People intuitively feel that we live in a divided society of haves and have-nots. It has been the role of each government of the day to dismiss, and reject out of hand, any notion that society is structured in such a way that exploits the great majority of the population for the benefit of the ruling class and their business criminal friends.
We live in such times today. The structures of power and coercion over the population are indeed so strong that the 'leaders' of this contorted democracy can, with staggering arrogance, feel confident enough to do away with even pretending that we live in a society based upon fundamental concepts such as justice and equality. Michael Mc Dowell, taking time out from reading congratulatory letters from the KKK on his racist immigration 'policies', states openly that "..inequality is needed for modern society to fuction." He was and still is minister for Equality, Justice and Law Reform. When fellow PD Mary Harney was asked to explain how someone responsible for equality and justice could even suggest such a notion she said "The concept he tried to explain could have been explained using different language - we don't live in a society where everyone is the same -.its like a football team, some people are Premier Division, and some aren't so good, unfortunately." You can only wonder what this now means for the Dept. of Health!! Democracy, it seems, is something we help the American and British governments kill Afghans and Iraqis for, not something we need to apply to our own country.
So what about justice in this country? Justice is often thought of in terms of crime and punishment. Miscarriages of justice are notoriously common around politically motivated court proceedings, or as more recently seen in Donegal, 'bent coppers' but they are not in any way restricted to these types of cases. In fact the idea of singular miscarriages of justice in some ways completely misses the point.
Ireland, like so many of industrialised 'democracies' employs a system of justice that deliberately targets members of the working class. Basically this is a tactic of ignoring the long established link between inequality, poverty and crime and managing the results. Long term unemployment, poor housing, and alienation from any meaningful decision-making process which could improve communities combine to create an environment in decay.
It sets up the conditions for communal decay and contributes massively to what is called 'anti-social behaviour'. This is not an attempt to rationalise away or ignore the very real impact that petty crime has, both to individuals and to society as a whole, but to argue that justice can only be achieved by tackling the causes of social decline and also by treating everyone equally when judging their actions and resulting impact.
Why is it that there is no expensive tribunals set up to 'establish the truth' about joyriding in Darndale. How come there isn't a ten year toothless talking shop funded by me and you to discover what really causes inner city decay and crime. The reason so often given for Flood, Moriarty et al is that if these cases were heard before a court, the truth would never be known. So, if the courts system cannot function in such a way to see justice served to the country's biggest business criminals, because it is unlikely to get to the truth about the institutionalised theft of our land and money, why should the rest of us have to put up with it?.
Why also has the Criminal Assets Bureau limited its investigation to particular types of criminals? One explanation that is proffered is that only violent criminals need to be investigated. Again it is the state who defines violent. I wonder if those waiting on hospital trolleys, unpaid care assistants, under funded overworked public servants, those slaving under job insecurity, or asylum seekers 'surviving' on 19 euros a week would have a different interpretation of violence, knowing that this government will do all in their power to hide the hundreds of millions of euros, generated by us, that have lined the off shore accounts of their business criminal friends.
Justice, like so much, will only be served when we stand up to demand it!!
by Mark Malone
This edition is No83 published in November 2004
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