Back From The Brink – Our Adventure

Sorry for the lack of updates in the last couple of days. Frankfurt was exhausting – but fun, and very satisfying. For once I was actually doing something about the state of the nation instead of just talking about it.

Ringleader Diarmuid O’Flynn, and Filmmaker Donnacha Ó Briain who accompanied us

The story, in case you haven’t heard yet: Ballyhea is a townland in Cork once known for little except a decent GAA tradition; now it’s perhaps the most spoken-of place in the country. Because on Tuesday night, the Ballyhea Bank Bondholder Bailout Protest group – and some hangers-on like me – attached a petition of complaint to the front door of the European Central Bank, after the model of Martin Luther and before a meeting of the Eurozone’s Central Bank governors.

So was it an exercise in futility, to petition one of the most aloof and rarefied institutions on the planet? Of course it wasn’t going to change ECB policy. But it brought it to the attention of the wider world that Ireland is not obediently accepting the austerity process – even if that’s the image our government wants to project – and that we are not ready to bear the gambling losses of commercial banks.

We don’t like it, we don’t deserve it – the problem is we don’t think we can do anything about it. And that sense of helplessness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Something like this is a way to break that cycle, and make people aware that they can stand up. I’m a fine example; it’s not like me to take direct action. I fret about it compromising my neutrality as a commentator, I want to avoid being identified with one particular issue, I… am a lazy, cynical bastard basically. But Ballyhea’s uncomplicated approach was an inspiration. We booked Ryanair flights to Frankfurt – €56 return including the bus from the Ryanairport – and stood in the street with some signs. For this, we got to talk with the Wall Street Journal, German newspaper Bild and several other international media outlets, plus appear on Irish TV (video) and radio. We got the message out there.

Anyone can do this. More will.

We stand outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, intriguing the passers-by
The 40 theses, attached to the bank
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