Pro Bono Publico – Tell us your story

A simple latin phrase. Generally, it refers to work undertaken, voluntarily, for the public good.

For our purposes, we’re setting out a space for storytelling. It too is undertaken, voluntarily, for our collective good.

Here we will explore what’s legal vs. equitable in Ireland today.

A wise mentor has suggested that while the recent movement to #Repealthe8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution might have simply prevailed, it was storytellers and the authenticity of their stories that gave rise to the landslide.

I didn’t matter whether the content was a fact-based, clinical observation by a doctor or heart-wrenching stories of personal tragedy, which in an earlier time, might never have been told.

No longer ashamed, women and men told us their painful, personal narratives. They shared their circumstances and we glimpsed decisions so tragic, so fraught and often, so lovingly made, that we responded to their authenticity. We came to understand the punishing burden of having to travel alone – far from, often loving, and supportive families.

And to have to return to a legacy of grief complicated by silence, guilt and shame.

In the telling, these stories spread and sowed the seeds of empathy. Effectively.

Exit polls would suggest that 50% of “Yes” voters do not support abortion on demand. They did not see it as an abortion referendum. They chose to vote for the right of self-determination.

Here in this column, we hope to engender that kind of empathy for our neighbours, friends and families suffering under similarly oppressive economic, legislative and regulatory conditions. People without access to the courts, legal advice or remedies when facing eviction, homelessness or having had egregious experiences of our health and social care systems.

Too many of us are faced with practices and policies which undermine our ability to provide for ourselves and our families.

These are not tales of woe. Look elsewhere for sagas of victimhood.

These stories are simply exemplary. They might all be punctuated with- “There but for the grace of the gods go I“.

And each is followed by a very specific call to action.

Because at the heart-wrenching core of each story is a simple truth.

It did not have to end this way. For the many, for the few and for the whole of the country.

An empathetic ear, a creative or nuanced approach by a bank manager, a housing executive, a taxing authority or a judge – all would have served to curb the number of homeless, the displaced, the many suffering mental and physical distress –  and ultimately the hundreds dead by suicide.

We welcome your feedback and submissions. Tell us your story via video, voice memo or the written word. Unedited or unpolished is fine.

Just don’t hold it in – we have nothing to be ashamed of. #DontGoItAlone

Send your posts, video links or audio files to info@eveearley.com

 




Bankers’ Self-Interest, 2 Households Homeless & Suicide

The Author will remain anonymous as this case is still in litigation. We share the story to encourage others who were similarly treated or misled by their banks – to come forward.

My story:

The “Bank” is now involved in trying to repossess my family home, along with my partner, his wife and children’s family home. And it looks like they will be successful.

We both have been left with no money at all. One of our employees committed suicide and both my business partner, a husband and father of five young children and myself, a single retiree, have had a decade from hell.

We were transparent in all our dealings with our bank manager (we have had at least eight of them). We were careful to give them prior knowledge of our plans, to provide them with expert reports on planning, development, finance, architectural and engineering strategies, and in every way, we were model customers.

The fact is that this bank decided to take over and sell our assets to save their own balance sheets and no court in Ireland seems able to help.

We never stood a chance. As one of our eight assigned managers said, “You have cracking properties”. Another said, “We’re not playing games”.

How could this be?

Most people who fell foul of the Irish banks could not pay their mortgage because they had lost their job in the recession, or for some other reason were prevented from making their monthly repayments.

Since the publication of the independent report on RBS which investigated the treatment of small and medium sized businesses, I have looked around the Irish banking scene, and it has become clear that the Irish banks followed along the lines laid down by RBS’s global restructuring scheme.

We fell into that category of customers severely injured by the banks.

We were the customer who had a good business, a family home, and whose assets were claimed by the bank, sold off either by receivers or the bank itself, and the money used to swell the bank’s own coffers.

Our bank followed exactly this plan.

