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The Future is Ours to Build

The Future is Ours to Build

By Alex Homitis

In 2010, a mockumentary called ‘Hardy Bucks’was released by a gang of lads based in Swinford, Co. Mayo. The show followed a group of people dealing with the consequences of the financial crisis that had been opened up on all Irish people. “We all partied” was the motto of the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and therefore we all must suffer. This is the same motto his predecessor and mentor, Charlie Haughey coined about ‘tightening up our pants’ when he unleashed ruthless austerity 25 years prior. This propaganda helped obfuscate the fact that we didn’t all party, but in fact a close collection of 200 individuals partied, to the tune of about 60 billion euro and were subsequently bailed out. The one person dragged through the courts was formally acquitted, and the circus began all over again.

Hardy Bucks was funny, but also extremely accurate in how it depicted the consequences of the crash. There were no jobs, no opportunities and nowhere to go. Hardy Bucks follows the characters and humorously covers their adventures of trying to get questionable part time jobs, trying to migrate, go on holiday and maintain their relationships.  The quirky characters and their adventures make you laugh, yet the story they tell is very serious.

Over 200,000 people left Ireland as a result of the recession in 2008 and of those, many were young people. Estimates suggested that 1/6th of all people born in the 1990s had left, never to return. This included many of my schoolmates and former work colleagues.  Why?  They left for the same reasons many school leavers and college graduates are going to start migrating again. Ireland, since accession to the EEC, has become a country where opportunities are lacking for the youth.  What is the point of finishing a masters degree and working in a non-union, precarious job and paying extortionate rent?    What is the point of coming fresh out of school, and straight into a brutal hospitality industry with back to back shifts and minimum wage and no chance to move out of home?    

Austerity creates a desperate trap of povertyand an inability to live a meaningful or proper life. No consistent and well-paid work, means no consistent and decent standard of living. Overpriced accommodation means you move far away from your family and friends, it also means that young parents move frequently, stripping their child's ability to build a social network much needed for their development. Where once stood well knit communities, stands a highly transient workforce and army of tenants -- moving wherever they have to.  Children are born into emergency accommodation and spend weeks, months and sometimes years in hotels. Children live out of direct provision centres and in some cases, eat at homeless street kitchens off pieces of cardboard.

We are still reeling from 2008, and now we are going to be hit once more, punished relentlessly and worked into early graves.  On the 20th May, 2020, KBC Bank revealed a survey it did among some of its customers that suggested that 86% of respondentssaid they expected austerity measures and cuts to public spending. 

Once more, another generation of young people will be thrown under the proverbial bus.  The response of the Connolly Youth Movement and my personal one is simple: FUCK THAT.  We will not be forced to pay up, when tax dodging parasites evade contributing and further tax breaks are offered to fee paying secondary schools, we will not oversee huge salaries and pensions to TD’s and Ministers who make it happen, we will not migrate, we will not accept the suicide of our friends and relatives, we will not accept cuts to frontline workers who powered on through the pandemic, we will NOT accept austerity.

Austerity, wherever it has been introduced, has always served one purpose. This purpose is the transfer of economic agency and services of the class that works and produces all wealth in society, over into the huge pockets of the class that does not work and lives off our blood, sweat and tears. Austerity is a weapon, wielded by what Connolly called a “committee of the rich to manage the affairs of the rich” to break up communities and rob us of opportunities.  

The Connolly Youth Movement has been working exhaustively to rebuild our organisation across the island. Cork, Derry, Waterford, Limerick, Dublin, Galway, Belfast all now have branches and a presence of the Connolly Youth Movement.  The organisation in turn, reaches out to young people and builds bridges with them, patiently explaining how capitalism works and how it can be challenged. Through unions and community organising -- we stand a very real fighting chance and that’s the honest and straightforward pitch we have been making to our peers. More than that, we desire to finish the revolution that the 1916 Rising began, we want a Workers Republic that truly does ‘cherish all children of the nation equally’ and places our material needs, our psychological and emotional needs above the needs of private capital.

We believe that if we continue to honestly and patiently engage with our peers, our organisation will continue to expand and to grow. Through this growth, we intend to lay out a challenge to austerity and those who introduce it. Our strategy is straightforward:

  • Organise on collective issues that impact our communities and workplaces

  • Identify and tackle the TD’s, Ministers and politicians who bring in austerity 

  • Target their offices, homes and meetings for disruption and challenge

  • Drive austerity politicians out of our communities 

We will not participate nor play in civil debate clubs, we will not respect those who kill us and murder our communities --- we will make them fear us, we will make them fear our communities and we will make them think twice about attacking our communities and our services. If they want to introduce austerity, they can start with the tax exiles, tax evading companies and the much more significant funds being redirected to white collar criminals. 

Our mentality is simple in this simple, if we fight, we at least have a chance at winning, if we don’t fight at all, then we have already surrendered.

Alex Homitis is the General Secretary of the Connolly Youth Movement.

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