Many grievances, many hopes
On Saturday last, 3 December 2011, the Spectacle of Defiance and Hope brought central Dublin to life with one of the most imaginative and colourful demonstrations ever witnessed in the city. Thousands of people of all ages from some of the most disadvantaged communities in Dublin and elsewhere came together to protest against the impact of spending cuts. Now in its second year, the Spectacle borrowed an idea from pre-revolutionary France by inviting community organisations to collate books documenting ordinary people’s grievances at what has happened during the recession and their hopes for the future. Below, some selections from the Books of Grievances and Hopes.
I see imbalances of power.
I see power being held by a minority to the detriment of the majority.
I see services being provided on a shoe-string budget (which are a life-line to those who use them).
I see long-term sustainable work being carried out, work which is never acknowledged or given the credence it deserves.
I see budgets being prioritised over people.
I see people being treated as numbers, not people.
I see fear – in communities, in workers, in being “the next to go”.
I see oppression.
I see managerialism.
I see bureaucracy.
I see an increasing void between social work and service users. I see a social work that has been used as a scapegoat.
I see a social work that cannot currently do “social work”.
It's harder for people with disabilities to access services now. Young adults with disabilities are being told there is no funding for personal assistants so they can have their independence and be able to participate fully in society. Children with disabilities are left without vital medical equipment and aids. They are left in wheelchairs that don't fit them, and are on waiting lists for essential surgeries, leading to increased pain and difficulty. Families of children with disabilities are told there is no money for adaptations for a house or accessible housing so that their child can get around in the house … Special needs assistants are cut back, leaving children in dangerous situations where they have no one to help them get through school and ensure that they can safely navigate the day. I know of a child who is literally being denied his voice, after his special needs assistant who helped with his communication device was taken away.
Living in a working class community I see the struggles, issues and circumstances families and young people face on a day to day occurrence. This happens and it’s real. People are paying the price for the government’s wrong doing. I myself struggle everyday in my own life and college as it is and now even more for something that I had no part to play in. They’re hitting the most vulnerable in our society and think that it is acceptable. They take a percentage of people’s benefits and hand out blocks of cheese to replace it. It is a joke! The community need to unite and stand tall together for change and our rights. If we don’t stand up, they will keep pulling us down.
I don’t have a 2nd home (or a 3rd or a 4th!), I don’t own my own home, I don’t have job security, I don’t have a pension, I haven’t been able to afford a family holiday for 2 years – not even to Wicklow! My debts are continuing to rise...my wages and social welfare continue to fall. I worry for my future…Our accommodation costs keep going up and bills keep coming in…
Like many others, I am paying for the elite to live a life of luxury!! Helicopters, holiday homes, boats, coke!! Debt forgivness
Every month we struggle to pay our mortgage. I have to work overtime so see less of my kids. My husband is out of work and I am tired telling my kids we can’t afford things. We did not ‘borrow’ this money, we did not gamble with people’s pensions, we did not inflate the property market, already my children owe money and they are not even out of primary school.
They’re hitting the most vulnerable in our society and think that it is acceptable. They take a percentage of people’s benefits and hand out blocks of cheese to replace it. It’s a joke. The community need to unite and stand tall together for change and our rights.
Children with disabilities are left without vital medical equipment and aids. They are left in wheelchairs that don’t fit them, leading to increased pain and difficulty.
Feeling of depression, hopelessness and fear
There are 444 Traveller families living on the roadside without running water or electricity. Nomadism is no longer recognised and Travellers are criminalised for Travelling. It really looks like they are trying to wipe us Travellers off the face of the earth
Don’t let us live with fear. Migrants might no longer afford to stay in Ireland because of the cuts and more taxes
The Spectacle urges the government to protect funding to the community and voluntary sector. We cannot sustain any more cuts without seriously damaging and tearing the hearts out of our communities. We demand you to STOP and to DEFEND, PROTECT and SUSTAIN youth, community and voluntary projects.
We hope for a better future for our children and for an Ireland that is more equal
We hope that our education system will be saved and the special needs teachers will be kept on board
We hope that the rich will be taxed according to their means and that they can share the burden
We see an uprising
We see a revolt
We see a reclaiming of power
We see mobilisation
We see the realisation in people that we are the powerful and they are the weak
Our hope is the Irish government will create an equal society for people - young and old, black and white, rich and poor. We all need to live in a decent world. We hope for a progressive equitable taxation system. The introduction of a wealth tax would be a start. We hope for a participatory democracy where all people have real decision-making power. Politics should work for all the people
The Spectacle of Defiance and Hope will continue to organise, mobilise and resist and to fight for a more equitable and just society
We hope to live in a more equal world. We want our schools and hospitals funding not our banks, we want to tax the rich and give to the less well off. We hope for an Ireland that treasures everyone equally.
I believe in ordinary people and their capacity to learn and grow and celebrate life. Let’s make that happen”
“I hope for the future that Ireland will be a fairer and more equal society with equal opportunity for all”
“this is an opportunity to grow in truth, solidarity, accountability, structured justice, tax justice, inclusiveness, care, hope, celebration. My hope is that we grow in solidarity at home, global south and north, learn to celebrate and share humanity and a sustainable future”
Images: Michael Gallagher (Grievances); Eadaoin O'Sullivan (Hopes).