In 2004 we had a hundred-year-old property rental business, part rent-controlled tenants, part commercial lettings. We had almost no borrowings and the business had €5 million in cash reserves. Today we have nothing.

Our bank, with whom the company had a long and satisfactory relationship until 2008, suggested two things to us.

First, that we should keep our cash on deposit with them, take out a mortgage for our respective homes, and expand our business for which they promised a very substantial loan.

Perhaps I am a fool, perhaps I am just too trusting. Myself and my business partner agreed. I’ve always lived at the same address in Dublin. My grandfather and my father lived there in a unit on the top floor. The rest of the property was let out. When my father died I bought the house over from the rest of my family. I mortgaged the property to our bank and just drew down what I needed to purchase their share. That would have left enough money to repair the property to allow the commercial letting of all but the top three rooms which is and was my home.

My partner and I concentrated on the business, and repaired and renewed various buildings, to make our property business more efficient and effective, and to increase the value of our assets.

We came up with a plan for a major development on one of our sites. We needed to buy some adjoining properties. We had talked about this to the bank over a period of years from 2004-2007. They had agreed to support us.

In fact, the development was their suggestion!

In conversation, they agreed to lend us €8 million to fund the purchases and the renovations and to develop the site so that it would be lettable.

When it came to look for the money, two things happened. The bank made us wait for more than a year and then came back with an alternative proposition; they would not lend us the €8 million, but a considerably lesser amount, about €7 million. Second, by telephone call a senior official of the bank told us that we would have to invest €1 million of our own money if we wanted the loan. We took the money, invested our own million euro with the bank and waited for the €7 million loan approval.

Now, the story gets a bit strange.

The bank transferred us into the specialist property group, which seems to be just like the RBS GRG, i.e. a group of valuable properites and other assets ripe for the banks taking. We were summoned to an important meeting at the bank. One manager told us that the meeting he would work with us, that we had such a good track record with the bank and so on.

But at the end of the meeting another manager said “we’re going to cancel the €7 million loan”. Shortly after which, the bank began to put serious pressure on us.

It told me to let out those parts of my home to commercial tenants. To do that I asked to draw down the balance of the mortgage to bring the lettings up to a current standard. I was and have still been refused.

We could not continue with this. As for developing the business development site, we had spent much of our cash, buying the properties, but the banks failure to provide the development money meant we couldn’t continue.

And it is from this I conclude that the bank deliberately brought about a situation which enabled them to take the company assets (17 properties) by appointing a receiver over the companies. To date this receiver has never notified us. We are the directors and sole shareholders of the results of the receivership.

We don’t know what was sold, when and for how much.

If there is anyone out there who has had the same or a similar experience, please let us know so that we can show a pattern and see what can be done.

Empowering Change here – you are welcome to share your story – or invite one of our colleagues to interview you about your similar circumstance – message your details in the box at your right.




Irish Mothers & Property Rights

Our guest contributor highlights the very different outcomes when it comes to the property rights of a married vs. an unmarried woman:

“Unmarried Irish Mothers Have No Rights”

Yvonne Walsh is an unmarried Irish mother.  Perhaps not a politically correct distinction to make in this 21st century Ireland of alleged equal status for all.  But no such basic property rights are enjoyed by these women.

Before the law, it seems nothing has changed.

Yvonne has been detained in Mountjoy prison for almost two months* based on a charge of contempt of court. She refused to abandon her family home with her twin girls based on a court order to vacate her home back in 2015.

Equal status does not exist for Irish unmarried mothers,

Yvonne’s rights were ignored by her ex-partners’ solicitor; he was required by law on the conveyancing of the family home to obtain Yvonne’s Consent, to guarantee Yvonne got independent advice, to insure Yvonne and her babies were protected, to register Yvonne’s name on the property. This practice has occurred for centuries across Ireland because solicitors ignore the rights of unmarried mothers.

