold silent protests or even prayer meetings, until the clergy understand that without the solution to the problem to the satisfation of Mr. O Brian and other survivors, that without our participation and support - that they cannot ignore our wishes.

We as a nation failed to stand up for children in the past, let us not fail to stand by the survivors today and tomorrow.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Miltarisation and its real dangers

In researching and writing this article I have become increasingly alarmed at the potential for abuse of the system proposed by the treaty.
There is specific provision for a military industrial complex written into the treaty with little political control.

I did not fully realize the extent of the Treaties Security and Defense provisions.

Whatever we are told the wording I have used in this article comes directly from the text of the reform treaty. If I can interpret the provisions this way, then so can someone else.

Ireland, Sweden, Austria and Finland – traditionally neutral countries shall be in a new military alliance, which will entail more than just defense.

The Provisions for the Common Security and Defense policy ensures ‘Member states shall make civilian and military capabilities available to the union for the implementation of the common security and defense policy, to contribute to objectives defined by the council’.
That is a military alliance, controlled by an unelected council.

Another provision is that “Member states shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities” and that the European Defense Agency shall ‘support defense technology research’ This means increased defense spending. I’d rather see the money spent on schools and hospitals.

The European Defense Agency shall ‘implement any useful measure for strengthening the industrial and technological base of the defense sector’ that is the specific creation of a military industrial complex.

This is the very thing that President Dwight D Eisenhower, in January 1961, warns us about.
To paraphrase Eisenhower, this convergence of a political establishment and a large arms industry is new in the European experience.
We must seriously consider the possible economic, political, and social consequences.

Government must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.

The potential for the rise of misplaced power exists and will always persist.
We have seen it many times in only the past 90 years - in the span of a single human life.

We must never let this endanger our democratic decisions which have already been denied three times.
Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can ensure liberty and democracy.

So – what will we do with this incredibly powerful military capability?
A common defense policy might sound OK, but Section 1 also makes provision for use of the use of the military outside of the EU ‘in accordance with the principles of the United Nations charter’
– it says nothing about actually going to the UN – so who makes the decision as to how the UN charter is interpreted? As an example we have seen Mr.Bush and Mr. Blair go to war regardless of public and international opposition

Decisions relating to the policy, including those initiating a military mission, will rest with the unelected Council and its unelected President.

Basically, if the Council should decide to intervene in a conflict outside of the borders of the EU – then they may do so - without the need to consult the people or the elected parliament.

Unlike in the US where the people choose, the European President shall not hold a national office and will be selected by a 27 person Council of Ministers.

This Council of Ministers shall not be directly elected by the people.

This is an enormous amount of power and influence to be vested in such a small number of people.

History shows us time and time again that such a convergence of military, economic and political power is very, very dangerous. This is how every single totalitarian state has come into being.

I am not into conspiracies, I believe in the inherent goodness of the majority of people, but who will the next president be - or the one after that? The German people would never have elected Adolph Hitler had they known what he would do.

This treaty once in place will establish a system that has the potential to be abused.

Every time we give too much power to a few unaccountable people, it has been disasterous.

The person tipped to be the first EU President in this way is Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister – who took Britain to war in Iraq in 2003. This was done despite the opposition of the British public, the resignation of his foreign secretary, international opposition, and without a clear UN resolution

The addage of Tacitus still holds true - that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutley.

Again, as always – thanks for reading.

Even if you don’t agree with me – I hope you give some thoughts to the points made
And please let others now about these blogs, podcasts and youtubes.

Citizen Simon - out

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The threat to democracy

The point of democracy is the collective respect for the collective decision.
We are told its important to vote, that every vote counts and that we should take part in our democratic process.
However, if the elected do not respect the choice of the electorate, whats the point?

Our own representatives are failing by forcing of this treaty through despite democratic rejection by the French, the Irish and the Dutch.

Why is our decision not being respected? No means No

But still our own politicians continue to force their own agenda.

The chance to pause and reflect has not been used to build the kind agreement that We the People really want – a democratic collective of nations for peace and prosperity who respect each other. And that desire really exists

Instead it has been used to repackage the same rejected and unwanted treaty to avoid giving people a democratic voice, and push it through despite the democratic decision.

