The end of the ‘most devious and the most cunning’ must see real change in Ireland

The People Before Profit Alliance welcome the announcement by an Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today to resign.

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In his speech Ahern spoke at length of his legacy and contributions to both prosperity and peace. However, his time in office has seen massive widening of the gap between rich and poor and a complete erosion of Irish neutrality.

Richard Boyd Barrett, People Before Profit Alliance Dun Laoghaire said: “The resignation of Bertie Ahern is long overdue. His tenure as Taoiseach is one where the fruits of unprecedented economic growth were lavished on the super-wealthy and big business while the gap between rich and poor grew and vital public services were run-down to the point of crisis. While we may never know the exact circumstances that saw Bertie Ahern receiving improper donations from business people and large amounts of money sloshing around in his bank accounts, it is difficult not to see a connection between these facts and policies that favoured developers and super-wealthy business people at every turn.”

People before Profit Alliance believe that Ahern’s true legacy is one of continuing corruption, increasing inequality and the end of Irish neutrality and that there is a need for real change. Despite talk of change within Fianna Fail post-Haughey, the scandals surrounding Ahern suggest more of the same.

Much has been made of Bertie Ahern role as a peacemaker. However, the Northern settlement was brought about due to massive popular mood and a change in strategy by Republicans. In fact, one of the most shameful legacies of Bertie Ahern’s period in office is the total destruction of Irish military neutrality in allowing a million US troops through Shannon airport to prosecute the criminal invasion of Iraq and his failure to exclude CIA torture flights from this country. Bertie Ahern leaves office with the blood of countless thousands of innocent Iraqi’s on his hands.

Ahern in his address today spoke of his pledge to “put people before politics”, however his actions, that of his party and his coalition partners have seen the politics of privatisation, profit and corruption put before the interest of ordinary people. The ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which Fianna Fail are actively promoting will see an increased drive towards militarisation, a destruction of public services and privatisation. It is intolerable that while working people died on trolleys of our country’s hospital that others, who shed crocodile tears and talk of hard times availed of ‘dig outs’ and awarded himself a massive pay hike. After years of boom Ireland still has one of the lowest on healthcare spending and one of the lowest hospital beds to population ratios in Europe .

Rory Hearne, People Before Profit Alliance, Dublin South East said, “We are already seeing the re-writing of the legacy of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, as was done with Charlie Haughey after his departure. It was announced at a major health rally on the weekend that 5000 people per year die because of our inadequate health services which Ahern, as Taoiseach and his party are responsible for. Ahern has stood over the worsening of workers conditions, an historic level of inequality between rich and poor and the destruction of our environment, in places like Tara. The government should now go to the country to see what the people want. Had the electorate known in May what has since transpired about Bertie Ahern, it is doubtful Fianna Fail would now be in power.”

Despite protestations of prosperity under his leadership, this country has also seen cuts in both the education and community sectors. Ireland ’s children still endure some of the largest class sizes in Europe , while respite services for the elderly and the disabled have seen cuts just this week.

Brid Smith, People Before Profit Alliance, Ballyfermot, said: “It’s a disgrace that Ahern talks up his ‘legacy’ and tries to wash his hands of the both the crisis in the health and the widening inequality in this country. This is at a time when essential funds are being diverted away from care for elderly. It’s a scandal that Ahern can accept ‘dig-outs’, use political donations for personal use, while at the same time the elderly in our communities who paid their share by working and paying tax all their lives are being asked to take 80% of their pension income to provide for their care”

Ahern’s resignation must not signal the end of the investigation into his affairs by the tribunal. Furthermore, it is time that the shady dealings of politicians, such as Ahern be dealt with and people be held truly accountable.

People Before Profit Alliance held an anti-corruption protest outside the Dail calling for Ahern’s resignation as far back as October 2006, when some of the most serious allegations began to emerge. A lot of people are turned off politicians because of the actions of many like Ahern. The Alliance feel that many politicians still look after the interests of big business and not ordinary people. The double-dealing golden circle at the top was and is still around.

Now is time for a real alternative- a real opposition. Not the opposition of so called ‘opposition parties’ in the Dail, who have at best been inconsistent and almost hesitant in their condemnation of Ahern’s dealings and on matters of crucial importance such as health, education and poverty, but one of people power.

Ailbhe Smyth, Co-convenor People Before Profit Alliance said: “The time has come for real change in Ireland. The health march in Dublin on Saturday last shows where real opposition lies and that is with the people. People Before Profit are for active support for grass-roots community and social movements to bring about real change in Ireland.”

ENDS

For further comment or details contact: Ailbhe Smyth 087 205 5433 www.people-before-profit.org

 

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