Sinister Fringe? They Wish



Protesters in Donaghmede, Dublin yesterday (top) Dr Rory Hearne, a lecturer in political and economic geography at National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Dr Rory Hearne spoke to Keelin Shanley on Today With Sean O’Rourke this morning about the protests that have taken place since the Fine Gael and Labour coalition were elected into Government in February 2011.

Keelin Shanley: “Rory, how do you explain the way in which the protests have grown and, you know, the apparent lack of understanding from the Government and the establishment of what’s driving them?”

Dr Rory Hearne: “Well, I think that the protesters have emerged as a result of a cumulative impact of austerity. And, you know, we can’t get away from this and, you know, Enda Kenny is right when he says, they’re [the protests] not about water. To a certain extent, they’re not because people are saying, you can hear there in the interviews with people who are protesting, they can’t take anymore. And I think it’s, the narrative that came out, when the Troika left was, ‘well, we’re now in recovery’ and, for the majority of people, they’re not seeing any recovery. And if we look at, you know, there’s structural problems within the Irish economy – things like low wages, housing crisis, mortgage arrears, child poverty, these have not gone away, they’re still there and they’re going to, the likelihood is they will get worse.
And, essentially, and I’ve been analysing this for a number of years now, there was this idea that the Irish people didn’t protest during the crisis and it’s not actually true. There was a number of protests that emerged after the Labour/Fine Gael government was elected in and that is significant. I think that was a significant moment. When Labour and Fine Gael were elected, on the promise of a democratic revolution and this idea that they were going to radically reform the State, that bondholders would be burned, that the recovery, and you know that it was the end of the way that politics was done, there was a sense that this was a new republic but they absolutely failed to do that.
And so people, in response to that started protesting. We’d a small group in Cork, called the Ballyhea Says No, who were protesting about the bondholder bailouts and the Anglo debt. There was the groups that protested against the sell-off of the forests who were actually successful in that, there was a lot of community groups and disadvantaged areas who have been, where their communities have been disproportionately affected by cuts. And there was a number of protests that were growing, and then of course we had the household charge campaign and we must remember that 50%, half the population, refused to pay that charge initially, that was a significant protest. And, obviously, that was defeated, when the Revenue Commissioners came in and I think it’s also interesting that when people comment about when, you know, what happened in Ireland during the austerity, why wasn’t there, you know, protests, and Lenihan went over to Europe and ministers in Europe were asking, ‘how are you doing all these adjustments and people aren’t protesting?’
And similarly, Enda Kenny was on the front of Time magazine, saying ‘I’ve got us through all this austerity, we’ve made vast adjustments and there hasn’t been protests’. And to a certain extent, I think people were holding back. They were holding back on the basis of shock, of collective guilt and a fear, and a sense of powerlessness and now that’s all changed. People feel now that they have a power to stop these water charges, that they can actually do it. And they also see that they’ve been through the worst, they can’t get any worse for most of these people. And there’s also an injustice, there is an injustice that’s lingering about the bailout of the banks and the role in which Ireland played in bailing out the European financial system and the fact that we were left with the highest cost, €64billion, of any other European country. And while the government tries to say that, ‘well that’s not significant’, well, it is for people. They feel the pain of it everyday and I think what’s happening is that you could describe this as a fracturing of the social contract of the Republic. The Republic was, since independence, was based on the idea of, you know, we’re all in it together, that there’s no real divisions – whereas that’s completely…”

Shanley: “That’s been broken at this point…”

Hearne: “That is broken and I think that we’re seeing the emergence of a new type of politics, of people feeling that they can’t rely on the political system, they have to take action themselves and with the water charges protests, you can see that they’re right – they’ve achieved more with these protests than electing a government.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: Are You In The Sinister Fringe

Rory Hearne

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)

36 thoughts on “Sinister Fringe? They Wish

  1. epson aculaser c100

    add social physiologist, whatever its called to his list of blind date mnbnanism sleeve wear,
    otherwise m8, spider away all night on the oul keyboard….I could never be arsed to change that light bulb
    in the attic with my opion

    1. jungleman

      Thought I recognised him from something. I think he’s been in Vin B a few times spouting nonsense.

    2. Rep

      He is a doctor though so would be completely unbiased. On another note, do the PBP intentionally make everyone look awful on their posters?

    3. W_Thomas

      That’s interesting. I suppose the issue there is whether he was presented as such in the interview. Whether he is right or wrong, it takes away from the credibility of his statement – namely that this is representative of a mass of public opinion rather than a fringe grouping – when he is part of that fringe grouping himself.

      1. W_Thomas

        Maybe so, but I wouldn’t consider anyone who has stood for election for People Before Profit to represent the middle ground.