This process is an erosion, even a threat, of the very foundations of the Union – Democracy and Co-operation.
What makes democracy work is our ability, as a collective, to decide to work together for the benefit of the many – not just the chosen few.

I know how the Irish, French and Dutch feel about their democratic decision being ridden roughshod over, we're dis-illusioned and angry - but it’s the British I feel sorriest for.

The UK was promised a referendum by Tony Blair, April 20th 2004 but Jack Straw announced on 6 June 2005 that the referendum had been shelved. This despite that 88% of people in the UK want a referedum according to the BBC.

The British people have not had a single choice on our shared Union since they democratically chose to join in 1975. Decisions that affect their everyday lives have been left in the hands of people in other countries.

I really believe that if British people were given a democratic choice in deciding their part in the Union, then there would be far less euro skepticism.

Again, why are my fellow Citizens being denied their right to choose?

The Portuguese also were guaranteed a referendum by a party who are now in Government and who now deny them a referendum.
When in 2007 when our heads of Government signed the treaty in Lisbon – 200000 people went into the streets to protest.
This was the biggest public demonstration in the country since the Portuguese struck out for democratic freedoms since the Carnation Revolution of 1974, ending a dictatorship which had been in place since the 20’s.

And this did not even make the Irish or other European news agencies.
One would think a protest this size was newsworthy, especially considering the fact that the heads of government were there!!!

My job is different in that I work with people from all over the world, in recent times I have worked with a very large number of British and Portuguese
And they all want to be part of the Union as I do.
We know Europe can work, it has been demonstrated – but it has to be on the Peoples terms.

By Ignoring our democratic decision the politicians are actually endangering our Union and eroding democracy.

And are we not told that it is this very freedom of choice that makes us human beings?

We want this Union to work, we want this Union to succeed, and we want to work with the politicians to make it happen.

But they have to listen – and respect, our opinion – to treat us with the same respect, courtesy and dignity with which we treat them.

In case they have forgotten, We choose them for their positions of privilege and power.

And again to take a lesson from the past - if they listen then our Union shall have a new beginning and that a European Union for the people, shall not perish.

If this goes through regardless of the wishes of the people, then why even bother with the Democratic process?

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Florida Figures and Referendum Replays

If our European Union is to work, then surely it is the voters of Europe who need to make major decisions, as a whole, not less than 1% of all 491 million! That is not a democratic process.

Seriously, the way this referendum was planned and the figures play out, I think the Anglo Irish banks executives have found a new position.
As the great band NOFX said "Its not the right time to be sober - Now the idiots are taking over" Maybe being Irish I have that advantage at times.

Only one vote over 50% of those who actually bother to vote in Ireland is needed to agree to make this major change to the European Union.

And of all the voters in the EU - we are the only ones who have been given a choice.

That is in my opinion unfair on us, and unfair to them.

One feels like Cuculain tied to a stone, Custume on the Shannon, Horatio on the bridge or Leonidas at the Gate.

OK- the boring bit

The population is 4,501,000 in the Irish republic
The electorate is 3,051,278 registered voters

1,621,037 /53.13% of registered voters turned out 6171 /0.38% votes were spoiled

862,415 / 53.4% of my felow citizens voted against the treaty/constitution
752,451 / 46.6% of my fellow ctizens voted for the treaty/constitution

109,964 people, or 6.8% of those who actually voted stopped the forcing through of the treaty/constitution.

To put that in context, it is 0.02% of the population of Europe - feels like Florida 2000

In fairness - if 245,500,001 EU citizens voted for the treaty and 245,499,999 voted against it, then as a European I’d accept it.

But right now I feel like some American friends. I’m moving to Canada!!

That 0.2% in percentage terms works out at 345 times the mandate of the only party against the treaty/constitution in the Irish Parliament ?
It is patently ridiculous.

As of the May 2007 General Election there are 166 seats in the Dail – the Irish Parliaments executive.
Fianna Fail won 78 seats and formed the Government. In European terms they area broadly Gaullist type party.