Life happened, Yvonne and her partner broke-up, years later Yvonne found herself as a lay litigant in person before Judge Marie Baker desperately fighting to keep her family from homelessness. It is a home that had no mortgage, a property embroiled in her ex-partners commercial dealings.

Yvonne sits in prison because she is an unmarried mother in Ireland with no rights.

Contrast this with the outcome for the married Catriona Fitzpatrick

Also appearing before Ms. Justice Baker, she claimed she knew nothing of her husband’s financial dealings, she did not consent, and her informed consent was not obtained.

She is the wife of Sean ”Seanie” Fitzpatrick, former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, who, while acquitted of all charges of financial irregularities, had resigned in December 2008 under a cloud when details of secret loans he had taken out with Anglo were revealed. He was declared bankrupt in 2010.

Catriona Fitzpatrick prevailed. She walked away from the same courts with millions of euros in property and her husband’s Anglo Irish Bank pension retained. A pension funded by the Irish taxpayers.

Yvonne Walsh still languishes in prison.

 

*Jailed Friday, 4. May 2018.

Tom Darcy, Author, Waiting for the Sheriff; Co-founder Right2Homes

#YvonneWalsh  – for more information on hashtags currently in use on the subject – See Driving Excellence in Ireland, a Hashtag Primer




Why we tell these stories…

Because nothing changes until we cease to view our neighbours as them and we as us.

Take for example the aftermath of one hearing before the Orieachtas.

Padraic Kissane – the gently determined, brave and caring Financial Advisor who encouraged four of his tracker mortgage clients to step forward and testify before the Finance Committee.

This was critical – a watershed moment in Ireland. The tracker mortgage abuses were well known to members of the finance committee, to the bankers and to journalists – but it was not until we had four human faces and stories – that any thing was done.

In a quiet moment, that afternoon, I witnessed a colleague ask him:

“But how did the banks think they would get away with it?”

His response:

“They used our Irishness against us.”

And for nearly a decade it worked. And to some degree it is still working. They had counted on us to be too ashamed to come forward.

And beyond shame, we are ill-informed. While the rest of the world worries about “fake news” – here in Ireland, we suffer “no news”.

And a predisposition to “willfull blindness“.

The absence of a free and vigorous press undermines any hope for accountability from government.

We have few choices.

  • The state owned and operated RTE carries little to ‘out’ anything but historic wrongs (justice here requires a 30 year fermentation process). And we roll out coverage of long forgotten scandals every time we wish to distract from a current political embarrassment. Let’s roll out the long acknowledged adoption scandal to distract from disclosures tribunal, and let’s celebrate a reunion of Magdalene Laundry survivors to take some of the heat off the Cervical Check scandal. Any wonder we have a well used hashtag in Ireland – #NoCountryforWomen
  • The (not very) Independent News & Media PLC has an editorial policy of having it’s reporters “get with the programme”. Theirs. Summed up simply – if it’s good for big business report it. If it’s troublesome to our friends and allies – don’t.
  • Everything you need to know about a free and fair press can be found in the unapologetic way both the Taosieah and the press embraced the idea of a “strategic communications office”. And there is precedent. It’s best illustrated by a headline: The deValera Divine Right to Rule the Irish Press

And lest you think this reflects the work of conspiracy theorists, a well organised group of bankers, academics, lawyers, and professionals worked together for 4 years – coming together with a piece of legislation to be introduced in 2017 when the Dail came back into session.

In an effort to garner attention and support for the bill – over 200 press releases went out in the late spring.  Individual reporters and PR professionals received it well and wrote plenty of copy. None of which got past the editors desk for publication.

Undaunted – they had their press conference – in Ireland’s – 33rd County. Irish Central covered the launch of the bill at the famine memorial in Manhattan. Given that…

..it caters to 34 million Irish Americans and 70 million Irish diaspora and receives 3.5 million unique visitors per month.  It has a large and quickly growing social media following, including 500k Facebook followers, 33k Twitter followers, and 13k followers on Instagram.  The website also enjoys a newsletter subscriber base of 250k.

