This chapter offers a critical reading of the Uprising and its place in recent Irish history. It analyses the forms that resistance took and the extent to which it transgressed or reinforced the clientelist norms of political engagement in Ireland. For many participants in the Uprising, this was an opportunity to face down ageism, as reflected in the budget's targeting of older people and as a force within Irish society. Condemnation of Ireland's two-tier or 'apartheid' health services is commonplace. The health system itself is complex; private and public services coexist and even overlap, and entitlements are finely graduated so that only a minority qualify for free access to primary services via the medical card regime. Defending and rationalising medical card retrenchment, Minister Brian Lenihan also appealed to vague concepts of fairness and the presumed inefficiencies of universalism.
This chapter describes The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (TRTP) as a classic activist text. Robert Tressell claimed that his 'main object was to write a readable story full of human interest and based on the happenings of everyday life, the subject of socialism being treated incidentally'. Tressell's descriptions are underpinned by a political and economic analysis that allows readers to contextualise and problematise individual experience. As a 'social' critique of capitalism, TRTP operates at a number of different levels. Tristram Hunt notes that Tressell was influenced by competing 'traditions within the socialist canon' and integrated 'both ethical and economic schools of thought'. Tressell evokes both the silent and more vulgar forms of coercion as he describes the symbiotic relationship between violence and capitalism in TRTP. Tressell recognises that for all who participate in struggle, our greatest strengths may be our greatest weaknesses.
This book analyses and critiques Irish society in the early twenty-first century, but seeks to do so by consciously avoiding myth-making and generalisation. It invites readers to revisit and rethink twelve events that span the years 2001-2009. It shows that all of these events reveal crucial intersections of structural power and resistance in contemporary Ireland. The book shows how the events carry traces of both social structure and human agency. They were shaped by overarching political, economic, social and cultural currents; but they were also responses to proposals, protests, advocacy and demands that have been articulated by a broad spectrum of social actors. The book also explores how power works ideologically and through policy instruments to support dominant models of capital accumulation. Identities are constructed at the interface between public policy, collective commitments and individual biographies. They mobilise both power and resistance, as they move beyond the realm of the personal and become focal points for debates about rights, responsibilities, resources and even the borders of the nation itself. The book suggests that conceptions of Irish identity and citizenship are being redrawn in more positive ways. Family is the cornerstone, the natural, primary and fundamental unit group of society. Marriage is the religious, cultural, commercial, and political institution that defines and embeds its values. The book presents a 2004 High Court case taken by Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan for legal recognition of their marriage as a same-sex couple, which had taken place a year previously in Canada.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book analyses Irish society in the early twenty-first century, but seeks to do so by consciously avoiding myth-making and generalisation. It explores how power works ideologically and through policy instruments to support dominant models of capital accumulation. The book discusses how neo-liberalism as both an ideology and practice continues to 'fail forward' despite being implicated as cause and aftereffect of the global economic crisis. It describes the powerful discursive and disciplinary force of 'development'; how it is invoked in politics and the media to nullify debate and to disguise its own ideological underpinnings and the provisionality of its assumptions. The book presents twelve events that span the years 2001-2009.