The Green party won 6 seats and joined the Government.

The Progressive Democrats (who no longer exist as a party but are still in Government) won 2 seats and joined the Government

Fianna Gael won 51 seats In European terms they are a Social/Christian Democrat hybrid.

Labour won 20 seats. In European terms they are a Socialist/Liberal party

There were 5 independents, or non-party TD’s (MPs / Deputies) – I do not know where they stand individually on Lisbon.

Between them all, they won 92.3% of ballots cast.

In addition, between them the main parties and independents have 12 seats in the European Parliament.

Campaigning against the treaty are Sinn Fein, with 6.9% of votes cast and 4 seats are the only party in the Dail objecting to the Lisbon Treaty.

In addition the party has one seat in the EU parliament based in the Republic, and with the parties’ cross border nature a second EU seat based in Northern Ireland.

The other grouping given a high profile in the Media campaigning against Lisbon are Libertas – a grouping who have no seats in the Irish Parliament, no council seats or any representation in the European Parliament.

Libertas, with no mandate, are being promoted by the Media as the main opposition to a Lisbon Treaty/Constitution, along with Sinn Fein who have 6.9 % of the Irish vote.

There are other groups who oppose the second Lisbon referendum -
With a general election mandate of 92.3% the major parties lost the referendum campaign -
so there has to be -

The only group that I have honestly found so far who have a broad base in opposition to the treaty/referendum are called the Peoples Movement - so I will have to check them out further, dont agree with everything, but I'm still looking.

But the Irish Media have chosen to ignore this broader opposition, instead promoting a tiny group for whom 92.3% of the electorate did not vote as the main opposition?

That dog dont hunt.

Then again, the Irish Government controls funding of RTE and licencing for all other radio and TV media in the state - makes you think.

Again, as always – thanks for reading or listening.

Even if you don’t agree with me – I hope you give some thoughts to the points made

And please let others now about these blogs, podcasts and youtubes.

Citizen Simon - out

Worries on Association

In writing this blog the only thing that really concerns me is the concept of being regarded as on the margin by associaton.

I dont want to be associated with parties I do not vote for because of my opposition to the Treaty.

I consider an undemocratic attempt to push through a treaty I do not believe and certainly have not been convinced as being good for the EU.

I am an independent voter. I have friends, relatives, neighbors and colleges who I admire and like, who I respect, from right across the European political spectrum.

If the politicians have any respect for their electorates or democracy then this has to stop.

As an independent I have canvassed and normally voted for the Labor Party in Ireland.

In the next local elections I will vote Fianna Gael, possibly continue to vote Labor at National level and in the past I have voted for Fianna Fail.

All the main Irish parties are in favor of the treaty/constitution, is this out of conviction, fear or inadequacy? If it is out of conviction, why did they fail to convince the 93.1% of voters who in 2007 put them in office to accept the treaty/constitution?

Maybe its peer pressure, wanting to impress their bigger political partners on the mainland?

Or is it simply the politicians belief this is too big a decision for the regular voter to make themselves? This is something I don’t know.

The main problem for me right now is no major party represents my views on Europe.
I thought that this is what being in opposition meant, to at least offer an alternative.

The only group I can find with a broad base of support, across the political spectrum are called The Peoples Movement - more about them and other alternatives as I find out more.

We should be able to disagree without being disagreeable, and should not the democratic opinion of the Irish electorate be accepted if we are part of a comunity of nations?

In my opposition to the Lisbon treaty, I worry that I might be associated with Sinn Fein, I am not, but they are the only party in the Dail objecting to the Lisbon Treaty.

But then again, the Turks have a saying that I really like – that a broken clock is right twice a day.

In my opposition to Lisbon, I might be associated with Libertas – a grouping who have no seats in the Irish Parliament, no council seats or any representation in the European Parliament are also being promoted as the main opposition to Lisbon.

