Ninetieth anniversary of the first Dáil: History repeating itself, the second time as farce

21 January 2009

Yesterday the Government marked the ninetieth anniversary of the first Dáil Éireann. The fact that they could not even organise to book a room on the actual day is of itself symptomatic of the shambolic state of this Government and our country. 
     The first Dáil proclaimed and asserted national democracy and the sovereignty of our people, their unfettered control over their destiny and their ownership of all the country’s natural resources, and proclaimed the equality of all citizens. 
     Ninety years later the Irish political establishment, which lays claim to the legacy of the Democratic Programme adopted by the first Dáil, presides over a society in which the majority of our children suffer in overcrowded schools, our people wait in endless queues for deteriorating medical services, and families once again face the scourge and trauma of mass emigration, while a minority enjoy the benefits of wealth and privilege. This minority can sit comfortably in private clinics awaiting private medical treatment; their sons and daughters will go to schools that are well resourced, with smaller class sizes, and believe it is their unquestionable right and privilege to attend third-level colleges. 
     This Government oversees a growing economic crisis, increasing inequality, the control of our natural resources by transnational corporations, and the use of Shannon Airport as a transit point for people bound and gagged on torture flights and as a stopping-off point for American armed forces on their way to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
     The neutrality of the state is almost gone. Power has been ceded to an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels, and we retain very few of the attributes of a sovereign state or people. 
     Several different political parties are represented in Dáil Éireann but they share a single ideology. The dreams and aspirations of the mass of working people, robbed as they from 1919 of a better life and of a democratic, sovereign and independent country, continue to be denied equality, justice, and fairness. Our country and our people continue to be divided and dominated. Power, then as now, rests with the elite. History has repeated itself, this time as farce.