I found this image. I dont know who made it.
Above ‘Who is the Watchdog’ title image is by me.
I am blogging about the water protest and Ballyhea Says No social media. This is really interesting stuff. Today this was reported on the main RTE news at the very end as last minute news, as if hardly worth a mention. Over half of Irish Water customers have not paid their bills. This is a significant amount of people who are not paying and is likely to be very less.
Here are newspaper and radio news pieces from 14th July newspapers announcing the news.
We knew what the low result uptake about Irish Water from the social media the night before. It has been embarrassment to the government and a sham and PR disaster from the beginning.
I am going to discuss and ask is this mass boycott of Irish water, been helped by successful online and social media influence. The Ballyhea Says No movement is another group, I am going to discuss as regards it’s use and impact of social media. What impact is social media having?
Both these protest movements have taken to on line media as a form of sharing the news and video clips, of what is happening on the streets as they happen. Both movements have been mainly ignored by the mainstream media.
I am aiming to explore both stories and put the ongoing stories as simply as I can. Then, more importantly, explore the digital media influence. I hope to come to my own articulate conclusions through my research and also apply a theoretical framework to present the stories in an interesting way.
Let’s talk briefly about it’s beginnings.
The Government has embarked upon establishing a new public utility, Irish Water. It would be an independent subsidiary of Bord Gáis, to take over the responsibility for the delivery of water services from local authorities. Water charges have been introduced for domestic users based on usage. A metering programme has been rolled out.
The campaign for Irish Water would like to be seen as fair, open and honest. However this has not been the case. It has stumbled form one crisis to another and alienated it’s public.
Irish Water as part of the EU-IMF bailout agreement, commenced January 2014, when its chief executive admitted that it had already spent €50m on consultants.
There’s the €180m spent establishing the company, much of which went on consultants.
This was followed by a controversy involving the organisation’s collection of PPS numbers and outrage over a proposed bonus scheme structure for its employees.
Also, no one was clear exactly how much they would have to pay.
Deadlines have been continually moved.
There are suspicions it will eventually be fully privatised, although this government has vowed that will “never” happen and that it would necessitate a referendum. See (brief explain) https://medium.com/@beyourownreason/nprf-isif-newera-ntma-4c52f09c7ff6
Free allowances of water for children was supposed to be 38,000 litres a year, but ended up at almost half that – 21,000 litres.
There is also dis-satisfaction as regards the collection of rainwater, which will require a written permission from Irish Water.
Here is a comprehensive timeline on Irish Water.
It is an austerity, troika charge. It is the commodification of a public good. It is already paid for through progressive tax. There are very fears for of it’s Privatisation agenda.
Irish Water has become a tangible symbol of austerity and it’s imminent demise is a testament to what it’s possible to achieve through cohesive & determined opposition, but it’s just a symptom of the disease that is the IMF.
This brings on on to the other movement I am going to discuss.
From my research what I can gather is pre 2008, Ireland was doing well and in a good position financially with a lot of money (67Million euro) in the pension reserve fund. The source of our problem was all the money that flooded into Ireland from core countries in the E.U such as Germany, France. Private banks in Ireland began borrowing hundreds of millions of euro from these core private banks. No due diligence was applied and the responsibility of that lies with the lender. The Ballhea Says No , are a group against this debt to private bankers. They have been protesting every week for 5 years now and it is spreading. This bank debt is their focus. http://thechatteringmagpie14.blogspot.ie/2013/03/irelands-bank-bailout-fundamentals.html
They have highlighted how we went from a bank guarantee of 5 million to a 69.7 billion debt that will be carried through for generations. A very informative link explains it here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vS0WfZau0Q&feature=youtu.be
And a quicker one here.
When all this borrowing was going on nobody was controlling what was happening with the euro. Ireland within the euro system cannot control its own books. Germany was decreasing interest rates, it suited them, it did not suit Ireland. The 2008 bank guarantee ( in which the Brian Lenihan was told it was a 5billion liquidity problem) lasted 2 years. It Jumped to a 400 billion exposure. How did this happen? Why to Ireland?
After the guarantee the ECB it appears washed their hands of the situation. They wanted to make sure no bondholder felt pain. From the Ballyhea link, it seems the EU abused their political muscle, by not stepping in and trying to help Ireland. However, the IMF wanted to burn the bondholders. Ireland now had a 69bn euro of debt. The 67 million pension reserve fund was gone, to two defined banks pension funds, Anglo 35 m, AIB 20 million. This interest on this debt is to be paid over the next 40 years and bubble payments over the next 30/40 years after that. This debatable debt is expected to be paid for by Ireland till 2038 when the ECB will come looking for the original debt amount.