To be blunt Libertas scares the crap out of me, a Pan European party with a mandate which is specifically anti European, nothing about Ireland. They are closer to UKIP than they are to the Irish political scene.
Are we going to end up a laughing stock with a party in the EU parliament but no national representation?
I don’t want to support a party with no national mandate.
They don’t even have a .ie website for gods sake, yet the Irish media expect me to take them as the only opposition to the treaty.
That is a failing by the Irish media in my opinion.

They are in rhetoric closer to parties who I would not naturally be inclined to vote for like UKIP or the US Republican party than they are to the Irish political scene.

I admire many aspects of conservative political thought – self reliance and personal responsibility, the importance of a stable family unit, and for true conservatives like Lincoln the importance of civil liberties and a less intrusive government.

The site trumpets an alliance with a German Party – the AUF, who I cannot find on wikipedia, but whose German website gives me the impression they are quite conservative, for a Christian God, Work, and the environment.

I understand that many aspects of our traditions, morals and laws come from a religious background – but I am politically secular. Personal faith is a separate issue.
But I really believe that mixing religion and politics always seems to be a bad idea.

That has been especially true when the leaders were unelected.

Europeans in particular, with the history of the continent, should understand that.

Again, as always – thanks for reading, or listening.

Even if you don’t agree with me –

I hope you give some thoughts to the points made

And please let others now about these blogs, podcasts and youtubes.

Citizen Simon - out

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The use of fear and guilt to force a Yes Vote

In the great song Bu$hleaguer, a b-side on ‘I am Mine’ Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam asks how do they do it – the same song gives the answer – drilling for fear makes the job simple.

Keeping people uncertain of the future and creating fears for the wellbeing of themselves and their families makes them easier to control and manipulate

There is now the implied threat from all the major political parties in Ireland that rejecting Lisbon will cause economic meltdown to follow.

They failed to win the argument in the last referendum simply because the treaty could not be sold in a normal, positive way.
So now fears and uncertainties are being generated based on fear of the collapse of our economic systems.

The use of scare tactics of what may happen to you if you do not vote the way your told by a discredited group of people is downright nasty.

If they want they want me to vote in favor, then they have to give positive reasons, not simply generate a fear to manipulate us at our most vulnerable level.

If there is one thing we have learned from the last US election, is that the electorate can achieve change they can believe in.

President Obama ran a campaign that made the majority of the electorate feel that their opinion was worth something, it bought the sense of empowerment back to a generally disillusioned population.

We have seen a campaign where the desire for change on what the citizens of the US wanted overcame fear mongering.

Yes, the EU also needs change in the way it works, I support the ideals of the EU but change to Europe should be what is decided by the population of the Union, not by a narrow segment who – using abstract political and failed economic theories – wish to impose. We need more democracy and accountability, not less.

Also, lets not forget the politicians in Ireland who will use this fear mongering are the same people that got us into this economic mess in the first place, bailing out the financial institutions who bypassed regulators, using loopholes and – in some cases if not illegal – methods certainly not in the spirit of regulations in a distasteful way of maximizing perceived profits.

Again showing an astounding lack of understanding and judgment, in January 2009 the Irish Government decided to nationalize Anglo Irish Bank.
Irish taxpayers now own a private bank that was suspended on the stock markets with a loss of 98% on share value.
This was despite the prior knowledge of a financial trick used to mask losses.

The way it worked was like this – bank executives took out loans in order to purchase Anglo Irish shares.
Then, the loans are transferred to another bank prior to the end of year-end audits, thereby causing "Loans to Directors" to be understated.

In 2008, the loan to Messers FitzPatrick and Bradshaw amounted to €87 million; but the transfer loophole resulted in the accounts showing only about €40 million outstanding to directors, instead of €150 million.

The regulator said, "While it does not appear that anything illegal took place in relation to these loans, the Financial Regulator was of the view that the practices surrounding these loans were not appropriate.

Now, the people who carry the can for this are workers in the public sector with a levy, a reduction in their income, on their pensions.

Perversely the pension package of Mr. Fitzpatrick and others were in the private sector, and their pensions will probably remain largely un-affected.

This is simply one example of what happens when appointed, unaccountable people are given to much power, and that we end up paying for it.

Voting for Lisbon wont stop this hapening, it may even make things worse.
But it sent such a shock through the Irish economy.

