It’s hard to vote for a party that seem unwilling, or possibly afraid, to put their point across.
This was a week of rejections. Firstly, I wanted to work with a satirical cartoonist. No response. I messaged a man on Facebook that I met a few years ago that gave a speech on the history and control of the central banking cartel. I was hoping he would write an article about it. Again, no response. And then there were two bands I wanted to interview. Neither responded. These things happen when you’re looking to write stories. People are always busy. Plus, I didn’t really care as I had an interview lined up with a politician from a party I was hoping to meet for months. Or so I thought.
I have had an interest in this party for a while, since before they were actually party in fact. Ben Gilroy caught the eye in the way he stood up for people being evicted across the country. He was eloquent, knowledgeable and brave. There is an excellent clip, and subsequent interview, on YouTube where Ben challenges a representative of the local sheriff in Co. Laois in 2012. The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpUjl4LvQM8 for those of you willing to watch it. For those you that aren’t, I’ll give a brief description. A member of the Laois sheriff’s office is accompanied by the Gardai. He is serving an eviction. Initially, he claims to be the sheriff before admitting to being a representative. The man, he gives his name as Pat Dunne in the clip, is met with resistance by Ben Gilroy and members of various anti-eviction organisations.
There are a number of good points Mr. Gilroy brings up with Pat Dunne. I don’t really want to bore you too much with details, you’re better off watching the link, so I’ll just give a quick overview of the main points. Firstly, there is the issue of the eviction system. A county registrar may pass an eviction order on a property. It is then up to the sheriff to enforce the eviction. In every county, except Dublin and Cork, the registrar and the sheriff are the same person. So, the registrar is passing judgement on cases where he can later profit as the sheriff. The sheriff is paid by the Government but is actually a private company. An easy way make to make money for himself would be to pass as many eviction orders as possible.
Another important fact is the registrar only has jurisdiction over cases amounting to €36,000 or less. Anything over that is out of his hands. There is also the difference between commercial law and common law. The Gardai are only there to uphold the common law and not part of the actual eviction process. Their role is to stop any ugly incidents. The sheriff cannot forcibly enter the residence as it is protected under article 40, subsection 5 which states a man’s house inviolable accept on to law safe from trespass or assault. In other words, the commercial courts hold no sway over actual law. Ben Gilroy also brings up the bank bailouts and the fact the banks have already been given money, by the taxpayer, so the banks are being paid more than once for the same property. The gist of what Gilroy is saying is the law, in general, is fair. The unfairness comes from the interpretations from vested interests and the general populous’ ignorance of the law.
So who are Direct Democracy and what are they looking to achieve? Ben Gilroy, as already stated. He ran in the Meath East by-election in 2012. He stepped down as leader last year and was replaced by Jan van der Ven, who was “DDI’s MEP candidate for the South.” He has subsequently been replaced by Pat Greene. There is Anthony Connor who ran for the Drogheda district in the last Louth County Council elections. This is who I was supposed to interview. The party is trying to bring power back to the people. They believe the people should be allowed bring referenda forward to overrule any laws they don’t want. They are against the water charges, the bank bailouts and the abolishment of the Séanad to name just a few things they stand for. I wanted to go into more detail about all these issues during the interview.
A democracy Vs A republic
Something I have become more interested in is the idea of a republic as opposed to a democracy. These two are not the same. A republic is supposed to protect the rights of all its citizens. A full democracy, like what DDI are proposing, may harm the rights of minority groups, or as lexrex.com puts it, a democracy “opens the door to unlimited Tyranny-by-Majority.” The website also goes on to say; “These two forms of government: Democracy and Republic, are not only dissimilar but antithetical, reflecting the sharp contrast between (a) The Majority Unlimited, in a Democracy, lacking any legal safeguard of the rights of The Individual and The Minority, and (b) The Majority Limited, in a Republic under a written Constitution safeguarding the rights of The Individual and The Minority.” So, in short, it’s great having majority rule as long as you are part of that majority. For me, this was the biggest issue regarding DDI’s modus operandi leading up to the interview.
Since then though, it has become a bit different. Communication seems to be a big problem. Failing to turn up for an interview is one thing. Not even bothering to notify the interviewer is another matter entirely. None of the party’s members have been elected in the general, local or European elections as of yet and apart from Gilroy they usually poll very badly. Even their own website gives very little information on the candidates. Most of these aren’t very well known public figures. There seems to a reluctance to engage with the media. This is a pity. Most people are fed up with the Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour trinity. Questions still remain over Sinn Fein’s past. Those questions haven’t gone away you know. The people are crying out for real alternatives. They are still only a young party and things may take an upswing. Will they grab the initiative? From what I’ve seen, it looks highly unlikely.