Dirty Girls and Dirty Debt

There are 800 skeletons of small children found in a septic tank in Tuam, Co Galway. This horrific discovery was first made back in the 1960s by two small boys but nothing was done, no investigation made, not even a graveyard instituted. It was left to a local man Padraig to try and create a small memorial and sadly he passed away last week. It was left to local historian Catherine Corless to try and provide a proper and fitting response.

The babies were looked after in a Bon Secours institution, called ironically The Home, from 1920s to the 1960s The babies were all born to unwed mothers; mothers who were thrown out of their family homes to give birth to their bastard children in an institution. If their babies survived they were often forcibly sold into adoption with suitable parents. The death toll of these children was four times the national average. The girls were often forced to work as indentured slaves as a punishment for their crime of having a child out of wedlock.

Some pregnancies would have been as a result of violence and perhaps rape. Some would have been as a result of ignorance of contraception – and the total lack of same in contraceptive-free Ireland, even married women could not easily avail of contraceptives. Some of the woman probably enjoyed it, probably wanted more, and probably wilfully engaged in sex without any due regard to the consequences of getting caught. Dirty girls. They deserved all they got. They should not have had sex outside of marriage – even if they were forced – and they probably had it more than once. It was all their fault.

As for the offspring? They were bastards, and if lucky to survive, would be taken off the dirty girls. They didn’t deserve anything either.

Does that sound familiar?  There are 300,000 families in mortgage arrears in this country. There are 27,000 families facing eviction this year. There are more than two suicides every day, many of them from financially inspired reasons. Yet, instead of compassion, we hear the same moralistic tones. They were greedy with debt. They wanted more. They probably had it more than once. They couldn’t control themselves. For God’s sake, could they not control themselves. They could not keep their dirty hands out of the bank account. Could they not behave and not borrow. Disgusting people, greedy people, dirty people, and dirty debt.

So while the banks, as the religious institutions before them, blame those in debt, take their possessions, lock them in perpetual servitude, shame them and cause misery onto the innocents – the babes in the homes – we, as a society, look on. We tut tut. It was all their fault we say. They were dirty, debt people. They should have known better. They enjoyed themselves while we stayed home and were miserly. They were greedy, dirty, debt accumulators. Now let them pay the price. As for the children in those homes, where the parents are now dying of debt every day, where there is misery even onto suicide, we do not need to concern ourselves with those children. They are the children of the dirty debt brigade. They are different from our children. We will let them suffer, the little children, even onto the banks’ profits.

There but for the grace of God go I.  And you.

 

 

History is littered with the successes of failures  

I am no longer campaigning

I am no longer a Wicklow county council candidate

I am not longer a European Parliament candidate

I am no longer pressed on all sides for my opinion on topics as diverse as youth, LGBT, energy and age

I no longer get to sign pledges with impressive looking organisations

My phone has stopped beeping every two seconds

Journalists have stopped ringing me

Radio stations no longer want to talk to me

TV is no longer calling

 

I am now officially in a vacuum in which I can draw breathe and relax

 

So while I failed in my attempt to get elected what were my successes?

 

I successfully changed the law on April 16, 2014, and from there launched my European campaign

I was successful in earning 11,500 votes from people across the Ireland South constituency

I was successful in earning 250 votes from local Wicklow people

I was successful in speaking on radio with LE candidates

I was successful in speaking on radio with fellow EP candidates

I was successful in appearing on television with fellow EP candidates

I was successful in appearing in print and online articles across the region

I was successful in meeting many wonderful people and listening to their stories

I was successful in meeting my fellow EP candidates and forming a bond with them

I was successful in running a campaign over ten counties

I was successful in enjoying the experience with every bone in my body

I was successful in keeping the issue of debt front and centre

I was successful in helping to people burdened with debt to feel better

I was successful in making the country talk about Europe and ‘not our debt’

I was successful in surviving and thriving on the experience

 

And I look forward to many more successes from my failures

Thank you!

