The sleeping giant kicks and resumes its slumber

Byron Murphy
Deputy Editor/News Editor

It’s been a long time since we had a more interesting news week for UCC, Cork or Ireland for that matter than the one which kicked off November. Starting with various reports on the registration fee, we saw the largest student march since the sixties on Wednesday marred by unnecessary violence by both protestors and Gardaí. Then Cork was rocked as the Examiner stuck its neck out and reported that Neil Prendeville, one of the nation’s most prominent hosts and soothing voice for those elderly who like to hear how bad things are, was found having sex with the person he loves most in the world on a plane. Finally, Brian Lenihan announced that the horrible figure of €3 billion in cuts was now to be doubled, and I put my suitcase on my bedroom floor in preparation for next September when I leave this doomed country with an apologetic “Cheers for the degrees lads, have a good one.”
In truth I’ve already heard from the trickle down which happens in these things that the figure will really be 7 billion, but at a certain point does it matter? Taking that much out of the economy will be disastrous, it will have the biggest effect on the poorest in society and will cripple the financial recovery of the country for a decade. I know you’ve heard this a million times now, and that makes me worry. It is apparent that Irish people no longer care. If people cared, they would have taken to the streets earlier, in more numbers and perhaps with torches.
Sure, people will gather around water coolers talking about ‘the shower above in Dublin” and saying “that Kevin Myers really gives it to them I’m telling you”, but that’s it. If you wonder why we have one of the most embarrassing, unrepresentative governments in the developed world, it’s because we have neglected our own duty in politics.
I very much subscribe to the work of systems theorist Niklas Luhmann, who describes the political system as having three parts. There’s the executive, who sets the agenda for collectively binding decisions. There’s the administration, which puts these in place, and there’s the public who through voting or protest say “yay” or “nay” to these decisions. In this interpretation, in our lack of activity in the process we’ve said a resounding “yay!” to all of the decisions made by the current regime.
“But Byron you daring gadfly!”, I hear you say, “40,000 students took to the streets last week, is this not the extremest of political activity?” to which I would reply that France had a nationwide strike almost across the board when the government increased the pension age by two years, to 62 (an age you could call brimming with youth compared to our pension age). No, the reality is that the situation we have faced in the past year would have had other countries burning public buildings by now.
So on that note, you might infer that I approve of the actions of the ‘militant’ (oh please) groups who stormed the Department of Finance last week. To be very honest I’m not sure if I do or not, but I will say this; if you continue to do nothing, you’re putting your back behind the Fianna Fáil Scorched Earth policy of economics. If you want a country where what people want is what actually happens, it’s going to take much more than marches. It requires taking a page from our European neighbour’s book. But I don’t see that happening.

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