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Who Represents Ballyfermot, the Government or the People?

12/10/12

Louise MinihanThe following article is a piece from éirígí's Ballyfermot representative, Councillor Louise Minihan, in response to claims made by a number of Government TDs that those who took part in a ‘Hands Off Our Children’s Allowance’ protest in the area on the 5th October are not representative of the people of Ballyfermot.

In recent days a number of Dublin South Central TDs have claimed that anti-austerity protesters are not representative of the people of Ballyfermot.

These same TDs, Fine Gael’s Catherine Byrne, and Eric Byrne and Michael Conaghan of Labour, claim to represent Ballyfermot, yet they have consistently voted against the interests of local residents by supporting ‘slash and burn’ cuts to our community. The three government TDs that represent Ballyfermot are strong supporters of:

  • The bank guarantee scheme which has seen Fine Gael and Labour hand over billions of taxpayer’s money to pay for the greed of the private banks
  • The austerity programme which has unleashed savage attacks on the people of Ballyfermot over the last number of years

All three government TDs have voted in support of successive austerity budgets – budgets that have slashed public and community services in Ballyfermot. Such attacks hit the most vulnerable in our community the hardest.

In recent years the Fine Gael/ Labour government have:

  • Cut funding to Cherry Orchard hospital
  • Cut funding to local drug addiction services
  • Cut funding to local youth services
  • Reduced our local bus service
  • Reduced the numbers of special needs assistants in our schools
  • Attempted to divide public and private sector workers
  • Cut the fuel allowance, while at the same time increasing energy prices, forcing many families to choose between heating and eating
  • Privatised the bin services leading to chaos and ultimately higher charges

Michael, Eric and Catherine, the so-called representatives of the Ballyfermot people have supported all of the above.

Labour and Fine Gael are currently attempting to impose unjust property and water taxes across this state. The high numbers of people that continue to boycott the ‘household charge’ austerity tax across the local area gives some indication of just how un-representative of the people of Ballyfermot the coalition have become.

Michael Conaghan, Eric Byrne and Catherine Byrne have a combined income (not including their allowances) of €278,016 per year. That’s a huge €92,672 each. These wages are paid by us, the taxpayers of this state. According to the CSO the average annual earnings for workers is 2012 is just €33,327 per year. The basic payment for somebody on the social welfare is just €188 a week. TDs receiving such huge amounts of taxpayers’ money in return for voting to cut our community and public services, cannot seriously claim to represent the people of Ballyfermot.

The anti-austerity protesters who forced Eamon Gilmore and Frances Fitzgerald to retreat from Ballyfermot, however, were and are representative of the anger of a proud community that feels betrayed by the professional political class. Those who protested in Ballyfermot last Friday (October 5) were mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers who decided to take a stand against the proposed cuts to Child Benefit and the years of cutbacks that have devastated our community.

Some of those at the protest were community and political activists who are daily faced with the human cost of the austerity measures that Michael, Catherine and Eric vote for from the comfort of Leinster House.

The Hands Off Our Children’s Allowance protest showed that the anger against austerity in Ballyfermot is palpable. That protest showed that so long as government Ministers continue to launch attacks on the working class, they are not welcome in our communities. Michael Conaghan, Catherine Byrne and Eric Byrne would do well to take note of such anger and stand up for our communities against austerity and cutbacks. It’s high time they decided to do the job we pay them to do – represent the people of Ballyfermot and Dublin South Central.

The upcoming budget is predicted to be one of the harshest on record. By taking to the streets our communities can take a stand and fight back. The upcoming budget will also provide Catherine, Michael and Eric the opportunity to show they have grown a backbone and are willing to stand with the people who voted them into power.

 

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