REAL power in Ireland still resides with the people “as long as we choose to exercise it”, Independent TD Stephen Donnelly told an audience at Dolan’s Warehouse as part of the Limerick Spring.
The festival of politics and ideas, now in its second year, featured debates, panel discussions, Speaker’s Corner in the People’s Park, workshops, film screenings and other events at various venues around the city over the weekend.
Deputy Donnelly was participating in the setpiece Big Debate on where power lies, chaired by Limerick satirist Gerry Stembridge on Saturday on the stage at Dolan’s and featuring a panel that included Diarmuid O’Flynn, founder of the Ballyhea Says No protest; DCU political scientist Dr Jane Suiter, journalist Malachy Browne, Italian film-maker Thomas Fazi and author Philippe Legrain of the London School of Economics.
“In the absence of people exercising their power” at the ballot box, the political system would only consolidate its power against the better interests of the people, Deputy Donnelly said. The Wicklow TD cited the role of the Economic Management Council - comprising Enda Kenny, Joan Burton, Michael Noonan, Brendan Howlin and unelected advisors - as an example how vital decisions on the economy, public debt and the banks were being taken out of the hands of not only TDs but of the cabinet itself.
“Ireland’s controlled, centralist, patriarchal and authoritarian system means we don’t get the best out of our TDs our councillors, our civil servants, our teachers, our hospital porters and our gardai,” Deputy Donnelly said.
For a full report on the Big Debate, see this weekend’s Limerick Leader.