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Running the Race

Sunday morning, 25 May 2014

I have run the race and am reaching the end. I have yet to cross the line but it is in sight. My legs are sore, my breathing laboured and there are rubs on my feet.  There are many ahead of me; a goodly pack of politicians, first timers, old timers, new seekers, tired thinkers, young ones, old ones and inbetween ones. There are even one or two stragglers behind me. We have all run our race, some with parties, some without, some with zeal, some with polish, some with ideas quite divergent and some with ideas that are as old as the earth we cross.

In this race there were moments when people slipped, were pushed or just fell. Mostly the other runners skipped over or ran around the runner on the ground. It was rare a hand was held out by another runner; it is not that kind of race. But it was common for the spectators to rush forward and pull the runner to his feet, to push water into his hand and to chivvy him on his way. No runner left behind, not until the fat lady sings anyway.

When I first put my name forward for this race, my friend and neighbour Tony said to me: Are you cotton pickin mad?. And I looked him in the eye and said; Yes. But I had it worked out in my head.

It was never about getting elected; it was always about making a difference.

This was the same conversation I had with Deputy Shane Ross; one of the first people I spoke with about running and who subsequently gave me the highest compliment possible; giving me his endorsement along with campaigner Diarmiud O’Flynn with a ringing cry ‘Two noble independent battlers. Both deserve seats. 

I entered this race with the end in mind; the prize I wanted was the race itself. I wanted to use my time to talk about the burning issue at the heart of my personal campaign for the past three years: the unjust treatment of Irish families in debt. I wanted to stop to vilification of people in debt.

I wanted to change the law and language and the bullying.

To me, running was not about winning, it was about making a difference.

Of course, there were times along the way when the voice of pride spoke into my ear; you can win it said softly and sinuously. You can take a seat. You can go to Europe. I listened but shook my head. Winning was never about getting elected, whatever Selfish Pride might say. I knew from the start that my message, while loudspeaker noisy, was unlikely to translate into medals. I was unlikely to be in the ribbons. Still, when I heard my vote from the local count last night I was saddened a little.

Every vote I got was humbling, every vote I didn’t get was equally so.

But Selfish Pride washed no babies, helped no neighbours and gave no hope to a family in distress.

 

So, as I prepare to travel down to Cork to meet my fellow European candidates I do so with the right kind of pride in my heart.

The pride of having run the race to the end, to having treated my fellow candidates with respect.

The pride of helping where I could, and certainly not harming where I was able.

The pride of having stood shoulder to shoulder as we prepared for war; under the lights of the TV cameras, before the microphones in the studio, or caught in the glare of the inquisitor searching for the truth.

To my fellow combatants: I salute you on the race run. I am honoured to have run beside you, behind you and sometimes (in a rare moment) even in front of some of you.

And as I come to end of the race I ran, my wish is that people remember what I stood for and what I will continue to stand for until such time as fairness, justice and truth are the norm.

And now – the fat lady sings. For the hidden pain of debt – I think in hymns. And I thank you for allowing me to run the race.

And I cross the line.

postscript. I continued to Cork where I was amazed and proud to exit the race on 11,5000 votes. Now, my race is run. Thank you.

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Giving Thanks

I want to give thanks for my children, Georgina and Kathryn

I want to give thanks for my mum Mary and my five siblings: Arthur, Ena, Richard, Ann and John

I want to give thanks for my nephews and nieces

I want to give thanks for my friends

I want to give thanks for my neighbours

I want to give thanks for my acquaintances

I want to give thank for strangers who gave me a kind word

I want to give thanks to everyone who helped me along the way

I want to give thanks for every kind wish sent my way

I want to give thanks for everyone who listened to me

I want to give thanks for being alive and well and full of joy

I give thanks

Debt is the single biggest issue of our century – Primetime Monday 19, 2014

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Debt is the single biggest issue facing the Irish people this century both on a national and European stage.  When history comes to be written the issue of debt in our time will be as big an issue as the famine was in the 19th century. And ironically, the misery caused by both – the deaths, suicides, emigration and homelessness – are utterly preventable.

