Saturday, 22 August 2009

Placing citizenship centre-stage: Michael D's take on the debate and what's missing

Michael D. Higgins' opinion piece in today's Irish Times is well worth a read, especially in view of recent debates here on social welfare, rent supplements and the minimum wage. He writes:

Missing from the debate so far is any concept of citizenship. Indeed, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern reduced the debate on citizenship to a debate on volunteering, important but not the same thing. This is quite extraordinary in a republic. It is regarded as radical and unacceptable by the conservatives who cheered on the property rackets to speak of social security, of a floor below which citizens would not be allowed to fall. After all, the most extensive interview given on our public service broadcaster by the leading banker/gambler who did the most damage to Ireland’s financial reputation called for cuts in social welfare. Yet citizenship is what we should now be discussing. The more socially-concerned elements of the public surely do not want a return of more of the same.

Read the full piece here.

1 comment:

SlĂ­ Eile said...

At the heart of a new social solidarity is citizenship - or to be more exact active democratic citizenship. I recall Michael D warning some years ago about the dangers of turning citizenship into a substitute for a partnership of citizens and public agency. in other words telling people to be active as volunteers but not addressing the issues of equality, power, structures. The irony of the debate on 'citizenship' is that it turned into a debate about volunteering and - in some cases a debate about a legal status. Its much much more than that. The failure of economics, politics and society to debate the real issues is a real challenge. We need more leadership and courage and throughtful and passioned contributions. Thanks Micheal D for that.