The bank debt is not a focus in the media.
Regarding the importance of social media to a movement, I also came across this aptly titled article, ‘IRELAND DESTROYS ANOTHER €500M – headline missed last week’, from July 13th 2015, that explains a schedule of payments that are being made to EU, IMF, Trioka.
See article at;
This is also news that will be hard to come across in the main stream media. These very important stories are being told on social media though. They are impacting the public at large, from people sharing and informing each other of news that the media and government are very quiet about. Where are we getting alternate news? Facebook/twitter are popular. Especially twitter for breaking news and trending.
There are great information blogs like;
Today,12th August, an important and concise article sums up a good measure of the times. It says,
‘While people like O’Brien and Tierney have previously been able to hide in plain sight – the former due in part to his firm grip on large portions of the national media – information about their dealings has spread mostly through social media, enlightening anyone who wants to find out more. It doesn’t take much work to join these dots, and more people than ever before are doing so’.
To finish this post, this is a great piece, found at;
from last year. It highlights how social media can bring people together, especially when being villified for attempting to stand against the narrative of the authorities and corporate media. Also, here lies ‘the press’ exposed for unasked questions, we can see for ourselves.
“If nothing else, this has proved once and for all, we do not need the press to lead or shape public opinion. In fact, independent public opinion exists in spite of media attempts to lead and shape it. The public is no longer subject to the false illusions of the establishment. The public understands that it is it’s own reality, not the one presented to it on the evening news or morning newspaper’.
I would like to discuss the influence and impact of creative, digital and social media within these movements. Also, it’s usefulness as a mechanism of expression and identity.
I would also like to find out it’s limitations and how best these campaigns can mobilise themselves forward and maximize the use of creative media.
Firstly, there are many successful, well written and researched news sources within both of these campaigns and that spur on the movements and mobilisation of people. They are often spread through social media via Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
There are Facebook group pages, that share information on the Irish water situation, share videos from their mobile phones and share and organise protest dates.
It has been a quite grassroots movement. Many different people are united against further austerity.
This is a core issue uniting the movements.
I think the possibility of future privatisation is also a very real fear another core issue driving the momentum. Here is an article ( Nov’16) that represents a privatisation fear;
Also this read is very sobering, at; https://medium.com/@beyourownreason/the-irish-shock-doctrine-cd45fb8cd564
“The only way out will be privatisation. And that’s the €25Billion bonanza the IMF had in sight from the start.
Another article by Be Your Own Reason called Irish Water Privatisation: An Open and shut Case, explains these fears too. See at; https://medium.com/@beyourownreason/nprf-isif-newera-ntma-4c52f09c7ff6
To me and many others this is a form of economic dictatorship. Ireland is being held a slave country to bankers.
Not to get too down, people have become more informed of current happenings and have become more involved and inevitably more politicised. I have myself. I have met others on social media and at Irish Water protests, through social media platforms that run campaigns on Irish Water. They often cheer me up and I feel a solidarity with them. A hopefulness in hard times.
With social media we realise more that we are not alone. I feel it has been an important factor in the mass/smaller/ongoing protests that have been held in recent months and the result of 57% mass boycott of Irish Water.
Here are some other links that show how these movements are progressing. This social media is like a tide, slow and sure, constant.
explains ‘the destructive and fundamentally anti-democratic character of austerity policies, and the fact that their governments act in the interests of bankers and business elites first and foremost. But the Irish Times rarely, if ever, gives voice to such reasonable opposition.’
http://www.newsaccess.ie/our-blog/newsaccess-insight-is-social-media-the-new-vehicle-for-protest the social networks in Ireland have been brimming with debate, speculation and quite often anger over the impact of the charge. It then asks ‘Does this indicate that ‘digital demonstrators’ are replacing active protestors on the big topics in the news? As the charges begin from today we will have to wait and see if the social media reaction has a further impact on in-person demonstrations.
The water protest movement is proving a challenge to the authorities.
also by Mercille
Mercille asks: Why does Denis O’Brien sue everyone?
Because he can.
Dr Julien Mercille summarises them briefly and look at the related problems of media concentration and Ireland’s defamation laws.
The absence of a fully involved and impartial press is notable. The water tax result of 57% got barely a mention at the end of the RTE evening news, today when the result was given.
Environment Minster Alan Kelly told Denis o Brien station Newstalk this morning (date?) that one way or another, “everyone will pay” their bill. This is someone who is elected to be a representative. This is totally out of touch with the people. He goes on to compare the situation with Syriza and says “Look what happened to them”. He comes across as a bully. It is the same narrative that has been presented by the government since the the beginning. It’s tired and old.