Making all our Voices heard
Remarks by Fergus Finlay, CEO, Barnardos
At the Senior Citizens Parliament
Dublin, 17th April 2009
It was our former Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy, who famously urged us to party on as if there were no tomorrow. And for many years it seemed, despite all sorts of warning signs, that the party would never end. Well, I think we all have to accept that the party’s over, at least for now.
And the choice we now have to make is the same as the guests at any party where the hosts have encouraged over-indulgence. Do we give in to the hang-over, take to the bed and feel sorry for ourselves? Or do we decide that this is the time when we look after each other, and recover some of the things that we might have lost during the period when we were all being told that there was no need to worry about tomorrow?
If I could put that another way: we’re in a period of transition now. We need, all of us, to be heard in a demand that that transition be accomplished in a spirit of social justice and solidarity, and not by forcing the weakest and most vulnerable to carry the burden of adjustment. I believe we should be heard together.
I met a businessman about a year ago, who told me that the greatest tragedy would be if the only legacy of the celtic tiger was a very large fleet of second-hand luxury cars. It’s beginning to look that way, isn’t it? With jobs being lost at the rate of hundreds a day, factory closures no longer making the news unless they’re big ones, banks teetering on the brink of extinction, and the public finances apparently going to hell at a rate of knots, there is cause to be afraid.
But the celtic tiger always had two sides to it – a snarl as well as a smile. That’s because of the choices we made throughout that entire period.