 

We know that we hold 42 percent of the debt from the banking crisis in Europe. We also know this is wrong, that this is an unjust debt, an odious debt.

 

The current government was voted in three years ago with an overwhelming mandate to renegotiate this debt but they did nothing. They did not even ask for a single cent back.

 

This is why I want to go to Europe to right that wrong.
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Why should you send me to Europe? I have personally felt the impact of austerity in a real and painful fashion. Last year the banks repossessed my home, my business failed and bailiffs called to my door. I tried the Insolvency Service but I was too broke. I was forced to go bankrupt. But as I hit rock bottom I started fighting back. As a bankrupt I was not allowed to run for public office so I took a case against the government in the High Court claiming my constitutional rights were being infringed. As soon as I had a trial date, the government backed down and rushed through the law to allow me to run. On April 16, 2014, I changed the law.

 

Now I want to go to Europe to fight the odious debt, the haemorrhaging of billions into Europe that could be used to stop the suffering and misery here.

 

In short, I have the tee-shirt, the experience and the passion to make a difference.

Vote Jill and send me to Europe.

Thank you

Link to Prime Time here – I am first on at minute 33  

 

 

 

Shane Ross endorses Jillian Godsil – with Diarmuid O’Flynn

Deputy Shane Ross has announced he is endorsing my candidacy for Ireland South in the upcoming European European elections. He has also taken the unusual step of endorsing a fellow Independent Candidate Diarmuid O’Flynn, founder of the Ballyhea Protestors. We are both running in Ireland South. The election is on May 23rd.

Last night Shane announced on Twitter:

I will endorse both Jillian Godsil AND Diarmuid O’Flynn for Europe. Two noble independent battlers. Both deserve seats. Sorry decision delay.

Please find his tweet here 

This is an outstanding day for democracy. Irish citizens now have the option to vote for the people of their choice and not be curtailed by party politics. It sends a clear signal to the government that Independents are the new Opposition.

I personally am very honoured to have received Shane’s endorsement. I am also proud to be endorsed alongside Diarmuid O’Flynn whose dedication to Ireland and justice is unrivalled,

 

To be named by one Irish patriot in the company of another is a wonderful day indeed.

I came to prominence over the past three years when I very publicly documented my personal descent into financial misery; divorce and recession combined to force the collapse of my business, the repossession of my home by the banks and finally push me into bankruptcy. But even as I hit rock bottom, I began fighting back for people in similar distress. I am tireless in calling out the injustice of leaving the banks in charge, in the unfit for purpose insolvency laws and the lack of transparency in Ireland. On April 16 I single handedly changed the laws in Ireland, removing the ban on bankrupts to run for public office, and now I have set my sights on Europe – to undo the unjust burden of 42% of the banking debt on the Irish people.

l was once called the brokest woman in Ireland. If voted into Europe, I can wear the title of the brokest woman in Europe for the Insolvency Service has vowed to take any salary off me for the next eight years – to give it to the banks!

Before becoming bankrupt, I had serious international experience having held senior jobs in London, Sydney and Singapore. I am no stranger to international business. I will moreover use my journalist and broadcast skills to shine a light into Europe. My planned regular TV programme has a working title #thegravytrain.

Please vote Independent on May 23rd.

 

thank you

Jillian

Debt is Divisive

Debt is Divisive

If you prefer you can listen to this essay here in part I, part II and part III – in total it takes less than ten minutes to listen to all three recordings.

Let us be very clear about this issue. Debt is divisive. At the risk of being inflammatory, it gets the same level of mixed emotion as the R word. Depending on your perspective, and level of solvency, it can be a very dirty word. Debt is genuinely divisive.

Where the needle turns is when the system breaks down, as it has done on an international basis. We are now living in unchartered waters where the rules have changed and the language is polarised. We need to understand what debt is, how we got into it, how we get out of it – and how we deal with debt when the system is broken. And we need to do this without the rhetoric of hate, shame and scapegoating. Nobody said debt was easy but it doesn’t need to be so hard. And it doesn’t need to cost life – no more please.

