From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and US President Donald Trump in the White House Washington last March; Ciaran Tierney

It has been amazing to hear so many people in Ireland express regret that President Trump has postponed (or cancelled) his Irish visit this coming November.

They were so fired up that many said they were looking forward to joining a political protest for the first time.

Irish protesters had to reach out to their counterparts in the UK, who turned out in their thousands to make the President feel so unwelcome when he visited London back in July.

Sorry, they said, we won’t need to ship the giant orange “baby blimp” to Ireland after all!

People in Dublin were really looking forward to the sight of a giant baby Donald in a nappy floating across the skyline.

And a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign had already covered the cost of bringing over the six metre high blimp within days of being set up.

Everyone, it seemed, wanted to be part of mass protests against the US President. The sense of anti-climax was palpable as soon as the White House announced that he had postponed his travel plans.

The leaders of two opposition parties, Labour and the Greens, had come  together to announce plans for a joint rally for “democracy, decency, and international solidarity” in Dublin.

As though such concepts, so alien to Mr Trump, were plentiful across the political spectrum here in Ireland.

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin went as far as to say that President Trump was “no friend of democracy or human rights”.

Mr Howlin said it was important to stand up to Trump on issues such as climate change, the treatment of migrant and asylum-seekers, spending on arms, and the slashing of aid budgets.

In Galway, the local anti-racism group wanted hundreds of people to gather to spell out the words “Feck off Trump” (with a little Irish humour, from the ‘Father Ted’ TV series) on a beach.

In much different times, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy addressed 50,000 people in Eyre Square and the city authorities renamed it as Kennedy Park in his honour.

We are unlikely to see a ‘Trump Park’ in Galway any time in this millennium.

So many people are disappointed that the street protests are off. They wanted to convey a firm message that Trump’s policies have no place in a modern, prosperous, outward-looking Ireland.

They want to reject the anti-immigrant rhetoric on an island where emigration provided the only refuge for the afflicted through much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The street protests are off . . . as though there was nothing to protest about closer to home.

The economy might be in recovery, but the recovery does not seem to have reached so many Irish people who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

Last week, masked thugs – protected by masked Gardai – used heavy-handed tactics to evict homelessness campaigners from an empty building in Dublin.

The sight of masked policemen with no identification on their uniforms caused consternation at a time when there are almost 10,000 people living in emergency accommodation across Ireland.

And now our Minister for Justice says he would support moves to criminalise the photographing of Gardai as they carry out their duties.

Such a move would be an attack on press freedom and should lead to questions as to what the Gardai have to hide.

Would that mean banning photos of public events such as GAA games or the annual Macnas Parade?

The last time I checked such measures were only being considered in states such as Israel, where an oppressive occupation force has a vested interest in covering up its crimes in the West Bank.

Given recent Irish history, we don’t have to cross the Atlantic in search of police forces who abuse their power. In fact the filming of protests has helped to prevent injustice from occurring.

So, instead of worrying about Trump, perhaps we should be looking at how power is being abused much closer to home.

Last month, a photo of homeless children sleeping in a Garda Station went viral. The youngsters had to sleep on hard chairs in the police station because there was nowhere else for them to go.

The distraught mother who took that photo could soon be guilty of a crime.

Last week, a photo of a sick and distressed 92-year old woman sitting on a chair in a public hospital Emergency Department went viral.

Gladys Cummins posted the photo on Facebook out of frustration and despair. Her mother did not even have a trolley, as she spent 25 hours sitting on that chair.

Two months ago, I saw a 93-year old family member spent 48 hours on a trolley in the ED Department in Galway. The unacceptable has become acceptable and lengthy waiting lists in our public hospitals have become the new norm.

In a supposedly “socialised” health service – compared to the US at any rate – the old and the weak are being forced to spend days lying in corridors in overcrowded facilities.

But Irish people are not taking to the streets to protest about our health crisis.

In June, Irish people became outraged by the images of child migrants on the US-Mexico border crying in distress after being separated from their families. They were outraged by Trump.

Yet few of them have much awareness of the hardships endured by those who spend up to seven or eight years in Ireland’s own Direct Provision system.

About 5,000 asylum-seekers are detained at 31 accommodation centres without permission to work, or even to cook for their children. Among them are 2,000 children, growing up in highly inappropriate shared spaces with adults from a variety of countries.

Direct Provision centres have been described as the Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes of our times. Some even see them as a “time bomb” for future problems to come.

We have British politicians steamrolling headlong towards Brexit, with little or no awareness that their dangerous language is threatening the peace process which transformed life in Northern Ireland over the past 20 years.

We have the families of victims of loyalist collusion who are shocked that a former member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary is now at the helm of the Irish Gardai.

They believe he has questions to ask about their long search for justice for atrocities such as the Miami Showband Massacre and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

We rant against Trump for his sexism, at a time when Irish society has been convulsed by a cervical smear test scandal in which the Irish Government treated Irish women appallingly this year.

A lot of Irish people are disappointed that they won’t get a chance to protest against President Trump, but let’s not pretend that we don’t have some pressing problems much closer to home.

Call Off The Blimp (Ciaran Tierney)

Top pic: MerrionStreet

21 thoughts on “Closer To Home

  1. Clampers Outside!

    Well said.

