A fair shake for all

A fair shake for all

August 28, 2016 Blog 0 Comments
Ok, there may be a few jobs better than Finance Minister: Dublin football manager, sound engineer at Van Morrison concerts, chief taster at Jameson’s distillery or even curator at the National Gallery.
But they are few and far between because as Finance Minister you get to meet the inspirational people who are making a difference.
Most are interested in finance only in so much as it can oil the engines of their change machines — but that’s a plus in my book.
Take the unstoppable Chairman of Crossmaglen GAC (another enviable job position), Joe Kernan and his colleagues who invited me down to South Armagh this week to discuss his bold idea to put the experience and endeavour of the club at the vanguard of local job promotion efforts.
I met club stalwarts along with GAA legend Peter Quinn on the expansive and immaculate grounds of the famed team on Thursday and was impressed by their commitment and vision.
On the stunning field of dreams, a summer school was taking place with volunteer coaches. I was taken aback by how many of the young participants answered my “An bhfuil Gaeilge agaibh?” with a shouted “Tá”.
But it’s not only in Cross that I have the enormous privilege of being in the same company of irrepressible changemakers.
Fighting for the dignity of employment: with Bertie and Dessie of PPR

In the heart of the loyalist Crumlin Road, this week I met Dessie and Bertie to talk about how we can use government investment contracts to provide good jobs to the long-term unemployed. After our meeting, we strolled across to the magnificent Girdwood Hub, a £20m recreational, housing and educational project which now stands where a peaceline once scarred North Belfast.

I am at one with both men in their determination to ensure the dignity of employment is afforded those who haven’t yet enjoyed the full bounty of the peace process.
And is in South Armagh, their demand wasn’t primarily for finance but for a fair shake for all.
And ultimately, that’s the job of finance minister: ensuring that everyone gets fair play.
And, in a society where fair play hasn’t always been available to all, that’s the sort of position you wouldn’t want to give up in a hurry.

About the Author

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is the outgoing Sinn Féin MLA for South Belfast and a civic activist in Belfast.