The Irish press finally picked it up.

Church and State have colluded to maintain power by silencing citizens. And it works. Shame has kept us collectively quiet and accepting of the unacceptable. We have been afraid to rise up and take charge.

So here are some of the unreported stories I’ve experienced alongside beleaguered friends and colleagues:

  • Litigant told by judge – I paraphrase – “You are right, this falls into the spirit of the law – but since the law is so poorly written I cannot rule in your favour”
  • Banks claim to be negotiating – I know 2 cases where new property valuations come in- at let’s say €500k. Owner offers it. Offer rejected.
    Keep in mind, no matter the original debt – all the bank or #vulture it is to be sold on to – will get for it is “market value”. To make the sale of tranches to #vulturefunds attractive – these properties need to be included – there are too few good faith negotiations.
  • Owner scraping by, has two properties, one mortgage. Wants to sell one – can’t afford the tax for the “on paper” capital gain. Worse – one, a Dublin property would be an excellent first home- but can’t come to market because it’s rental income secures the debt – she wouldn’t have on the second property if one could sell the first and pay it down.

These are just three of the stories people are afraid to tell – and to what end would one stand up and be counted?

The press doesn’t cover them anyway. And look what happened to Jonathan Sugarman and Maurice McCable. Stand up speak out and they’ll besmirch your reputation – or worse. This is no country for truth-tellers or whistleblowers.

People paying €600-€1500 a month in good faith – agreed amounts on account of their distressed loans – are typical of the ones whose loans are now being sold. These are not deadbeats vacationing in Spain – as we’ve been led to believe.

I highly recommend Margaret Heffernan’s TED talks on Wilful Blindness and her closing from the second –

Dare to Disagree

The fact is that most of the biggest catastrophes that we’ve witnessed rarely come from information that is secret or hidden.
It comes from information that is freely available and out there, but that we are willfully blind to, because we can’t handle, don’t want to handle, the conflict that it provokes.
But when we dare to break that silence, or when we dare to see, and we create conflict, we enable ourselves and the people around us to do our very best thinking.
Open information is fantastic, open networks are essential.
But the truth won’t set us free until we develop the skills and the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it.
Openness isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.

Please – find your voice, tell your story and be willing to listen to and engage with your neighbours – whose stories need to heard and understood.

We welcome your feedback and submissions. Relevant academic articles and examples of best practice elsewhere are of particular interest.

Tell us your story via video, voice memo or the written word. Unedited or unpolished is fine. Send your copy, video links or audio files to info@eveearley.com.

 

 




Driving Excellence in Ireland, a #Hashtag Primer

If you’re new to following current events in Ireland – this is for you.

Ireland in 2018 is a very hard place to be.

Correction. Ireland until late 2017 was a very hard place to be. Thanks in large measure to #Housing & #Homeless activists as well as #Together4Yes and #Repealthe8th campaigners, things started to change in late 2017.

Now, at least, there is hope.

My February post, On Social Change in Ireland, “we’ll get there…” reflects that shift. And some of the challenges.

On arriving in 2008, “You can’t say that!” was a near constant refrain when I’d reflect back the insanity of life here. A New York reared blow-in, I was identified in my earliest days as “that cheeky American woman”.

After a lifetime recovering from a shaming and silencing childhood (just like most here), I wasn’t buying the idea that the silent-secret-keeping was anything but toxic.

My attempt to address it in a 2012, TEDxBelfastWomen talk met with mixed reviews; novel then, the message seems to be hitting home now.

So, I’ve been cheeky. I’ve found cheeky Irish people. And together we’ve helped to inspire many who were contemplating cheekiness – to get over their reluctance. Our message is simple: #GoForIt (or #JFDI if you’re not easily offended).

