2011- a perfect time to take to the streets

I’d say the last thing on Kate Middleton’s mind as she rings in the new year will be worrying if her water supply gets cut off.

Even if it did, the future princess wouldn’t have to be down at the leisure centre for a shower or queuing up with a Ballygowan bottle at the nearest communal tap.

There lies the gap between the rich and the rest of us, a gap which unfortunately, is ever widening.

Even the less economically educated amongst us realise that things aren’t going to get much better in 2011.

No one wants to be a prophet of doom but, let’s face it, there’s not a hope of Cowen and co sorting the South’s problems and with the North at the mercy of impending tory cuts, life isn’t going to be easy for any of us.

If 2011 is to mean anything in the context of cuts and so called austerity measures, we should let it be the year that illustrates our resistance, as a people to being treated like non living, non breathing numbers.

We can resist, albeit within certain limits, via the ballot box during the general election in The Republic and the assembly elections here in the North.

Even within that we’re restricted to many of the same names, some of which we might justifiably ask “what have you done for me lately.”

Liam Gallagher from the Derry Trades Council seems to summarise it well in his New Year statement.

“The indications are that 2011 will see our unemployment rate here go into double figures with expected loss of Public Sector jobs and its effect on the Private Sector,” he says.

He goes on to pledge that The Trade Unions will mount a campaign against The assembly’s decision to implement Tory Cuts and Pay Freezes.

He says: “The least well off, the unemployed and working men and women will have their opportunity in the May Assembly and Local Government election to give give their verdict on the economic performance of our local politicians. To date our M.L.A.’s have not delivered for the North West. We have the highest level of unemployment, the highest levels of economically inactive and the lowest manufacturing base per head of population. We have had years of platitudes,excuses and the party blame game. It is time that we had some solutions or people might be forgiven for wondering why extremely well qualified Public Sector workers have to face redundancy and 21,000 pay freezes while 108 M.L.A.’s on more than 3 times that salary are have delivered nothing in terms of employment.”

If ever there was a time for us to get on our feet, it’s now.

As a reporter I’ve attended numerous rallies against the cuts and how they will affect the North West and for the most part the turnout from members of the public at these events has been pitiful.

Most of us see the usual faces in the crowds, typically campaigners and elected representatives. But if the student demonstrations and protests against medical card losses in the republic taught us anything, it’s that people power grabs headlines and has the potential to change policy.

Maybe it’s the fact that we live in an era of advanced technology and it’s easier to email a radio presenter to air our views rather than joining a march but in 2011 we really should start speaking with our feet.

History has shown us time and time again that it’s only when people come together as a community that we really begin to achieve things.

Cuts to public services and vital social welfare benefits will hit us all in one way or another so we should all be rallying against them.

Things won’t get magically better at the beginning of this new year, but it’s definitely not a time for doing nothing.