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DiEM25 Ireland Launch: Towards a New Deal for Ireland and Europe with Yanis Varoufakis

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News item

Tuesday 25 Apr 2017

As a member of Diem25 advisory panel I’m very pleased to announce launch of Diem24Ireland on 27th and 28th May.

DiEM25 is a pan-European political movement that was started by Yanis Varoufakis, the former minister of finance of Greece, and it aims at democratising the European Union to prevent it from disintegrating (more information about its aims can be found in the manifesto).

DiEM25 Ireland Launch “Towards a Democratic, European Constitution”

May 27 & 28, 2017, Dublin

Confirmed Speakers:

Yanis Varoufakis – Founder of DiEM25, professor of economics

Nessa Childers – Independent Member of the European Parliament

Aidan Regan – Assistant professor of politics and international relations @UCD

Senator Alice Mary Higgins – Independent

Vincent Browne – Broadcaster

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Nessa Childers MEP – Speech – A New Deal for Ireland and Europe – Tivoli Theatre 27th May 2017

Thank you Yanis and thank you to the local Diem25 Dublin team for organising the weekend events. It’s good to share a platform with likeminded people who seek to define policies that join people and not divide. Who have one goal – to create a society that respects everyone’s abilities and needs.
In other words, the opposite to what has been going on across the EU over the past 10 years and more. That is also why I am a member of Diem25’s advisory panel.
This evening we are discussing a New Deal for Europe, and crucial to the framing of this new policy, I believe, will be the building of trust and hope among citizens and a belief that a democratic Europe is possible.
Because the banking crisis unmasked and showed the true face of the EU – through the so-called austerity solutions imposed on citizens.
The people who had these solutions forced upon them are now rightfully refusing to collude and pretend everything is all right.
It was in Ireland, Greece, and Cyprus that revealed that unmasking in its starkest form. Three governments were bullied into acting against the interests of their own people. And in some way, they allowed it.
We must never forget what this means. We must not become accepting of it.
This was not democracy. It is coercion and the abuse of power.
In Berlin, the conversation has begun on the establishment of a pan European political party and the question now I believe is how can DiEM to engage with the political structures. And today people in Dublin joined DiEM Ireland in a positive mood to discuss how we can bring about a democratic EU and democratic EU constitution.
Diem could be the beginning of something good. So what if we are accused of being utopian? But doing nothing is not an option.
But to do that it must reach the millions of citizens outside these walls. If we do not, those people will turn to others whose ideas have no connection to democracy. The very opposite of DiEM.
Very belatedly those in power in the institutions realise that the people will not comply and collude – that our democracy will be used to send a strong message to those in power. That voters will not be told what to do by media oligarchs.

People will make their voice heard in many ways. They will boycott the ballot box, support candidates who voice a socialist or equality agenda (must to the disgust of the establishment) or support far right nationalist movements who promise to dismantle the EU and offer what appear to many to be solutions to their fears.

Bringing about solutions and achieving change will be difficult because we are living in an era of post democracy. The old industrial giants are gone, and they needed to go, but they have been replaced by globalisation which has both transformed societies and undermined societies. Resulting in the complete lack of trust in institutions by the people and a lack of belief in the importance of the ballot box.

Another critical actor in this dismantling of democracy is that social inequality has been facilitated by a failure of European social democracy which identified too closely with the certainties of neo-liberalism. Meanwhile the right and centre right parties shared a simple goal, to protect and support the 1% and hopefully thereby becoming a member of that exclusive club.

Ideally a functioning democracy depends on people’s belief that their vote matters. That individuals are close to where the decisions are made. That they are in a direct relationship with the outcome of their vote.

A functioning democracy depends on an energised and engaged populus – this is how we get progressive change. But globalisation has alienated people who cluster in small groups, trusting only their immediate community.

We now know that when people are provided with hope and an inclusive politics they are energised. We have seen this energy in the support for Sanders in the US, Corbyn in the UK and the various left grassroots movements in Europe – and the grassroots campaigns against the next generation trade deals TTIP and CETA for example.

In Ireland, radical and left wing politicians were elected in the last General election. In the European election in 2014 – we saw anti-establishment non-party and left wing candidates returned in near equal numbers to centre right candidates.

But people can be mobilised by the right too. We are in a very dangerous space in many European countries. With an even more entrenched political landscape, of nationalism and anti-immigration. Consolidating and seducing people with a promise of a return to a industrialised world with fixed employment and communities.

How do we succeed in reversing the alienation caused by austerity and the dismantling of social protections enjoyed in the West post WWII?

I think by firstly finding a common language and a centre ground. This does not mean ‘centralism’ but agreeing a common set of policies, and setting aside our differences! Communicating clearly and explaining how our policies can be realised and achieve change. Its finding a language that resonates and bypassing the old structures.

Change takes time, and reversing decades of neo-liberal policy will not occur without a backlash.

Also, we need to fully understand in this era of post democracy, people, and young people in particular will not easily surrender their independence – and that along with policy – we need structures that respect difference of opinion and difference of emphasis.

This will be the most difficult task of all.

Thank you.

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