  2. HappyDub

    and, you know, I wonder, you know, if BS you know, when transcribing you know, find it necessary you know, to print everyone’s you know, speech impediments… you know

      1. Gers

        Ah! and since when do you care about bias accusation? Not that I think you should, your site, your content. Back on topic, being from PBP or not, he makes a lot of sense (to me anyway)

      2. Alfred E. Neumann

        It is great work. Transcribing is a pain.

        I have never seen you criticised for tidying up a transcript, though, and it is standard practice to remove the ums and ahs.

  3. Nawfil Musty Bang A Frilly

    He’s a little dreamy I have to say.
    I’m having sinister thoughts about him.
    I wonder how he leans? Left, right, centre?

  4. YourNan

    half the the population already registered with IW, these lot do not represent the whole of Ireland, just that section of society that has never once contributed to society and are feeling quite peeved right now that for once in their lives have a bill not subsidised by the state or altogether wavered.

    1. ivan

      well if we’re going to play a game of crass generalisations, if half the people have registered, then that implies that, er, half haven’t and that’s a big fupping ‘fringe’. Of course, maybe the half of the population who haven’t signed up aren’t, actually, the wasters you imply them to be – just a boatload of ordinary folks who’ve had enough of the half arsed government we’ve got.

      1. Jennifer Mortell

        Ivan Thank you for your comment which is the first sensible one in a line of ridiculous off the point comments.

    2. JC

      not sure where the stats came from, but they are not true. In facts show us were you got your stats btw that would interesting.

    3. PaddyM

      I have “registered” (i.e. sent back their form)….

      …to inform them that I’m not actually a customer of theirs, not having a public water or sewage supply (and, no, they didn’t get my PPS number).

      Strangely enough, when the registration forms for the household charge were sent out, we were asked to indicate at the time whether or not we had a public water mains or sewage supply. In spite of that, everyone in my area (who have never had a public water supply) were sent out these forms. Do we count as having registered if we’ve replied in order to let them know that they can fupp off with their bills for a service they don’t provide?

      1. italia'90

        Paddy, you are now a registered customer of Irish Gravy.
        Your account information has all been set to default.
        True story.

    4. Mike

      I’ve registered… For free sexy time from your other half who’s desperately bored since you started posting lame generalisations on Internet comments sections

  5. Elrond Hubbard

    I remember when he was just Rory Hearne. Heaven help us if he’s ever made professor.

    Good points though.

    PS he left PBP years ago.

  6. SOMK

    “Well, I think that the protesters have emerged as a result of a cumulative impact of austerity.”

    I don’t know, I think austerity has certainly had an impact, but Ireland had austerity in the past too, most recently in the late 80’s and there was no reaction like this to it. At least I suspect the other factor in play in the long slow death of Catholicism as a force, Ireland as a state and Irishness as an identity was founded on Catholic principles, yet now Ireland is loosing religion faster than any other country on earth, the moral authority of the church and by extention the state and especially the government has been fundamentally eroded, it’s just it hasn’t been tested yet, when in 2011 FF collapsed FG was there to take its place.

    the that particular worm began to turn. And in the post-crash, well it was post-cash, you don’t get re-elected anywhere if you tank the economy like FF did. Now we’re supposedly post-austerity, the government are saying it’s all getting better, imagine how much easier it was to do that when you had the authority of the Chruch, the great Judeo-Christian skygod himself It used to be able to when all the national media was three newspaper editors, the head of RTÉ and the pulpit. It’s a bit different now.

    So yeah austerity is part of it, yeah people are pissed off because promises were broken, but there’s nothing new about that, nothing particular to Ireland about that analysis either.

    “They were holding back on the basis of shock, of collective guilt and a fear, and a sense of powerlessness and now that’s all changed.”

    No here’s why you had no protests, the unions were politically captured by social partnership, and outside of the big tent of vested rich interest which rule Ireland there were no leaders weren’t soaked in that culture. I think ascribing this kind of collective mentality is dodgy ground, fine for a politician they have to talk like that, but I’d expect a bit more in depth in analysis from a university lecturer. Again I think the whole post-Catholic thing is massive, even the terms he uses here “collective guilt and fear” if you were on Jeopardy and that came on the answer would “describe living in a Catholic theocracy in four words.”

    and Lastly

    “And there’s also an injustice, there is an injustice that’s lingering about the bailout of the banks and the role in which Ireland played in bailing out the European financial system and the fact that we were left with the highest cost, €64billion, of any other European country. ”

    The ‘cost’ was €42 billion, we did put €65 billion in (excluding NAMA), but some of that we’re supposed to get back.

    I know I’m being awfully nit picky about someone I’d probably mostly agree with, but you present someone as a doctor and expert you expect a bit more meat in the stew.

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