Claiming our Future

  • SumoMe

10 am We’re meeting up, a thousand people from all over Ireland in the RDS Industry Hall. This is a space more familiar to me from the Horse Shows of my youth. On my table, we have, among others, a union secretary (who was my contemporary in TCD back in the ’70s) , a Jesuit community activist, a worker for older people’s rights, a youth worker, and an artist. The Twitter link is #cof3010

10:30 We’ve started by doing a values exercise. We were asked to select five values from a list provided, and to suggest one more. We picked Care, Equality, Environmental sustainability, Solidarity and Accountability. We added ‘public conversation’ to the list. All of these will be added up across all the tables, and the final choices put up.

1:05 Key values identified from the voting system were :-

  • Equality
  • Environment
  • Accountability
  • Participation
  • Solidarity

12:15 Now we’re listening to Mary Coughlan, (not the Tanaiste, the singer) doing ‘My Land is too Green‘, and the ‘Magdalene Laundry‘. It’s going down very well. She’s a great performer.

12:30 The elephant in the room – what we all refuse to see. The alternatives that are possible. Myths that society must be run for the markets. What are the policy alternatives? Policy choices based on this document. Looking for policy option that can be implemented over 5 years, that might be transformative, and can be popularized.

12:40 Working on Section 2a Economy and Environment. Our priorities are :-

  1. Change the current development model and define and measure
    progress in a balanced way that stresses economic security and social
    and environmental sustainability.
  2. Regulate banking to change the culture from one of speculative banking
    to one where currently state-owned banks and new local banking models
    focus on guaranteeing credit to local enterprises and communities.

1pm Working on Section 2b Income, Wealth and Work. We need to look widely at models from other countries, e.g. Iceland, other Scandinavian countries, Wales, Scotland. How can we achieve better income equality? Property tax reliefs, pension tax relief, are all possible targets. Is equality or jobs the priority? Both are important. Equality could start at the next budget, and there is a lot of evidence that increasing equality increases many other desirable features of society. following discussion, our priorities were:-

  1. Prioritise high levels of decent employment with a stimulus package to
    maximize job creation in a green/social economy.
  2. Achieve greater income equality and reduce poverty through wage, tax
    and income policies that support maximum and minimum income
    thresholds.

1:25 pm Lunch! Lots of choices outside in the grounds. A lovely day too.

2:30 Back from lunch – Votes from section 2a and 2b were
Economy and environment

  1. Change the current development model and define and measure
    progress in a balanced way that stresses economic security and social
    and environmental sustainability.
  2. Prioritise a legally binding national sustainable development strategy that
    caps resource use, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and implements
    measures to protect our life support systems.

Income, Wealth and Work

  1. Achieve greater income equality and reduce poverty through wage, tax
    and income policies that support maximum and minimum income
    thresholds.
  2. Prioritise high levels of decent employment with a stimulus package to
    maximize job creation in a green/social economy.

2:45 Working on Section 3a Governance – we felt that it was critical to “reform representative political institutions to enhance accountability, equality, capacity, and efficiency of national and local decision makers”. Without this little joy could be expected.

3:15 Section 3b Access to public services, and public sector renewal. We had a long discussion about importance, or otherwise, of fixing the public service – “Make efficiency, integration, and equality the goals of public service reform”. It was felt that specific service delivery policies should have priority. I’m not sure I agree.

4:10 Votes on Section 3a
Governance

  1. Reform representative political institutions to enhance accountability,
    equality, capacity, and efficiency of national and local decision makers.
  2. Develop participatory and deliberative forms of citizens’ engagement in
    public governance and enhance democratic participation by fostering the
    advocacy role of civil society organizations, civics and ethics education in
    all school levels and a diverse media.

4:10 Votes on Section 3b Access to Services and Public Sector Renewal
· Make efficiency, integration, and equality the goals of public service
reform.

  1. Provide universal access to quality healthcare, childcare and services for
    older people.
  2. Invest in equality in access to and participation in all levels of education
    (preschool to university).

3:30 Listening to a rap group – least said , soonest mended.

3:45 Feedback time – show of colored cards – green red and yellow. Do you want to work together? Result – a forest of green cards!

3:50 Ideas for action

  • Sustainable Ireland, following the natural steps program from Sweden
  • Singing revolution, use music to sing the protest, record and spread it widely.
  • Charter for Ireland, on the liens of Charter 77
  • Progressive think tank
  • Virtual network of people and resources

4:20 Shaz Oye singing for us. Great voice, solo singer, gospel style, also sings with guitar. Very lively, very strong voice, very moving. Finished with ‘Talking about a Revolution‘, which can come off a sad cliche, but worked well with her voice.

4:30 Wrap up – Set of values chosen. Policy options identified. Infrastructure set up, on-line local, regional and national. Actions will continue. Each of us has written a postcard, addressed to us, with a stated action to be done over the next month. These will be posted out to us in a month. Build ‘Claiming our future’ independent and self-reliant. Make today a turning point for Ireland.

4:45 – Gloria sing for us. A great way to wrap up the day.

5:00 We all go home.