Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.
These prophetic words from Joni Mitchell's 'Big Yellow Taxi' were in my head as I left the Guildhall Square today after an anti-austerity event in Derry organised by People Before Profit.
And yes this is the same People Before Profit that I have difficulties with, however!!!
One thing I can say about People Before Profit is that as a political party they are not supportive of cuts to services or forcing people on the dole to work for their benefits unlike the Stormont parties who between them all have supported cuts to services and Workfare schemes.
I stood today in the Guildhall Square with a broad range of people who whilst we might not agree on everything, we agree that the Stormont cuts to services will impact on the most vulnerable and poorest in society. The crowd wasn't massive, but it has to start somewhere and I believe the size of the crowd reflects that this was an event organised by a political party. However in fairness to People Before Profit they didn't hog the stage which was mostly made up of community and trade union representatives.
So the question now is how can we harness the feelings of the people? My personal preference would be a series of politically neutral community based events bringing together community groups, trade unions and like minded individuals to start to show the 'powers that be' that people are fed up with their rubbish. The politicians with their superglued smiles tell us the response on the doorsteps has been fantastic, the word is they are getting hit with reality, long may it last.
We stood today with a banner highlighting civil rights, this garnered a lot of interest from people there and passers by, many of whom stopped, asking if we were a political grouping. Later having the banner name checked from the speakers platform hinted at its relevancy.
With the Westminster election looming a crucial element to keep in mind is that irrespective of the outcome the North of Ireland will remain an afterthought, unless you believe the DUP who are confident that they will make a difference in the event of a hung parliament.
Next year is the clincher, 2016 sees the next Stormont election and it is there we must either challenge the balance of power or face more years of inept mismanagement masquerading as a Government, but to do this we must start now.
What's needed now is something to galvanise support, something to provide an alternative to the Stormont play acting and sham fights. More cuts are coming and people need someone in Stormont who will do what's right, not what the party tells them, someone who will truly stand up for Derry.
In the last local government election we had 3 independent Councillors elected from the wards in Derry, and if that doesn't show there is the potential for at least one independent MLA in this area alone, or maybe more, nothing will !
|Veteran Civil Rights Leader Ivan Cooper who was too ill to attend the protest.|
Thousands of people came onto the Streets of Derry during the original civil rights era to face down the Stormont demagogues, the people spoke and the halls of power shook with so much fear that it's response was murder on the Streets of Derry on Bloody Sunday.
Now is the time for the people to speak again because if we don't future conversations will include ... do you remember when you could get your child into a nursery ... do you remember when your child got educated in class smaller than 40 pupils, do you remember classroom assistants and when you didn't have to work full time hours for the dole???
Like Joni Mitchell so aptly put it, you don't know what you've got till it's gone.