Readers of this blog may have already heard about Claiming Our Future’s idea to organise a widespread consultation process between now and 2016 to develop a “Declaration for a New Republic”.  If not you can find out more in the invitation below and on the Claiming our Future web site.

There are unique moments, inspired by history which offer possibilities and hope for radical transformation in the present and future. 2016 could be one such opportunity. It will be 100 years since the Easter Rising and the proclamation of the Irish Republic. It is also likely to be the year of the next General Election. We face major challenges and questions about what type of future Ireland is going to have? What values should shape Irish society in the coming decades?

As an initial step we are are inviting organisations, campaigns, communities and individuals to an open meeting on March 29th (10.30am-12.30pm, Liberty Hall) to explore what this might look like and how best to develop and promote such a Declaration. It would be great if some of you are able to participate on 29th and help us to develop and shape the idea and plan the best way forward.

For more information see event page.

 

The government is rapidly moving to ram through a serious cut to the national minimum wage. The proposed cut would slash €40 a week from the household budgets of tens of thousands of working families across Ireland — families that are already struggling to make ends meet. The government is attempting to ram the cut through obscure legal back channels, and the decision could be made as early as the end of this week.

Economists and basic common sense tell us there is no need for this cut — and even the IMF agrees! This is just one more attempt to force the most vulnerable people of Ireland to pay the price for greed and incompetence at the top. Enough is enough — it’s time to draw a line.

That’s why the Claiming Our Future community is launching an emergency petition to save the minimum wage. Our initial goal is to collect 5,000 signatures in 72 hours.  Your signature and comments will be sent to your TD and publicly presented to the Dáil by a delegation of minimum wage workers before the vote on the cuts. Please add your name right away here: www.claimingourfuture.ie

This is clearly a historic week, and the list of cherished services threatened by the government’s new budget is too long to count. In the midst of all the bad news and the European intervention, it would be easy to shake our heads and retreat. But we must not give up hope.

Claiming Our Future was founded on the belief that where the institutions have failed us, the people ourselves can succeed. Never was that idea more tested — or more needed — than today. We can’t reverse everything that’s happened all at once, but we can still fight for what’s right.

In difficult times, we know it’s right to support working families, not to pull the rug out from under them. The government knows the minimum wage cut is unnecessary and unrelated to the budget crisis, and that’s exactly why they’re trying to jam it through obscure legal back-channels.

They’re hoping we just won’t notice. So this emergency petition is our chance to show that the peope have noticed — and we have drawn our line.  Please add your name today at: www.claimingourfuture.ie

With hope,

The Claiming our Future team

P.S. After you’ve signed, please forward this note to any friends or family who you think would like to be involved. The more of us who speak up, the more powerful our voices become

Claiming our Future, a novel civil society “think in” took place at the RDS on Saturday October 30th, 2010   There was a tremendous buzz in the Industries Hall from 9 am that morning as 1,000 people arrived to take their places at one of the 100 roundtables set up in the hall.  Throughout the day each table debated the kind of values we want to underpin our society; the priority that should be accorded to a range of policy objectives and the sorts of initiatives and actions that could be taken to achieve the agreed objectives. Using a software package (which only caused a few hiccups on the day!) every table was able to exercise their votes, and all the votes were aggregated to come up with an overall, consensual result. For details on the deliberative process and the outcomes see the claimingourfuture.ie website.

The most innovative aspect of the proceedings was the emphasis of deliberative engagement.  Normally at a 1,000 people conference it is the keynote speakers that get the air time and the audience simply act as spectators with limited opportunity for questions.  Here, there were no keynote speakers or experts telling us how it is.  At each table we drew on each others views and expertise to arrive at an agreed view and feed it back to all the other tables.  At my table there were a couple of civil servants, a retired teacher and a serving teacher, a recently unemployed journalist, a Filipino  woman who is a domestic worker, and an arts/cultural worker. The various sessions were bookmarked by fantastic musical acts including Mary Coughlan,  the Miracle Makers rappers and the Gloria choir.  The day was creative and  invigorating.  It gave people the sense that there was a substantial constituency out there who shared their own disenchantment with the direction taken by the government during the past decade.  The event made it possible to really believe in a politics of hope over a politics of catastrophe. If you are interested in finding out more about Claiming Our Future or you have any ideas to contribute on how the country can be renewed click here.

Mary Corcoran