Let’s consider debt. In the good ole days, getting into debt was a normal rite of passage for an adult. A person finished education and got a job and moved out of home. In time, they maybe purchased a car which probably would require a motor loan and then in Ireland, they would buy a home, definitely requiring a mortgage unless they were a drug dealer. Acquisition of debt was normal. It was laudable even.  In the good ole days, exiting from debt was fairly straightforward too. As a person aged, they paid off their mortgage and loans, entering retirement with a home in their name (no longer the banks) and a few bob in their pocket. This progression was fairly typical whether the person bought a semi-detached house in Tallaght or a red brick in Ranelagh.  Debt wasn’t an issue. Whether they had a large mortgage on a big house or a modest one on a bungalow, debt was just part of life – a part that people passed through with lots of hard work but without much drama.

Then the financial world changed. We were particularly unlucky here in Ireland in that we had already changed dramatically before the financial crises. The timing for our Celtic Tiger could not have been more unfortunate for it catapulted hundreds of thousands of people into immediate and painful Debt (now spelt with a capital D).

Let’s consider the Celtic Tiger briefly for a moment. When I left Ireland in 1987 I was a very proud Irishwoman. Ireland was seen as a shining example of how a small, modern economy could create great wealth despite a scarcity of natural resources, no manufacturing base and a tiny population. We were doing it again – taking our place on a world stage out of all proportion to our global importance. It was a triumph of spirit over adversity. In fact, it seemed that our very history had somehow conspired to take our difficult path to sovereignty and use it as a lever to leapfrog us to greatness. Since the crash, we have forgotten that it was our natural talents that created the Celtic Tiger, not the property bubble – that came afterwards. The property bubble was the symptom of our success not the engine.

So even as we were creating real wealth, developing new businesses and becoming an intellectual powerhouse in Europe, things were changing and property became the outward symbol of our success and ultimately as we all know, the bubble that ‘did us in.’

 

There are some thoughts on debt that I want to share, thoughts on debt before it became Debt.

When the financial crisis deepened, so too language changed around debt. Terms should as debt forgiveness, debt cleansing and moral hazard began to be part of the conversation, only these terms were being generated by the financial industry and used a weapon against ordinary people. If you were a developer or a banker, you could argue for business negotiation but if you were an individual, you had to ask for debt forgiveness. Not only was the little person the lowly supplicant, the bank held all the cards. Debt forgiveness wasn’t a right, it was a gift at the behest of the banks.  Not only was the language changing, overnight the rules changed. The banks went from the position of throwing money at people with the loosest of terms, to become predatory institutions capable and ready to act in the letter of the law. Once the financial crisis gathered pace, people were set up to fail.

Of course, at this stage, naysayers are all pointing out that people did not have to borrow the money. That is was their choice. That they have nobody to blame but themselves. That people were greedy.

Let me try and give you another perspective. For starters, had we not hit the financial crisis, those ‘greedy’ people might very well have succeeded and their decisions viewed as sound commercial actions and lauded for their success. There is a very fine line when judging someone’s debt. Move the needle on the time dial backwards a few years and the general conversation might be very different.

Then someone’s greed may be another person’s desire to better themselves; to provide a college education for their children, to grow a business or to provide a pension for old age. Human beings are infinite and diverse. Greed alone is too blunt a term to apply to borrowing. However, greed is a very apt word to apply to banks whose sole function is to make money and moreover to make money in the short term.

Language is a very important indicator of what is happening in this debate and despite the soaring levels of anger in this country – against the banks, against the defaulters, against the bondholders, against the government – it is being used most effectively by the establishment.  Language is being used to shame people in Debt. For some reason, Debt has become a moral issue, an ethical issue. Let me state very clearly here that language is a very powerful weapon in the armoury of the banks. Debt is not a moral issue, debt is a business condition.

