Since about 2007, with the failure of the Irish banking and financial sector, and the impact of the international credit crisis, the government of Ireland has followed various economic austerity policies with a view to rescuing the state from its present difficulties. In a nutshell these policies have sought to pay off the national debt and EU/IMF bailout package by raising the level of taxation and slashing public spending. It is important to realise that when the Irish state speaks of rescuing ‘the state’ it is talking only of that portion of the population with the financial means to be of value to the state in the future. The priority of the Irish moneyed and political elite is to protect the moneyed class. When the corruption of the banking sector of this country tore open a black hole in the national economy a bailout was negotiated with Europe and the International Monetary Fund to underwrite and thus protect the wealthy, and the process of austerity to pay back this debt has been engineered to continue to safeguard the interests of the moneyed class, and this has been achieved by taking more and more money from the already less-well-off and politically disenfranchised.
Ballymun, the community in which I volunteer, is an expansive area of north Dublin with a population of more than 22,000 people – including some of the most vulnerable families in the city. Until last week the government funded an area partnership which worked to foster job creation, improve adult education, and work towards better community development. This Ballymun and Whitehall Area Partnership has been the most recent victim of austerity in north Dublin. Now there will be a marked decrease in the support offered to people hoping to return to education and employment. With the recent closure of the supermarket in the shopping centre more people have been made unemployed and families on low incomes have been forced to spend more on necessities at a handful of smaller, more expensive, local convenience stores. Rather than introduce a higher band of tax for higher earners the government has inflicted everyone in the country with water charges; a tax which has been conceived of to take the widow’s mite. What is happening to this community is being replicated across the entire country with devastating effect, and the sole purpose of this strangulation is to ensure that those with the money (potential business leaders and investors) are protected. It is an absolute certainty that these vindictive governmental actions will haunt this country for generations.