Rather than an example of Government ineptitude, this fear, this economic crisis, has created uncertainty, and this is a way of forcing the Yes Vote !

We joke about Catholic guilt, but there are some aspects that should be looked at.

Society is a complex thing, affected by many historical communal factors.
One that cannot be ignored is religions affect on the way our society works in the past and in the present.

In a tangential way, guilt is fear – whether to suffer for sins in the next life or just the more tangible idea of Karma – that what goes round, comes round, exists in most of us.
92.2% of Irish people have had some exposure, even nominally, to Christian concepts.

As a nation we also have a sense of fair play, and are generally a grateful and compassionate group of people.

We are told that Europe has been good for us, that we should be grateful, that we should afford other European Citizens the general good fortune that we have had, and not to do so is ungrateful and shameful.

I agree that Europe has been good for Ireland.
I agree that others should be given a fair shot at sharing in a European idea.

But I think it would be more shameful, and unfair and wrong to accept the Lisbon treaty as it is, with little understanding of it, eroding the importance of the nation state and create an unanswerable bureaucracy that would pass laws to allow the exploitation of our fellow European Union Citizens.

Erosion of the rights of the Nation State is dangerous, of the worlds top 100 economies, 51 are now corporations!!!

And we have seen where that leads. in bank scandals right across the EU.
Their primary job is to create wealth for their shareholders – by any means necessary - unlike the concept of nation state which is for the improvement of society.

There have been economic downturns before, they will happen again – and the very transfer of economic planning to external, unaccountable bureaucracy and de-regulation has helped cause the current downturn.

As I have explained in previous podcasts and blogs, our fellow Europeans have been denied the right to, along with us, make the choice to change the way our union works.

Like Chuck D from Public Enemy said back in 1990 – Power to the People - Gotta Give us want We want – Gotta give us what We need

Its our choice.

Again, as always – thanks for reading, thanks for reading or listening.

Even if you don’t agree with me – I hope you give some thoughts to the points made

And please let others now about these blogs, podcasts and youtubes.

Citizen Simon - out

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Historical Irish Lessons in democratic displacment

In the first post I discussed what I would refer to as Democratic Displacement in the European Union.

Ireland is, rather bizarrely, in the position that of our population of 4.5 million - or about 0.8% of the European population – that is those of us over the age of 18, who are registered to vote, are the only people who have been given the right by referendum to decide the future of the European Union.

That is unfair on us and our approximate fellow 491 million citizens.

A treaty, which fundamentally re-arranges the way the EU works should simply not be decided by less than 1% of the population, the decision should be pan-European, by referendum – otherwise it is undemocratic.

It is comparable to asking only Maine along with Hawaii to or god forbid Alaska to elect the President of the United States

As we seem to be the chosen people this time out, I want to do this blog/podcast concentrating on the lessons of democratic displacement from Irelands past.

Of all countries in Europe, perhaps Ireland, with our post colonial heritage should best understand what happens when government becomes removed and remote.
The Irish of all people should look to the past and learn from its failings, to avoid them in the future.

Again, I need to emphasize that this is not anti British, or an anti European rant, it is my personal understanding of the lessons of the past.

For many, many years the vast majority of the Irish population was denied the right to choose self determination.

In our history systems of exclusion and discrimination were gradually phased out, first emancipation, then property ownership and finally gender based barriers were removed.

But for a great deal of our history, power was vested to men of property from one religious group – they were the economic and political powerbrokers of their time, in other words – those who inherited a feudal system, and the predecessors of today’s special interest groups – those who benefited from the system of the time.

Extrapolating from James Camlin Becketts book, A Short history of Ireland – from the census figures in 1851 0.025% of the Irish population had a say in the running of the Island.

Ratification of the Lisbon treaty would not be the first time that Governance of the Ireland of Ireland moved offshore to a largely appointed, un-democratic special interest group.

After the 1801 the Act of Union Ireland was ruled directly from London as part of the United Kingdom.
Executive power lay in the hands of the unelected, appointed Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary for Ireland.

