Last weekend I was busy at our conference in Killarney. I would like to thank the staff at the Gleneagles Hotel for their hard work. I would like to thank the private security and the Guards for their hard work as well as their friendly attitude. the Irish Guards are in the main a great police force.
It was nice to meet old friends and to meet new friends. We had to make difficult choices in government. We had to do things that we didn’t like doing. The bailout is over. The IMF the EU and the ECB have left the country. As a government we will seek to focus on the creation of jobs. We want to resolve the greatest crisis facing us as a country the high levels of unemployment. We are making progress but we realise that we need to do more work in creating jobs for our people. Councillor Ronan Sheehan of Mallow spoke of the need to combat the obesity problem facing our young people through sport. As a former player and now a manager in the Mallow GAA Councillor Sheehan knows the importance of sport in making our country a better place.
John O Brien
People who want to change society should ask 2 questions if they want to succeed in their task. They should ask themselves what type of society do they want. Do they want a totally transformed society? Do people want slight changes to society as it presently is? These questions deal with the aims that one has.
For people who want to change society are divided into 2 groups. They are the revolutionaries who believe that violent revolution by a minority can bring about a better society. The reformists believe that the people democratically can change society for the better. This change will be achieved slowly.
My problem with the revolutionaries is that history has proven them wrong. The French Revolution promised liberty for all. But instead of liberty the French people got tyranny. The Soviet Revolution promised a republic of equal citizens. Instead of a free and an equal republic the Soviet Union was a slave state ruled by a state elite.
No society is perfect. All societies need to change. I believe that revolution creates more problems than it solves. Only gradual democratic change can make society better than it is now.
John O Brien.
The issue of paid parking continues to be debated in Mallow. The Town Council argues that it needs the money to run the town. Why should pay parking be privatized? Why is a private company running the pay parking in Mallow? This to me removes democracy from decision making in Mallow. A private company is not answerable to the people of Mallow. The money to pay the rates do not fall from the sky. It comes from local business. Pay parking is driving business out of Mallow. It is reducing the local tax base in Mallow.
The issue of paid parking is a sign of the lack of real local democracy in Ireland. It is local officials and privatized services like waste collection that have power in local government. The new reforms will mean less councillors. It will mean that the officials and central government will have more power than they do at the moment. National and international democracy should be based on local democracy. The early Fabian socialists believed that was the only method humanity should use to change society was democracy. They were interested in local government. They sought to reform local government. They sought to make local government more democratic. We should be grateful that we live in a democratic society. The struggle for democracy has not ended,it continues today. We and future generations must continue to make Ireland more democratic in our local as well as in our national institutions. The struggle continues.
John O Brien.
Many of the social debates that has plagued Ireland over many decades has been about issues of personal morality and the law. In a free society where people of different religions and people of no religion live together people’s personal moral beliefs should remain personal. They shouldn’t be the business of the state. The conflicts of the last few decades has also to do with the role of the Catholic Church in the Irish state. The role of the church in the affairs of state in Ireland concerns me. Instead of making the state more religious the role of the Catholic Church in Ireland is making the church more political.
I believe in the separation of the church and state. The former President Jimmy Carter is a faithful Christian. He still believes that politics should be separated from religion. There is nothing irreligious in supporting the separation of the church and state. President Carter believes that politics should be secular. Let religion deal with the spiritual aspect of life. Let politics deal with the temporal aspect of life.
John O Brien.
Pope Francis wants a poor Church for the poor .President Michael D Higgins visits the tomb of Archbishop Romero in San Salvador. While these people believe in justice for the poor I get the impression that the poor are treated like dirt by most countries.
In Ireland the dole for the under 26 year olds was cut. This was a disgraceful action. In Spain the state don’t help the under 26 year olds. In America if you are poor you are considered worthless. Poverty and unemployment is caused by a lack of jobs in the economy. During our Celtic Tiger economy we had full employment. No one cared about welfare rates.
We are blaming the poor for the crash in our economy. We are blaming the victims for the crash. Starvation and death is no solution for the problems of poverty. It seems that internationally under our neo liberal tyranny starvation and death is the solution proposed to the problems of poverty internationally.
Ireland is a compassionate country. We are a decent people. We do seek to help the poor. Compared to most other countries we Irish should be proud of ourselves. I fear the under the guise of the bailout the IMF, EU and ECB are trying to drag Ireland down to the level of crueller countries. I urge Irish people to hold onto our compassion. I urge Irish people to realise that the poor are our brothers and sisters. We could find ourselves poor one day.
It was the injustice of poverty that united both left and right after World War 2 to create the welfare state. Let us return to the mixed economy. Let us reject neo liberalism.
John O Brien.
John O Brien.
We live in a world of change. Nothing stays the same. We must embrace change. But not all new ideas are for the best for humanity. We still have something to learn from the past.
An area of today’s world that I find that needs to be rejected is our present belief in free market capitalism. The new free trade agreement between the EU and Canada shows that we have not learnt from the lessons of the 2008 crash. Not all eras of history are as depressing as today’s world. After 1945 the democratic world decided that they were going to reject the mistakes of the past. Social democrats left liberals and conservatives had compassion for the poor. They created the welfare state, created the mixed economy and put job creation at the heart of government policy. They made mistakes, they were human. Their motivation was noble. I wish we would reject neo liberal capitalism and accept the mixed economy where employers employees and state workers could come together to make our world a better place. This is a protect that both left and right could embrace.
John O Brien.
Politics should be a battle of ideas. It shouldn’t be a personality contest. In a democracy where people accept the basic ideas of democracy then we should respect our opponents. We believe that they have different views to us but they believe that their views will better society. I hate it when the private life and the family of politicians are brought into public debate. Certain sections of the media are more guilty of this practice than politicians are. Unlike the media politicians are elected.
We are getting ready for the local and the European elections in 2014. I hope we will respect each other. I hope that respect the motives that our rivals have in going for elections. Our difference with the other parties should be based on a battle of ideas. Our difference with others should be based on how we can serve the people.
John O Brien.