Thursday, September 15, 2016

They don't want you to wake up!

In my country, they don’t want you to wake up right now.

They don’t want you to ask why a single mother can be sent to jail for not paying her €160 TV licence while one of the biggest corporations in the world, Apple Inc, can get away with not paying over €13 billion in unpaid taxes.

Not only that, our Government is fighting for Apple's right not to pay tax which is owed to the very same Government – and is prepared to take on the European Commission to do so.

They don’t want you to ask why the hard-pressed Irish taxpayer was forced to take on 42% of Europe’s banking debt.                                                                
Burying Irish Water at a protest in Galway

When pressed about this gross injustice, our Government told us that we had to do it because the European authorities said so.

These are the same European authorities we are now fighting tooth and nail to make sure we don’t get the €13 billion-plus windfall.

They don’t want you to ask why we kept getting so many threatening letters, informing us that we had to pay for a new private company called Irish Water.

Most of us were very happy with the way in which our local authorities looked after our water needs.

And we hated the thought that a tiny elite of select individuals could make a "killing" from this precious resource in one of the wettest countries on the planet.

These letters, thankfully discontinued or suspended, kept piling up while the head of Irish Water was getting a nice €300,000 “golden handshake”.

And this at a time when there were such serious questions about the awarding of contracts to those who installed meters in housing estates across the country.

They don’t want you to question how up to a dozen Gardai could miraculously appear to “protect” the water meter installers in our estates.

This, at a time when we are told that Garda resources are stretched to the limit and there is “open warfare” among criminal gangs in Dublin.

They don’t want you to ask why so many greedy speculators were rescued, why bankers on massive bonuses never had to pay for their misdeeds, or why the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) was allowed to lose €223.5m of taxpayers’ money from the sale of its loans portfolio in Northern Ireland.

A water protester who tries to prevent a meter from being installed outside his home can be threatened with jail, but a NAMA executive who grossly undervalues property which was bought with the State’s money is only doing his job.

They don’t want you to ask why people who are scraping a living in unsecure jobs are forced to pay the deeply unpopular Universal Social Charge, while senior executives working on “our” behalf can seemingly make corrupt or secret payments to businessmen and politicians.

Nobody marched when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank came to Dublin to “bail us out” in 2010, or when the property tax was invented in order to pay off the debts incurred by the toxic banks.

They waited until the formation of Irish Water to take to the streets, not because it was the biggest issue the country faced but because they viewed a sickening quango as the final straw.

And then they were demonised.

They don’t want you to ask why there is a homelessness crisis and a surge in rental prices at a time when there are so many empty properties all across the State.

Or why a single mum living in a hotel for a year can be demonised by sections of the media, because she refuses to take up an offer of a rental home which has no long-term security for her and her daughter.

In my city this week, homelessness charity COPE reported a 23 per cent increase in the number of families who became homeless in Galway last year.

That’s 56 families, including 133 children, who had no place to call their own and had to rely on emergency accommodation in 2015.

Yet if people on the housing list are offered accommodation from a private landlord they can lose their place on the lengthy waiting list and find themselves homeless again in a year or two.

They don’t want you to ask why the corridors in A&E departments have been divided into lettered “zones” because it is now so normal for people to spend entire nights lying on trolleys in our public hospitals.

It’s easier to find your elderly relative if you have been told their trolley is in zone Z of the corridor.

And it’s pretty hard to kick up a fuss about the conditions in the Emergency Department if you are waiting for hours or even days for a bed in a ward.

They don’t want you to ask why millions of euros were spent on security in order to bring gas ashore in North Mayo, in a part of the world where oil and gas companies were shocked by the low tax rates imposed by the Irish Government.

Or to ask why “supertrawlers” trawl Irish coastal waters, while small fishermen on our off-shore islands find fishing limits so restrictive that they are better off leaving their boats at home in the harbours.

NAMA: the subject of a new Irish scandal
They don’t want you to ask why there are such “sweeteners” for multi-nationals while small local businesses can struggle to get off the ground.

Or why asylum seekers have to spend years living under the inhumane Direct Provision system in the country where the pain of forced exile should be more familiar than virtually anywhere else on earth.

Or why US military men can pass with impunity through a civilian airport, perhaps even renditioning prisoners illegally or carrying weapons of mass destruction, in a country which has been “neutral” for decades.

For 15 years now, Shannon Airport has played a key role in the global “War on Terror”, while the security firm which patrols my local University campus has had a presence in Israeli prisons for years.

G4S are due to pull out of Israel within the coming year, but their presence in so many countries across the world shows how “interconnected” we all are these days.

A lot of people I know are fed up with zero hours contracts, an inequitable tax system, the privatization of water, and the preferential treatment which bankers and businessmen seemed to receive in the wake of the economic crash.

Yet when people speak up about austerity, and attend a march, they are labelled as the “Sinister Fringe”.

Even though they realize that our entire society is built on injustice and inequality; and the system is rotten to the core.

Sometimes it seems as though the Government is running scared. And, yes, they don’t want us to wake up!

For journalism work, social media strategies, content writing, 'ghost' blogging, or public relations, contact Ciaran at

Find me on twitter, @ciarantierney


  1. I am sad that so many Irish Men and Irish Women have been lured by money and greed to do to the Irish Nation what they have done over the past number of years.
    Their children will surely have to change their names in order to avoid the shame of what these people have done.

  2. Wow Ciaran you wrote what many are thinking.

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  4. It looks pretty bad when you list it all! I think people are quite aware of all this though, thanks to journalists like yourself, and so the call to "wake up" is patronising and cliché. Mike Wallace is there in the Dáil, and Ming who shared your article, are asking these questions all day long. We could ask instead, what investment do we all have, in different ways, for maintaining the status quo? Why do we allow these things to happen knowing full well it's unjust? And with our limited power why vote in the same people?

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  6. What is needed is to get a revolution in thinking and action that puts people back in charge of their lives; not corrupt politicians and insidious corporations.Get back smaller communities and promotion of sustainability will give ownership back to people.

  7. Well Said - we are a basket case - with the few well healed protecting the Status Quo.............

  8. I don't know why it's surprising. Now we are just like our rich Yank cousins in Boston: big screen tvs and new cars along with constant anxiety and fear. Success eh? I always try to bear in mind that the majority voted in democratically the leaders who are fleecing them. It's beyond absurd. Thanks for your article.

  9. Born and raised in the U.S., I moved to Ireland in 2014. I can say, "I went to Ireland -- and I got a knife in the back!" (I have harrowing stories, and escaped from shabby treatment as was being dished out. There were also good people in Galway -- they went to the water protests with me.) I moved out of Ireland this summer, a few weeks ago.

    As long as Britain was doing BREXIT, I decided to do JEXIT -- John's exit from the European Union. I am now living and working in Ukraine.

    The things I learned in Ireland would curl your hair -- like this article, which rightly deserves the widest of all possible circulations.

    It can be said that I tried living there for 28 months and it didn't work out. While I will keep my Irish passport, I don't think that I will return unless it is upon the victory of a lawsuit. I have more than one case that I could file against more than one wrong doer.

    They concern standards of Western Civilization -- human rights and contract law -- both of which were freely violated by Irishmen with no hesitation nor flinching nor second thought. (And those are my larger cases. Never mind small cases of being ripped off by Aer Lingus and Europcar.)

    So to summarize my Irish experience, "been there, done that." Ireland now belongs in my rear view mirror.

  10. What a great piece of writing. Echoing the thoughts of many. Well said.