    Here’s a question for ya…. that goes someway to answering the apathy… imo

    Q. What’s the difference between a social justice activist, and a social justice warrior?

    A. An SJA sees steps and a wheel chair user and thinks… let’s build a ramp and make it accessible!

    An SJW sees steps and a wheel chair user and thinks… let’s berate, bully, chastise, intimidate and belittle able bodied people for their privilege of being able bodied. That’s it, then they go home all puffed up with self congratulatory smugness with nothing practical done…. like those “disappointed” in not seeing the tiny blimp over Dublin.

    1. realPolithicks

      Clampers your posts are becoming more nonsensical as time goes by, but if we use your own ridiculous descriptions for a moment I’m going to say that you fall into the “social justice warrior” category.

      1. millie st murderlark

        I’m with Cian on this one.

        Who’s for building a grotto to Our Blessef Lady? Quick someone, set up a gofundme page!

    1. Ollie Cromwell

      My impression as well.
      Basically it’s a bullet-point breakdown of the contents of The Guardian/Irish Times on any given day.
      Every flakey bet noire gets a parade through the streets for the Sandlista mob to break off from their skinny lattes to lob a tofu burger at them.

  2. Cian

    I just dunno:
    The sight of masked policemen with no identification on their uniforms caused consternation

    I saw pictures of the Gardaí and in any pictures where a shoulder was visible – they had their number on display.

    Was there any Garda without ID tags? Or is this just more FAKE NEWS

  3. Nigel

    ‘People in Dublin were really looking forward to the sight of a giant baby Donald in a nappy floating across the skyline.’

    Oh God no they weren’t.

    ‘A lot of Irish people are disappointed that they won’t get a chance to protest against President Trump, but let’s not pretend that we don’t have some pressing problems much closer to home.’

    This is like something a mediocre parish priest would earnestly preach for his sermon on Sunday. ‘We’re all quick to pray for money or for a new car or a win in the hurling final, but maybe there are other, more important things we should be praying for, like Jesus. Will none of you take a moment to pray for Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? That’s because you’re a bunch of lazy selfish articles, so you are. Lord graciously hear us.”

  4. broadbag

    “The distraught mother..could soon be guilty of a crime”
    She already was mate, do some research! I guess “the distraught criminal mother” doesn’t scan so good for the hand-wringing sermon.

  5. :-Joe

    I don’t agree, protesting is important because it reminds people that they can affect change when they mobilise and work together against the many failures of a any typical governemnt.

    Why would anyone want to protest against drumpf, though…? Ok, I can see why but it’s pointless and a waste of time…so don’t be daft, you should be protesting against ‘murica for allowing / engineering this to happen…

    A little reminder if you don’t mind… Who does drumpf takes his orders from, eh? :

    – Robert Mercer / Bannon(Fired but still involved under Mercer) and the billionaire club of corporations?….

    – Roger Stone – Politial spin strategist who engineered the campaign?….

    – The crazy, greedy, ignorant and mostly mentally retarded traitors and thieving members of what used to be called the GOP.. The republican party which props up the platform for this whole charade of dumb, fascist and extreme fundamentalism… otherwise known as drumpf’s base?……..

    – Vladimir Putin and the Russian Mafia in the US who have been stealing state funds and laundering the russian roubles through offshore property investments with people like drumpf who needed their financial backing and in his case, since he went bankrupt and lost access to borrowing power in the 1980’s?…..

    – Or is it all of the above.. and maybe a whole lot more?…….

    As bad as he is, Drumpf is mostly a distraction of the media and the mainstream of people are too dumb to overlook and ignore him to get to the real truth but a much better question to ask them(and let’s face it, ourselves too) would be….

    Why the hell are Irish people looking to the us, ‘murica for guidance all the time?

    The us is not even a democracy and it was never intended to be. Look it up, it was founded on the principle of protecting the wealthy minority from the lesser class majority who dont know what’s good for them apparently. Ring any bells in the past few decades?…
    – Look for James Madison and the foundation of the “representative republic” that we now call ‘murica.

    Irish people with half a braincell should look towards Iceland and Bolivia in the past decade if you want to see some real concept of working democracy to believe in and try to emulate. Hopefully one day ‘murica will become closer to being a democracy or even better than that too and join in with Ireland if we’ve had the sense to make use of our advantages and do it first.

    Nothing radical will change in Ireland until people stop voting with the 60%-ish sheep of the voting majority in this country who are deluded, coerced, misinformed and are repeatedly keeping everyone in a cycle of binary choice and a polemic illusion of progress with the lowest common denominator pseudo democracy of fg/ff and now neo-labour… We need more independants who represent real issues and are more accountable to real people.

    VOTE FOR LOCAL HONEST DECENT HARD WORKING INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES IF YOU WANT REAL CHANGE

    THE PARTY SYSTEM IS ALMOST DEAD, LOOK AROUND THE WEST, IT’S FAILING EVERYWHERE AND CRUMBLING INTO PIECES

    GREATER CONCENTRATIONS OF FACISM WILL FILL THE VACCUM OF THE FAILURE OF IDENTITY AND PERSONALITY PARTY POLITICS IF IT IS NOT QUICKLY REPLACED WITH A HEALTHY GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS REPRESENTING THE PUBLIC GOOD THOUGH BUILDING AND REINFORCING DEMOCRACY

    IRELAND NEEDS REAL LEADERSHIP TO DEAL WITH THIS PROBLEM AND THE EU AND THE WIDER WORLD AROUND US IN THE FUTURE.

    I’M NOT AFFILIATED OR PROMOTING ANY SPECIFIC POLITICAL CANDIDATE etc. etc.

    Anyway, as they say often in the us..

    HAVE A NCE DAY !

    :-J

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