By elections limited to male property owners, Ireland sent 105 members of parliament to the British House of Commons, and representative peers elected twenty-eight of their own number to sit for life in the House of Lords.

The shift of political power, vested in a small proportion of the population, from Dublin to London, withdrew the rulers even further from the ruled.

The result of this was The Great famine, the most severe in the history of European agriculture from 1845-1848.

The warnings that this would happen were apparent and clear. The historian Woodham-Smith calculated between 1801 and 1845 there had been 114 commissions and 61 special committees dealing with Ireland and that – I quote - "without exception their findings prophesied disaster”

This was a contrast to Britain, which was beginning to enjoy the modern prosperity of the Victorian and Industrial ages.

The root cause of the disaster was the failure of the socio-economic system and the reluctance to admit fix the problems of Laissaiz-Faire, which at the time was regarded as the only viable economic system.
Also, the modification of Laissaiz Faire would reduce profits to the small special interest group.

Laissaiz Faire was the prototype of modern market economics.

The other issue that compounded the problem was the distance of governance.
The 45/48 famine was known as the great famine, or An Gort Mhor.
The failure of one commodity, the primary food crop, led to starvation and disease.
However, other commodity crops such as grain were exported in large quantities to service debts due to absent politician.

A hundred years before, in 1740/1741 there was another famine – the Year of the Slaughter. 10% of the Irish population are estimated to have died. Less is known about it.

However – as there was a government on the Island in Dublin at the time, docks were closed and food exports reduced and curtailed in an effort to alleviate the famine.

Even though those in power were from a tiny segment of the community, they lived in a parallel life of privilege, their proximity to the affected, ensured that pragmatic action was taken and a greater disaster than might have been was averted.

The 1740/41 famine, for example, did not result in the mass emigration of the 1848 famine, partially because the governing classes were closer and more answerable to those in the same society than there successors.

Of course I am not saying that the Lisbon treaty will result in another famine – in this time we are more advanced, but hardship will be experienced in a different way.

In the past, Ireland was an agrarian society, when the model collapsed due to reluctance to change from ill-advised economic concepts and political distance then people went hungry.
In the present Ireland is a service nation, leading in IT and electronic manufacturing.

It will not be the lack of potatoes that will cause pain, it will be the shortage of pounds, pence and euros in our system caused by ill-advised economic concepts and political distance that will put people into debt for decades.

So what can we do to avoid this –
Well, it sort of sucks – the only people who will have a say in the future of Europe are the Citizens of the Irish Republic.
The good news is, there are things we can do.

We can continue to reject the Lisbon treaty until a more democratic alternative, giving better representation, accountability, transparency and democracy is presented.

For Irish readers, the main thing is to get out and vote, you can vote for or against the treaty – that is your choice, but I would urge all of you not to vote for something you don’t understand or do not feel comfortable with and certainly not on the advice of Fianna Failure.

Some feel we should rely on the politicians for advice.

Brian Cowen, The Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) - on 12 May 2008, admitted in a radio interview that he had not read the Treaty of Lisbon in its entirety!!
As a Laywer he is one of the few who has the ability to read such legalese, but it is such a huge body of work I dont blame him.
The Irish times found most people simply did not understand what the thing was about.

For other European readers, write to your representative, make it clear that if you are not given a democratic choice for our Europe of the future, they can count on not getting your vote.

Let people know about this blog and other websites that give an alternative view on Europe.

Remember, We alone have the power to ensure that our political system works for us – that our system works for we the people, not a small corporate and political elite.

Its our choice.

Again, as always – thanks for reading, thanks for listening.

Even if you don’t agree with me – I hope you give some thoughts to the points made

And please let others now about these blogs, podcasts and youtubes.

Citizen Simon - out

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Democratic Displacement - the distance of Governance

I’m Simon and this is the first of several podcasts/Blog/Youtubes planned.
Each will deal with a different aspect of my concerns and objections to what I consider the undemocratic imposition of the Lisbon treaty.

