Organising against cutbacks in Ballyfermot

On Monday evening March 12, up to 100 people, including a number of local éirigí members and supporters, attended a public meeting of the campaign in the Ballyfermot Civic Centre.

The crowd consisted of local residents, trade unionists and representatives of local community and voluntary services. A number of political parties were also in attendance, including éirígí, the United Left Alliance, the Workers Party, and Sinn Féin.

The meeting was opened by Gerry Mc Carthy of the Ballyfermot Youth Service, who spoke about the hard-fought for services in Ballyfermot that are now under the very real threat of closure.  Gerry also spoke of the great work that is carried out in the community, and the great sense of community spirit that still exists in Ballyfermot. He then introduced a short video called ‘Welcome to Ballyfermot’. The video was produced by the Ballyfermot Youth Service to highlight some of the great work carried out on a daily basis in our community.

Following the film, Gerry Ryle of the BCA chaired a short session of presentations that outlined the effect the cutbacks will have on our community over the coming months and years.

The first speaker was Dave Connolly from the Communities against Cuts campaign which is organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions(ICTU). Dave gave an excellent and detailed account of the cuts that are coming down the line, and exactly how they will effect the people of Ballyfermot.

Dave also spoke of his experiences organising in Ballyfermot in the 1970’s to resist similar attacks on the community. He recounted how at that time the community fightback was organised on a street by street basis with thousands of residents involved in the campaign led by the BCA.

In conclusion Dave outlined his opinion that organisation on a street-by-street, estate-by-estate basis like the campaign in the 1970s needs to be replicated today if the people of Ballyfermot are to be successful in overcoming attacks on our community.

The next speaker was Antonia Murphy who spoke on behalf of senior citizens in Ballyfermot and detailed the various attacks that have been inflicted on this section of our community.

Antonia explained that, despite promises before the election that the old age pension would be left alone, the Fine Gael/Labour coalition have attacked it indirectly. This has significantly reduced the only income of many senior citizens in Ballyfermot. This has lead to an all too common occurrence of local senior citizens having to decided whether to heat their home or feed themselves.

Antonia also touched on the disastrous decision to privatise Dublin’s waste management system, and the outrageous behaviour of Greyhound Recovery and Recycling.

The final speaker was Eileen Flynn, chairperson of the Ballyfermot Travellers Action Project (BTAP). Eileen spoke about how local community projects and services are of great importance to the local travelling community, and about how these services have helped to form strong links between the local settled and travelling communities. Eileen spoke about some of the issues effecting the local travelling community including the redevelopment of Labre Park, the on going battle to ensure each family in Labre Park has access to clean running water,  to hot water and to suitable houses for any traveller families who wants to avail of them. Eileen also highlighted the hardships faced by young travellers in the education system and the low numbers of travellers who stay in education up to third level.

Following the presentations the meeting was opened to the floor for questions, comments and suggestions. It was clear from this section of the meeting that there was a real desire to organise in defence of the local community and that the people of Ballyfermot were up for the fight!

A committee to coordinate the campaign has now been put together.

Local éirigí city councillor Louise Minihan said, “Tonight’s meeting is a great initiative. There was a great turn out and I would like to commend the BCA for organising this event and providing leadership in the Ballyfermot community.

“Ballyfermot has come under constant attack over the last number of years as a part of what can only be described as open class war being waged by the Dublin Government. Now is the time for people to come together, organise, and stand up for our community. The people of Ballyfermot are not going to take attacks on our community lying down.

“The political establishment is attempting to undermine, and ultimately drive down the conditions of the working class. Now is the time for a united campaign against the cutbacks being inflicted on our community. This campaign must be built on a street by street basis, to ensure mass participation in the fightback.

“Tonights meeting has been a great beginning to that work. éirígí for our part are committed to working with the community in the coming weeks and months to build a successful campaign against cutbacks in Ballyfermot.”

Thanks to Daithi O R for drawing my attention to this article which first appeared at: http://eirigiballyfermot.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/ballyfermot-gets-organised.html; the version here is a very slightly edited version of the original.

 

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Posted on March 23, 2012, in éirígí, Economy and workers' resistance, Irish politics today, Public events - Ireland, twenty-six counties. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Organising against cutbacks in Ballyfermot.

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