If you’ve found your way to us lately, perhaps it was by way of one of these-

  • #YvonneWalsh – A mother of two jailed for refusing to leave her home which would render her children homeless.
  • #VultureFunds – The world has it’s share of problems with them, but our government invited them in and gave them a tax free and virtually unregulated status. #MichaelNoonan
  • #Homelessness The current tally is over 10,000 homeless with over 4000 of those children.
  • #Whistleblower It’s not safe to be a #Whistleblower in Ireland. Pretty much guaranteed you’ll be permanently unemployable, broke and ostracised.
  • #DisclosureTribunal is a current (#MauriceMcCabe) #Whistleblower investigation. Before him @WhistleIRL Nothing will come of it – it never does. Perhaps because any evidence obtained is inadmissible in court. It’s the way the powers that be remain untouchable.
  • #TrackerScandal– Originally 5000, then 33,000 now nearly 40,000 deliberate bank overcharges. The highlight of which was that no one believed it until #PadraicKissane had 5 clients appear before the Dail Banking and Finance Committee. “How did the banks think they’d get away with it?” he was asked. “They used our Irishness against us”. Meaning – they counted on our shame to keep us silent.
  • #Nama – The National Asset Management Agency – great idea in theory.
  • #FF/#FG – Fianna Fail the party in power at the crash/Fine Gael the party in leadership since first in coalition with #Labour, currently in a confidence and supply agreement with #FF.
  • #CervicalCheck No news blackout here. The they tried. The #HSE didn’t advise women or their doctors of misread cervical smears. But news got out on the back of #VickyPhelan‘s lawsuit and subsequent testimony before #DailEirann. The scandal is described in this Irish Times article.

And a few we’d like to see take off –

  • #CherishedChildren – A reminder to many that in Ireland’s founding document, there lies a promise- “cherishing all the children of the nation equally”
  • #Transparency & #Accountability – A reminder that we must relentless demand it. Transparency International produced a report for Ireland in 2009 and updated it in 2012 – the measures they suggested have, to date, been ignored. Nevertheless – there is a SpeakUp.ie site and a on it a helpful video on how to “speak up safely”. #GoForIt – please.

#CalltoAction

Ireland moved from a Third World Country in the 50’s & 60’s – with 1/2 the economy dependent on remittances, to a First World country during the 70’s and 80’s – owed in large part to Diaspora investment. Philanthropists built universities, brought jobs and significantly impacted the business and civic culture.

We need that leadership now more than ever.

 

We used to ask you to come home or send money.

Neither are required. Simply share your experience, your wisdom, and the optimism that seems to characterise the Irish when the leave here.

And if you’re here in Ireland – speak out.

  • Tell your stories.
  • We have nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Nothing changes until we do!

The #CherishedChildren of the Republic need homes, healthcare and stability.

#WereBetterThanThis

 

 

 

 




A Failure of Leadership – Ireland 2018

On Housing and Homelessness

Who is Yvonne Walsh and why does she matter? Think of her as the canary in the coal mine.

Thank you, Caroline Lennon-Nally

#YvonneWalsh, the poster child of everything that is wrong about home repossession in Ireland.

Yvonne’s efforts to engage with the government approved Vulture Funds, to protect her home and children, were undermined and short-circuited by a technicality. As a result, Yvonne has refused to back down on the charge of contempt; and her children can stay in their home as long as she’s kept in prison on the contempt charge.  Whilst the detail is complex, the situation is not. Under no circumstances should any woman, in this modern age, be sitting in prison on a contempt charge defending her home.

The National Housing Agency has no suitable options as is the case for thousands of other families defending their position.

This situation needs to be recognised and resolved by the Irish Government. Yvonne, innocent of crime, incarcerated and degraded, needs to be released from prison to rerurn home to her children.

This entire issue of forced homelessness for families and children needs a National solution and Yvonne needs our full and immediate support. Let us not forget that Yvonne is representing a vast number of women and mothers right across the social structure in Ireland.

The Irish Government has a number of solutions at their disposal. Yvonne must be released now.



