COMMUNITY & ORGANISING
Following the financial banking crisis of 2008, organisers and activists in Ireland have campaigned and protested against the further entrenchment of existing social inequalities exacerbated by state austerity measures implemented over the last decade. Indeed, cuts to public funding in education and healthcare, for instance, have had significant impacts on the increasing gap in deprivation between and among vulnerable groups and communities throughout Irish society.
Students at the global climate change strike in Dublin’s Merrion Square, September 2019. SOURCE: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times
A number of both established and nascent community-based and grass-roots organisations have thus struggled and continue to struggle for justice and equality on a myriad of issues — such as housing and homelessness, workers rights, LGBTQ rights, asylum seekers and refugees, anti-racism, climate change, and reproductive justice. From public demonstrations and door-to-door campaigns to sit-ins and walk-outs, all political and social progress in Ireland has long been propelled by these efforts.
Moreover, while mainstream discourses have tended to frame the onset of COVID-19 as though it were a wholly unforeseeable crisis that has disrupted an otherwise strong economy, a number of organisers and activists have pointed to the ways in which the pandemic has brought to surface the many structural inequalities and deficiencies that have put vulnerable communities in harm’s way well before coronavirus hit its shores.
ISOLATION AS PRIVILEGE
In attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, health officials have advised that all individuals self-isolate and physically distance themselves from others as much as they can. Yet while for some, adjusting to this new “self-discipline”, so to speak, has proven difficult, for others ‘social distancing’ is simply impossible.
To learn more about vulnerable groups in our own communities disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, scroll below.
MIGRANTS AND ETHNIC MINORITIES
Mainstream discussions of Ireland’s national identity tend to neglect the racialised, gendered, and classist elements of ‘Irishness’ that effectively serve to exclude minorities from crucial aspects of Irish citizenship. To learn more about these issues within the context of the coronavirus outbreak, click on the button to the left.
Irish Travellers are a traditionally itinerant (or travelling) ethnic minority group in Ireland. For years, Traveller communities have been subject to widespread stereotyping and discrimination. To learn more about how Irish Travellers have been affected by COVID-19, click the button on the left.
With nearly 9,000 asylum seekers currently living in Ireland’s Direct Provision system — where individuals and families are typically kept in small and cramped unhygienic spaces — many have spoken to the inevitable disasters that await those inside should the state fail to act. To learn more, click the button on the left.
TRANS AND GENDER NONCONFORMING INDIVIDUALS
Individuals who identify as trans or gender nonconforming face immense prejudice and discrimination in their daily lives where issues of safety, access to health care services and medical supports, and employment are already grave and difficult concerns. To learn more about how trans and gender nonconforming individuals have been affected by the lock-down measures, click the button to your left.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
While there has been some progress, persons with disabilities are still often seen through the lenses of a medical prism that depicts them as ‘burdens’ on society rather than autonomous individuals. In Ireland, persons with disabilities have historically experienced interpersonal and systemic abuse, neglect, prejudice, and inequality. To learn more about how they have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, click on the button to your left.
While they share many of the same concerns as all workers across the country, sex workers have long been faced with high levels of prejudice, abuse and surveillance — all of which has only been further exacerbated by the pandemic. learn more, click on the button to your left.
The coronavirus pandemic hit Ireland amidst a national housing and homelessness crisis. According to Focus Ireland, there were 9,907 people reported as homeless just before lock-down measures were announced in March 2020. To learn more about how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted individuals and families most affected by these issues, click on the button to your left.
AND SOCIAL SOLIDARITY
Across the world we have seen the devastating impacts of state lock-down measures and subsequent announcement of mass layoffs in countries where social safety nets were already weak. In response, multiple mutual aid initiatives have emerged globally in communities where the most vulnerable persons — including the elderly, incarcerated, undocumented and unhoused — need help the most.
In kind, there have been a number of fruitful discussions around what it means to provide ‘mutual aid’.
In this regard, community organisers have critically pointed out how mutual aid efforts are only possible at this time because of the decades of labour put into establishing networks of solidarity and care through local campaigns, activism, and organising.
SOURCE: Democracy Now! | 20 March 2020 | Click here for video transcript
Speaking to Mariame Kaba (a longtime organizer and abolitionist, and founder of Project NIA, which works to end the incarceration of children and young adults) as well as Dean Spade (associate professor at Seattle University School of Law and founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project), Amy Goodman explores what it means to create and maintain communities of mutual aid during a pandemic.
There are a number of ways in which you can get involved in your own communities and help those in need even during the lock-down. To learn more, you can visit the Volunteer Ireland COVID-19 webpage; join a community group on Facebook (such as COVID-19 Workers Speak Out); organise with your colleagues and fellow workers and link up with your local union; or start your own initiative by (safely) asking your own neighbours if they need help with anything.
Page last updated: 15.18 Thursday 14 May 2020