As this blog is also the introductory one, it will be slightly longer than they will be in the future.
I want to talk about what may happen as Governance grows remote from the people of the European Union.
Now – two quick questions –
How many states are there now in the US ?
There are 50 and I knew that without looking it up.
How many states are there now in the EU?
Well, I had to google it – there are 27 member states and Ireland is the only one that has had referendum on the latest version of the EU treaty.

It is comparable to asking only Maine along with Hawaii to or god forbid Alaska to elect the President of the United States

Europe is the cradle from where democracy was born. From its beginnings in Athens it has endured and adapted over the centuries.
As Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

In the History of Europe
Whenever we have moved away from Democratic principles,
Whenever we have vested power in small democratically unaccountable groups and
Whenever the result of the democratic process has been manipulated, ignored or over-ridden it has been to our detriment.

And now, In Ireland, despite a clear democratic result we are expected to go back and do it again.

It’s hardly within the democratic tradition of Europe, but that is the problem inherent in the constitution/treaty itself – it is the forced adoption of a distinctly un-democratic system – and when the rejection is not to the liking of the political class’ they have simply move the goalposts.

From the start I want to make it clear that the Lisbon Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty are fundamentally the same document. Minor changes in content and even the reduction of font size have been used to alter and re-brand the package.
But it is in essence the same document democratically rejected by the populations of France, the Netherlands and the Irish Republic. Other citizens like in the UK have not even been given the opportunity to accept or reject the treaty.

The document presented to us is a radical reform of the way our democratic and social systems work. It proposes more unelected leaders and decision makers

And I object to this - As a European and Irish Citizen, I am concerned that the Lisbon treaty is being imposed on myself and my European fellow citizens despite democratic rejection and legitimate concerns about the process.
It is unwieldy, difficult to understand, obtuse and abstract.
I want to be able to at least understand what the treaty entails before accepting it.

In Irelands case, the special interests and politicians who want us to adopt the treaty/constitution are the same politicians who have led us blindly into an economic Alice in Wonderland, with commercial banks being bailed out despite the actions of their directors, with taxes from private citizens who are facing foreclosure and income loss.

I use the term special interest rather loosely, as it is a familiar term.
It is in essence trans-national corporations, bankers, media groups and others who profit from the current system.
It would also cover some Bureaucrats and Politicians, who –however well intentioned – I feel are underqualified, not accountable enough and too far removed from the average citizen to make such radical changes to our system of governance.

This delusion of the perfect system has occurred many times.
From John Grey’s book, Black Mass – we see it is the same with many historical movements. Nazis, Communists, Jacobins, neo-conservatives et al all believed that their system was the only one for the development of society.

They all believed that after a period of adjustment, once their model was imposed that it would work because it was the pinnacle of human social engineering.
Whether that model is based on genetic, racial, religious, social, political or economic supremacy of one group over another does not matter.
What matters is that this thinking is a inherently flawed concept, a delusion, because there is no such thing as the perfect system. One size does not fit all.
Politics, democracy and governance evolve, adapt, change and develop constantly to meet new challenges and circumstances

The Lisbon treaty is designed to radically change many aspects of the concept of European Unity and I believe it moves us away from the liberal, communal, humanist, social and democratic values and traditions that are a part of what makes Europe what it is.

We are heading down the path of greater privatization in areas such as public services such as education, transport and health, fundamental European values
We are developing a system when we allow transnational corporations – 51 of them in the top 100 global economies - to further influence our affairs.

If there is one lesson that must be held to be true for a democratic society in Europe it is the 186 simple words of an American President, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg – that government must be of the People, by the People, and for the People.

And briefly, lets consider word counts of influential historical texts.

Lincolns Gettysburg address 186 words
The Irish Proclamation of the Republic 473 words
The French Declaration of the rights of mankind 795 words
Britains Magna Carta 3361 words
And The consolidated index of the Lisbon Treaty in English – over 9,000 words

In closing I feel that we the people of the EU, and the people of Ireland, should not be forced to adopt a treaty which the majority do not want.

Its our choice.

Again, as always – thanks for reading, thanks for listening.

Even if you don’t agree with me – I hope you give some thoughts to the points made

And please let others now about these blogs, podcasts and youtubes.

Citizen Simon - out

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