Friday, November 25, 2011

Let Slip the Dogs of War: But Not Right Here!

Government Buildings, Dublin, early in the morning.

It took me several days of getting my bearings to figure out that my little Georgian hotel sits just a few steps  from the Dáil Éireann, the home of the Taoiseach--the Irish Prime Minister--as well as their lower house of Parliament. It is a bit like being in a hotel across the street from the White House and the Capitol.

This formidable set of structures sits between the National Library and the National Museum of Archeology, so when I went to see these museums I noticed, through the iron fence, lots of men and women in the nearby courtyard with cell phones stuck to their ears--called mo-biles here in the Euro Zone--rushing about between meetings.

Government Buildings, Dublin, from the other side. This is the front entrance. My hotel sits near the back gate, which seems to be the way everyone comes and goes--also where all the demonstrations take place.

Then, as I walked back from Thanksgiving dinner with some family friends who are living over here, I spotted the barriers.

Crowd control barriers, with my hotel in the background.

Hmm, thought I, those barriers look like they are being set aside for crowd control, in the event of a demonstration. Later, watching their television news, I learned about the General Strike being called for next week. Labour--now out of power--is organizing the event as a protest against the budget cuts the new government is proposing to keep Ireland solvent.

Crowd control barriers, looking the other way, toward the Dáil.

Ireland--unlike America--still has a thriving newspaper industry and the papers have been full of all the twists and turns of the challenges to the Euro. With German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, now the strong lady of Europe, the new Irish government is struggling to find a path to thrift that won't give Germany new control over their finances.

In the lingo of the economists, Ireland is now in danger of joining Europe's PIGS--Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain--all on the brink of the economic precipice.

So, while the new Taoiseach needs support for his austerity plan, he faces a General Strike, egged on by the Labour backbenchers. Just like a thriving democracy--very messy in times of crisis.

What it means to me, is that some of the mess seems sure to take place right along the narrow street in front of my hotel. Hence, the pile of barriers. The good news is that it will provide a ringside seat onto history.

The bad news is that this all will be taking place right about the time I will need transportation to the airport. The hotel porter assures me nobody will pay any attention to the call for a General Strike.  And anyway, he said, this being Ireland, essential business will go forward.

Ah, here's an essential business going forward in front of my hotel bar.

On the other hand, a couple I met at breakfast, Americans over here via Great Britain (he, of course, in Big Boy jeans) said to expect a rough time, especially if traveling via London, which fortunately I am not.

With luck, I'll get to witness the fuss, and still have a means of getting home. But, I might just need the luck of the Irish.

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Don Meuler said...

A front row seat with a pint o' Guinness? Could be worse, my friend, could be worse...
But be careful! :o)

Robin Chapman said...

Oh, I was really dreaming the drama. Turns out it rained on demonstration day so the turnout was very small.