I met someone recently who said to me: I was brought up to repay my debts. The comment sunk in and I realised the chilling implication was that somehow, as a bankrupt, I had been brought up not to pay my debts. I was shocked. Prior to my financial collapse, I had not so much as a library fine, a parking ticket or an unpaid debt of any kind. I had been brought up to repay my debts in common with the 300,000 Irish families now in mortgage arrears. So what had changed? Had we (as in those of us in financial distress) suddenly changed our moral perspective, our ethics? How had this happened to not just one person but to thousands of people overnight? Of course, the answer is not that people’s ethics had suddenly morphed into those of the artful dodger, but the recession combined with changing rules forced people into untenable positions, positions that can count their cost in blood. Now, that to me is a moral issue – that Debt can be the catalyst for suicide. Now with this understanding, we can rightly use the language of the bible to challenge this condition.

Let us consider why banks can shame people, even onto the ultimate tragedy of suicide, and yet the blame remains with the person. Now, that to me is both a moral and an ethical issue. How can do they do this? By a combination of complicated guile and extreme arrogance is how.

One of the key weapons on the side of the banks is the complete lack of transparency.  IBM sales men of old used the FUD argument to sell their product; fear, uncertainty and doubt. Banks are the ultimate purveyors of such confusion. It allows them to control the rules, change the rules and keep the solvent fighting the insolvent. Consider how you get into debt? It is very easy. There are algorithms based on salary, age, health and the asset you want to buy. Of course, you can shop around but the amount you can borrow is pretty transparent.  So, why can’t the getting out of debt be so simple?

Right now, the new insolvency laws are cumbersome, clumsy and frankly do not work. So far only four people have successfully navigated the Insolvency Service, four in total. The banks have the veto and are in charge. I know for had the banks not vetoed the sale of my home in 2011, I might not be here. I might not bankrupt. I might not be writing articles about debt. I might not be running for Europe and instead be home minding my own business. But history cannot be unwritten and so I was bowled down to the Insolvency Service only to be told I was too broke and as a last resort I was forced to go bankrupt.  I have spoken with PIPs up and down the country and they are all advising their clients NOT to work for the duration of the bankruptcy, for three years. How dysfunctional is that? I am resigned to the fact that I have lost my home, my life savings and all my possessions – but I will fight for the right to work for my future and that of my children’s future.

If we had transparency, then we could see how to get out of debt. Another important point to remember about the banks is that when they lend money they charge interest. This is not a charitable action on their part and the interest is the benefit they get for the risk involved. Only, they are currently safeguarded in the country and have little or no risk. Most of the money they lent has already been paid for in terms of cost. It is an accounting exercise – paid for by the interest they charge. But let us have transparency on how to get out of debt. No more hidden deals, no more who you know and no more how much money you have to pay expensive professionals.  Just transparent laws and steps to exit Debt. It is a business issue you know.

I met another woman on the door step who listened to what I had to say about debt and Debt. I watched her face throughout my monologue and it was unsmiling. At the end, I put out my hand and touched her elbow. ‘You don’t like what I am saying,’ I said. She nodded. She did not agree at all. She had worked hard all her life. She and her husband had made a decision not to have foreign holidays for ten years in order to send their children to college on very modest borrowings. Now she felt angry that people, people such as myself, might be able to escape debt. I nodded and fully understood. I totally got her perspective and empathised with her.

But while I felt for her, I also wanted to talk to her about the society we live in, that our children grow up in. If the banks put people onto the street, aside from the human carnage, it costs the State, and the taxpayer more. If the banks are allowed harass and bully people, then we create an oppressed society where joy and laughter are absent, where children grow up surrounded by silent and shamed parents, where the only answer is emigration, where we put back the progress of our nation by decades.

 

While it takes two to tango, when the music stops, it unfair to only have one chair for the banks.

