Three things I learnt at Trailblazers

The first is that I am not afraid. I wanted to rise up from my seat in the upper Special Criminal Court house and call it out. Colm O’Gorman was speaking. It felt a bit like the eponymous Jeffers’ book: Feel the fear but do it anyway. My heart pounded and I wanted to stand up and call it out but it wasn’t my time and maybe I had confused my emotion with a film from Hollywood. But I felt it very strongly.

The second is the level of propaganda promulgated by the status quo. When Ross Maguire spoke he talked of giving ordinary home owners a break, a time out. He wanted a dignified mechanism that could be implemented without the mortgage holder having to beg for help or worse not been listened to at all. Terms such as debt forgiveness and moral hazard are used by …bankers. How dare they? The purveyors of Usury should not be allowed to dictate the ethics of our society. For that is at the very nub of this problem. We are a society of individuals who have come together to create our world. Service providers, such as finance houses, are there to fit into our cultural, moral and ethical rules. Bankers should not dictate what is right in our society. Politicians are there to regulate how various different service providers in our society behave. We, the people, elect the politicians to make the laws, not the banks.  So we have to stop listening to banking propaganda and believing it to be true, especially when they use terms laden with emotive meanings. If the financial processes in our society are broken, then we need to fix them.  We have been brain washed to believe the rapacious banker who evicts a family from their home is right. We didn’t believe that when the English did it, so why do we believe it when our own do it?

The third thing I learnt is that people are caring. I sat next to a couple who were both self-employed and have a large mortgage. They were doing okay. Thankfully they were able to meet repayments but it wasn’t easy. These are the very people we are told who will not have ‘debt forgiveness’ or ‘debt breaks’ or any leniency for families in financial trouble. We are told that we cannot look afresh at debt for those in trouble on account of this couple and their elk. Bankers and politicians tell us that the people paying their mortgages will not countenance that sort of help for people in default. Well, guess what? That is not true. The couple I met were very concerned. They expressed great worry for home owners in debt. They wanted those people to be helped, to be given a time out, a break. There but for the grace of God was their view. If their neighbour was in danger of losing their home, then they wanted to see that family helped, not thrown to the wolves. “Why should we wish to penalise families who are in danger of losing their homes?” they asked wide eyed. “We would want to see them helped.”

I literally sat there with my mouth open. This couple were not unique. They do not want to see people’s lives ruined and their homes taken from them. I believe there are more caring and compassionate people like this in Ireland than those mythical vindictive people we are told about. It is a propaganda of the most damning to stop us as a society questioning the rights of the banks over the people. This couple are the future of Ireland; kind, compassionate, hard-working and caring. And do you know, they are not unique. They are quintessentially Irish. What is not Irish is this culture of hitting the vulnerable and making us all afraid to question how we run our country and how we live our lives. We are no longer under the yolk and we need to take back our autonomy from those who would protect their ivory towers and hide behind banking rhetoric and lies.

This budget is yet another example of the polarisation of our society. This blog is not about the budget – but there is no doubt that the rich are protected and the poor are affected. There were no cuts to the politicians’ salaries and pensions and indeed their expenses will rise with the vouched route. Turkeys voting for Christmas comes to mind.

Finally, (and a sneaky fourthly) I learnt from Maria Doyle Kennedy that singing is better than sex and chocolate. If you don’t believe me, watch it here