On Social Change in Ireland, “We’ll get there…”

In 2012, I closed a TEDxBelfastWomen talk with “We’ll get there”.

In 2018, I find we may actually be ‘there’.

It referenced my call to throw off the adaptive behaviours common to many on this island – our silence, passivity, self deprecation and shaming ways, in order to take our place on a global stage.

In 2010, I co-founded a coworking space in Newry. The intention was to support the emergence of a more dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem outside of Dublin and Belfast, on the border. Our contention was that the “peace process” had gone as far as it could go. What was then and now required for Ireland is a “prosperity process”.

That required culture change. And for us to share a different vision of Ireland.

From my vantage point on Carlingford Lough and the border, both Northern Ireland and the Republic were, as C.S. Lewis depicted them, a magical, medial place. A space in-between and one where opportunity abounds.

Culture change is a tall order!

It has been a hard road. Yet, the interesting thing about having a vision, setting an intention – and even failing from time to time, is that when you fail – you fall forward in the direction of your dream.

So imagine my delight in 2016 – when the Centre for Cross Border Studies added this tag line to their Cross Border Social Innovation Conference – “Lagan to the Liffey”.

The Emerald Valley facility had by then closed – but “from the Lagan to the Liffey” – our carefully chosen turn of phrase was designed, where innovation was concerned, to render the border invisible – and it lived on. We’d  fallen forward.

This week, I had notice of an event in Belfast focused on telling Northern Ireland’s story. Two things were heartening. I self-describe as an evangelist for Northern Ireland – both economically and civically.

Economically in trying to drive home-grown innovation and inward investment by highlighting our opportunities and accomplishments. Civically in both America and the Republic of Ireland – in efforts to drive a change in both attitude and language.

We are nearly 20  years on from the peace process – but nonetheless, many in both places remain unreconciled to it.

Control, Alt, Delete: Resetting How We Tell Northern Ireland’s Story 
sounds remarkably like this 2015 blog post:
Ireland 2.0 – America, try ‘Ctrl, Alt, Delete’ .

The journalists on this panel will, undoubtedly, be less impatient than the tone taken with my American readers, out of touch with what Northern Ireland looks like 25, 50 & 100 years after their families emigrated.

My point in these illustrations is not “I told you so”. It is to encourage. I’ve not been alone in writing and repeating these sentiments, and it’s not been to win hearts and minds. It was to support people who clearly felt the same way. To let them know they were not alone. And in time, to make it safe for them to speak up.

Failing and falling forward was worth it!

Robert Reich, Berkley Professor and former Labor Secretary under President Clinton has opened a series of lectures to the public. The course is called, In Focus: How to Ignite Social Change.

This slide speaks to “The Three Elements” it takes to reach the tipping point at which social change happens. Thankfully, in Ireland we have reached that point!

In Northern Ireland with the collapse of the Stormont executive and no devolved government for over a year and in the Republic with an ineffective government, as evidenced by crisis after crisis in Health Care, Housing, Homelessness, and a scandal ridden An Garda Síochána, there is, undeniably, a –

  • Widening gap between ideal and reality
  • Broad public knowledge of that gap

And what of the third?

  • Widespread sense of efficacy  ability to narrow the gap

“Ah sure, you’ll never change it” was the language of hopelessness that had undermined us.

But the last decade has offered proof that citizens could achieve a sense of efficacy – 

The populist genie was out of the bottle. Activism could clearly drive change.

Inspired, in the summer of 2017, a group of activists sent out over 200 press releases, yet couldn’t get media coverage for a “National Housing Cooperative Bill” to be introduced on Dáil Éirann’s return in September.

Undaunted, they then held a press conference at the Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City – the proverbial “33rd county”. They were joined by Cornell University Law Professor Robert Hockett and got the attention of homeless and housing activists there, academics, politicians, philanthropists and investors. And won their hearts, as in true Irish fashion, when the formalities had passed, music ensued. Imagine visitors to the memorial serenaded with an impromptu rendition of “I’ll Tell My Ma When I Go Home.

