A ‘political cabaret’ took place in Athlone last week featuring music and a banter on European citizenship from Minister Lucinda Creighton and former Minister, Mary O’Rourke.
The political roadshow is called ‘Leviathan’ and is a unique entertainment session, with political discussion on Europe. It was created by Mr. Naoise Nunn, who was present in the hall on the night.
Included, along with Creighton and O’Rourke on the ‘Leviathan’ panel in the Dean Crowe Theatre were environmental consultant, Jack O’Sullivan and CEO of Irish Rural Link Seamus Boland, and a fifty plus audience made up of interested observers, politicians, ex-politicians, and hopeful politicians.
“Society has changed since we came into Europe, and my mother got married in 1973, the year that we joined the European Community, and she was a teacher, and if the law hadn’t changed for civil servants, she would have had to have given up work,” said Lucinda Creighton, Minister of State for Europe.
Mary O’Rourke praised the benefits to Irish education from Europe, and particularly cited the Erasmus scheme and Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS).
“You would all know people whose son, or daughter has gone to study in European cities, to continue studies, in this marvellous terrific programme for young people,” said the former Minister for Education. “VTOS was wonderful for people, who have left school early, and they could go back to education, and that was an entirely European idea, a brilliant idea.”
However she also said there is a distance with Europe, “a distance of spirit and intention,” and suggested that a digest be printed about what Europe means to each citizen in Ireland.
Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan was in the audience and said that he was unhappy with the discussion going on in the theatre, and that he believed that it would be a debate on the future of Europe.
The Roscommon Independent TD said the people on the panel were clearly all very pro-Europe.
“How can you have a debate when you all agree with each other, and who is paying for this showcasing?” asked Ming.
“We didn’t get paid anyway,” said Mary O’Rourke.
“Someone has to pay the Dean Crowe Hall,” said Ming.
Minister Creighton said that Naoise Nunn sent in a proposal, following an advertisement about engaging Irish citizens.
“There is an idea here that we wouldn’t have moved forward if we didn’t join the EU, and that women would not have equal rights in this country if we didn’t join the EU, if so that is fault of TDs in our country,” said the Roscommon TD. “Is it your conclusion that we needed someone to give us women’s rights, I am a Eurosceptic, but I believe in women’s rights, and we are spending state funding going around trying to convince people about Europe. There are many people in this country who are not pro-Europe, when will we be funded to bring showcases around the country?”
Minister Creighton said that all Independents are given allowances paid by the taxpayers, and nothing was stopping anyone from submitting a proposal.
Local political activist John McNamara said that this year, 2013, is the European Year of the Citizen, and there is a disconnect with Europe.
“We are all asked to register for a septic tank, and yet there is pollution going into all our rivers, and the turfcutters are being screwed,” said Mr. McNamara. “Don’t be afraid to fight, and make a difference. Our own town council locked the door to the public. The locked us out, that is democracy, what type of Europe is it?”
The chairman, Will Faulkner said that the council said that there were people who were disrupting the procedures.
“There is a soup kitchen 500m from here, and you are telling us we are disconnecting with Europe, but we have rewarded investors of Germany and France,” said Mr. McNamara. “Is it right to cut carers allowances? If anyone really cared, they (politicians) would give up their allowances and work for the council for nothing. My main gripe is big business gets away.”