 

Let’s give ordinary people a fair crack of the whip. Let’s stop vilifying people in Debt; it is only money after all. Let’s recognise that debt is a business issue with a small ‘d’. Let’s introduce fair ways of exiting unsustainable debt (the same rules to apply to the insolvent as well as to the rich), Let’s be kind to one another, stop doing the banks’ work for them, and insist on parity of risk. Let’s be a country that can be proud once more and look our neighbour in the eye once again.

Above all, let’s cherish our people, let’s stand up to Europe, let us be a proud nation once again.

Send me to Europe

I am also making a documentary to explore the hidden story of modern Ireland. Called An Uncomfortable Truth, this is the documentary that they didn’t want made. This is the story they wanted to bury. This is the truth that no one in Europe wanted to admit. This is the story of Modern Ireland.  This is the story of Ireland in Austerity – the real story.

The Ireland that did not rebel, the Ireland that did not overthrow its corrupt leaders, the Ireland that did not eject its politicians – but the Ireland that is suffering daily, the Ireland that has 40 times more debt per capita than any other Euro Nation, the Ireland who has pushed debt on its children’s children and the Ireland that was sold a pup for Europe – holding 42 percent of ALL euro debt. They didn’t want to know but we are going to tell them anyway.

http://fundit.ie/project/funders/an-uncomfortable-truth-the-documentary

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Exclusive – first online only poster for a European Candidate

Welcome to my world.  A world without posters littering the highways and the byways. A world where the candidates actually look like their photograph (and are taken recently). And a world where the candidate asks politely if you will please vote for them.

Please vote for me!

I can stop sleeping with my assenters now

You’ll be glad to hear that I can stop sleeping with my assenters now. For the past two weeks I have done nothing but talk, breathe and sleep my assenters. In my tiny house, my centre of elections has been my bedroom and as the days moved closer to the nominations date, I slept on less and less of my bed as the assenter forms took over. It was the filmic equivalent of the march of the assenter forms.

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I should pause to explain. In lieu of a financial deposit, candidates can collect assenter forms. For local elections 15 are required, for European a weighty 60 are needed. These forms do not commit the assenter to supporting the candidate, voting for the candidate or even suggesting the candidate is of sound mind. However each and every assenter must be a registered voter in the same constituency as the candidate. And, here is where it gets difficult, each assenter must have their form witnessed by a garda or a commissioner of oaths.

It was suggested that it might be easier to lodge a deposit and I cannot argue with that sentiment, except when the modest deposit of €100 for the local office is half my weekly income. As for the €1800 required for Europeans? Well, my children would need to forgo sustenance for some weeks to stomp up that amount.

So instead I opted for assenter forms. Friends would run in the opposite direction when they saw me coming. I compulsively counted and recounted my growing stack of forms like a miserly Santa checking his lists. I pestered friends, I chased acquaintances and I even accosted strangers. ‘Give me your form’ was my battle cry in place of ‘Give me your vote.’

On Friday I travelled down to Cork to lodge my forms and yesterday I did the same in Wicklow. I am now officially on the ballot. My bed is returned to me. My friends can relax when they see me coming. And now instead of asking for your form, I am asking for your vote. Let the battle commence!

 

And now for something completely different: As I was driving home yesterday from lodging my forms in Wicklow, a bird – well I presume it was bird – defecated on my windscreen and across the roof of my car. From the pictures below you can see why I question the originator of the excrement. The whole car shook. Once I got over my shock I started to laugh. I am of the opinion that bird pooh is lucky, a sentiment perhaps to cover the mess, but nevertheless I have always had this notion. Given that thought, I realised I must be one of the luckiest people in the kingdom!

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It is that simple – really!

History is littered with examples of ordinary people making the impossible possible

 

Think Rosa Parkes and the civil rights movement

Think of that student in front of the Tank in Tiananmen Square

Think of the little boy and the Emperor’s New Clothes (ok he was fictional)

Think of the power of someone who has nothing to lose and everything to gain

 

Think of me and give me your vote on May 23rd

I have changed the law. I can do so much more.

Send me to Europe to ask for our money back.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:  ‘You have not failed until you have quit trying.’

 Visit An Uncomfortable Truth documentary here 

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