Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When I grow up I want to be old and agitating

WHAT a week last week was, the dissent following the Budget broke onto the streets culminating in the largest and angriest demonstrations in a long time, certainly in terms of particular groupings in our society in a long time. Yes there have been large anti-war demonstrations but that has attracted protests from across the board, this week has been different and brilliant for that difference.

First we had the Budget speech which on first hearing had some pretty stark and dire cutbacks and while we were expecting a hard Budget this surpassed everything given that the very people who did not benefit from the boom years here once again were being expected to pay hard for a Government that cruised its way through good times. Over the days that followed it became clear the Budget was even worse than first anticipated.

The first murmurings of 'no way' came from the pensioners. Their automatic right to a medical card once over 70 was being taken away. Phonelines to politicians, radio shows, the media have been hopping since then as older people, their family and friends have all made sure anyone and everyone would listen to the fact they were not happy with this, not happy at all. Not since SPUC organised mass call-ins to popular tv and radio shows in the 1980s (when a handful of calls could jam the Late Late Show phonelines) have we seen anything like it.

At a public meeting they bayed for blood, settling for heckling Government representatives at a public meeting where they concluded by singing 'We shall overcome'. Culminating all this action with a protest to the Dail the next day. Booking out complete carriages on trains all over the country descending on Dublin, they showed how a demonstration should be done. Placards were hastily put together using whatever came to hand, crutches, walking sticks, paper and cellotape with all sorts of witticisms. One which seems to have been a firm favourite with everyone I spoke to was the ‘no country for old men’ movie poster.

DP 20

DP 17 DP 16 DP 12
DP 13 DP 14 DP 15

I think this shot tells it all, look at that man's face, actually both of their faces.

DP 10

In the most organised non-organised campaign (certainly at the beginning anyway), they dominated the airwaves, taken pride of place in all the calls made to Joe Duffy with his show focusing on them for over a week; they have been splashed over newspaper, they have phoned, emailed and visited their local representatives, their families have done the same on their behalf. They are p*ss*d off and they want us to know, and their message could not have been clearly put.

DP 19

DP 4

DP 8

Dail protest 10

Dail protest 6

They were followed by the students who thankfully didn’t let the side down and surpassed the pensioners in sound only. Both demonstrations were fantastic, you could feel people quaking in their boots around Leinster House, course the Garda presence was much heavier for the students.

SP 4

SP 1

SP 3

So lets see what this week brings, are the teachers and parents going to descend on the Dáil in the same numbers. I sincerely hope so, I’ll be there anyway. Increasing class sizes will hit children hard, children who already have a number of stumbling blocks to overcome. Lets face it, if you have money and spend it on your child’s education, class sizes is probably not something you worry about. For the rest of us who believe that education should be free and ability to pay should not mean your child has a better education, increasing class sizes is ensuring some kids will be left behind. That could be your child.

The demonstration is on Wednesday evening (October 29th) at 6.30pm outside the Dáil to coincide with the Labour Party Private Members’ Motion on class sizes.

If you cannot come but would like to do something you can phone or email your TD (the Oireachtas emails follow the patter firstname.lastname@oir.ie) and let them know of your concerns. The phone lines to public representatives have been hopping over the last couple of weeks and it does makes a difference. So lets see what this week brings.

(As ever there are more pics from last week's demos on Flickr.)


Unknown said...

your journalistic ability continues to awe me.

Darragh said...

I love the eye for photos and people you have. You consistently make me want to take time choosing my shots and get the right photo.

Great post, great photos, well deserved award!

Anonymous said...

You use your beautiful eyes to great effect behind the camera lens.

Great post and very well done on winning the award!

Paul Dervan said...

hi, congrats on the awards. Drop me a mail with your details. I'll get the phone prize out to you, on behalf on O2.


Bock the Robber said...

Congratulations on your well-deserved award.