The Irish Central – a digital newspaper with a reach of 3.5 million unique views a month covered the story, and the media in Ireland took note.

More and more stories began to surface here, “broad public knowledge” of “the gap between the ideal and real” led four brave individuals to join Financial Advisor Padraig Kissane in testimony before the Oireachtas Finance Committee – ultimately breaking the news of what is now estimated to be 33,000 tracker mortgage holders cheated by their banks.

When Mr. Kissane was asked how the banks got away with it for so long, he responded: “They used our Irishness against us.”

Clearly the banks were counting on our silence, passivity and shame. No longer.

Housing rights advocates and financial reformers are on the move. New legislation is to be introduced and the Oireachtas Finance Committee and it’s Chair TD John McGuinness are holding banks to account.  He and TD Pearse Doherty have called on Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe to support class action legislation because “the culture won’t change until the banks are prosecuted” – even though Ireland does not yet have a mechanism to bring one.

Watch this space!

Back to the subject of “getting there” –  my Irish-American father favoured an expression I am only now beginning to appreciate:

“We’ll get there, by degrees, the way an Irishman gets to heaven.”

Alongside wisdom I have always embraced:

Ours is not to complete the task, but neither may we desist from the labour.

For more on activism in Ireland, On Echoing Irish Voices Congruent with Irish Values

 




On Echoing Irish Voices Congruent with Irish Values…

My hope/wish/prayer for 2018 is that Ireland will be a safe place for a #Whistleblower and an increasingly unsafe place for politicians who take cover with “it’s what’s legal” vs. “it’s what is ethical, proactive and kind”.

A government that is far more congruent with Irish values.

To create that Ireland, we need to find our voices. We need to speak up, shout out and demand better leadership. Our silence serves only those who would lie to us, steal from us, and oppress. That individual and collective behaviour in law it is called ‘willful blindness’ and it is actionable.

Action requires embracing our entitlement to a ‘legitimate sense of outrage’. Or call it ‘righteous indignation’ over our leadership’s major failures and small slights.

Major failures among which are:

  1. closing rural Post Offices and locating a new Children’s Hospital in the centre of Dublin (a 5 hour drive from Donegal, 4 hrs from Kerry)
  2. ignoring a tri-city/county regional economic development approach to Cork/Limerick/Galway by continuing to drive Foreign Direct Investment primarily to Dublin
  3. failing to gear up for the additional housing required by post Brexit growth of financial service sector jobs relocating from London – creating more upward pressure on housing costs

…and only one of many small slights

  • a citizenry that accepts that it’s okay for taxpayer funded RTE to make you wait over 1 minute through advertising to hear an RTE Player broadcast of newsmakers interviewed on all the the above

The bold texts links to articles or videos of interest; for more information on the work of ordinary citizen activists –

Homelessness – @Right2Homes; Website; Founder, Brian J Reilly
Healthcare – @Bumbleance; Website; Founders, Mary & Tony Heffernan
Education – @IRLChangED; Website; Founder, Frank Milling
Corruption in Banking – @WhistleIrl; Website; Jonathan Sugarman
Legislative Oversight & Abuse of Powers – @ChangeisUptoYou; Website, Founder, Tom Darcy

For perspective and an insight into how things get so bad – and what we can change – I encourage you to consider –Willful Blindness – @M_Heffernan In her book and TED talk

Not one person here is in it for the glory! Most are reluctant activists, they have worked individually and collectively, doggedly determined, while cajoled, undermined, harassed and in some cases bankrupted, to speak up and give voice to others.

Pick a cause, focus and support their efforts. Each has made great strides, advanced new agendas and empowered change. Follow, engage and if it resonates, support their efforts. Or bring forward your own.

*David McWilliams’ testimony references findings published in his 2005 book The Pope’s Children.