President says invoke spirit of Proclamation against capitalism
By Bernard Purcell
Irish people should celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising and Easter Proclamation by saying goodbye to the unaccountable capitalism that is ruining Ireland, Europe and the rest of the word, President Michael D Higgins tells Irish World readers in a special Easter interview.
The President, speaking in Aras an Uachtarain, says that nationalism and mysticism was allowed dominate Irish politics at the expense of bread and butter social issues. The legacy of 1916, he says, was not about returning to a more equal Ireland because it was never equal.
He also says that the time has come to make Ireland more equal for women, who have paid a high price down the decades since the 1937 constitution tried to confine them to the home. Pointing to the first Dail in 1919, through to the 1922 Constitution and then the 1937 Constitution, he says “we were left with most of the equality issues (unresolved).” This he attributes, in part, to the deaths of Larkin, Connolly, and Pearse, whose own political consciousnesses were aligned by the 1913 lock-out in Dublin.
“It isn’t a case of recovering an equal Ireland, it’s a case of building consciousness for an equal Ireland,” says President Higgins. He spoke of encouraging people “to take the affirmative principles of the 1916 Proclamation and address them to the circumstances we find ourselves in now.
“Our world, as you and I speak in 2016, is a world that is becoming more unequal, it’s becoming more unequal globally, it’s becoming more unequal in Europe, and it’s becoming more unequal in our own State, very often.
“In the US, one of the great economies, I don’t think anyone doubts now that any gains in income in the last ten or fifteen years have accrued to the top five per cent of the population….there are 47 million people in the US without adequate health care,” he says.
That inequality is reflected in the EU and in Ireland: “We are being challenged by a kind of capitalism without democracy.
“You must free yourself from the restrictions and chains of a dying paradigm – extreme, unaccountable, undemocratic capitalism,” says the President.
The destructiveness of this ideology had been demonstrated in Ireland by the massive breach of trust perpetrated by the country’s trusted professions in Law, Banking and Business in recent years. These people signed off on accounts and deals that should never have happened and in doing so nearly ran Ireland’s economy into the ground and bankrupted it, he suggests.
“There’s a distinction between making sure you’re not caught and actually having an ethical vision of society,” the President tells the Irish World. He says the EU seems to be hell-bent on destroying its own values as well as destroying the goal of a social Europe. But he says that while he could not share Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s economics he has nothing but admiration for her brave and principled stance in accepting migrants fleeing war in Syria and the surrounding regions.