Annual report 2014
26 February 2023
CLAIMING OUR FUTURE
Find .doc version including the budget report here
REPORT 2014 & WORK PLAN 2015
1. REPORT 2014
Claiming Our Future has completed a productive year’s work with a range of key initiatives implemented and new approaches to our aims and objectives developed. Five issues have given focus to the work of Claiming Our Future over the past year. These are the Declaration for a New Republic, Income Equality, Democratic Reform, the Financial Transactions Tax, and the Art of Campaigning.
The Declaration for a New Republic
There has been strong enthusiasm and interest in the idea of developing a blueprint document on an alternative vision for Ireland to mark 2016 and to mobilise support around it. A first draft Declaration for a New Republic was developed on foot of open meetings inCork(13/05), Dublin (29/03 and 9/07) and Galway (13/06). This is to be used as a ‘Call for Responses’. A toolkit outlining how to get involved in the Declaration process was prepared.
A significant development in this initiative has happened with the involvement of a group of artists. The idea of 'Future News' was devised to stimulate an engagement with the Declaration and the development of ideas for inclusion in the Declaration. 'Future News' involves groups and individuals in developing news items set in the future, in a world where the Declaration has been implemented. A plan has now been developed to roll out ‘Future News’ and to support people to get creative in making their news items.
Two unique events were hosted in Dublin on the issue of income equality. TheSwiss 1:12 wage ratio campaign was invited to Dublin to brief Claiming Our Future and to speak at a public event on 3rd of July. They shared their experiences and the lessons from their campaign to initiate and a referendum on a 1:12 ratio on wages in Switzerland and their attempts to win this campaign. Sam Pizzigati, an American journalist, author, and editor of Toomuch.org was invited to Dublin to brief Claiming Our Future and to speak at a public even on the maximum wage on 16th of September.
Both events were well attended and sparked strong debate. They also created media interest. Interviews on the Pat Kenny Show, with the Irish Times and on the Vincent Browne Show are available on the website.
Claiming our Future facilitated an Economic Equality Steering Group. This draws people from different sectors and organizations involved in the full range of economic equality issues together to share information and to coordinate in pushing the issue of economic equality. This includes issues of living wage, income equality, tax justice and minimum wage.
A paper was prepared for the budget 2015. This set out proposals for tax reform for equality. This titled ‘Stairway to Equality’ and included proposals on Corporation Tax, Financial Transactions Tax, Income Tax, Wealth Tax, and consumption and advertising taxes.
The three year programme of work on Democratic Reform was drawn to a close during the year. A range of issues was debated with papers developed and proposals agreed in a number of areas. These included Dail reform, local government reform, direct democracy, and freedom of information.
A submission on Dail reform was made to the Constitutional Convention. This was based on a public meeting to build a consensus on a range of reform proposals. The proposals made and the experience in developing the Public Participation Networks was a focus for debate in relation to local government reform.
Democratic reform remains central to the work of Claiming Our Future and will be a focus in the Declaration initiative.
Financial Transaction Tax
A public debate was hosted in Dublin on the introduction of the Financial Transactions Tax between Micheal Collins of NERI and Brendan Bruen of IBEC on April 29th. A social media initiative was organised for May 6th where 200 people shared the campaign message with their social media contacts and reached 100,000 people. As a result these people took action by emailing Minister Michael Noonan to ask him to change the Irish position and make the financial sector pay the tax in Ireland. Claiming Our Future and a number of other organisations supporting the campaign also wrote separately to Michael Noonan asking for a change of position from the Irish Government. Thirty large civil society organisations have pledged their support for the introduction of the Financial Transactions Tax.
A political lobby has been developed on the issue with a particular focus on the opposition parties with a view to getting a commitment to the tax in their manifestos for the next election.
Claiming Our Future hosted a visit by David Hillman of Stamp Out Poverty in the UK, who plays a leading part in the EU wide campaign for a Financial Transactions Tax. This visit was used to brief Sinn Fein, Labour, the Greens, and Fianna Fail on the tax. This has opened up promising channels of communication with the parties. It was also used to host meeting for civil society groups interested in the campaign and to brief trade unions on the campaign. This opened up new support for the campaign.
Claiming our Future supported the EU wide campaign including on initiatives at the start of the Italian Presidency of the EU in July and on a Twitter Storm for the ECOFIN meeting in November 2014. Currently Claiming Our Future is following up inaccuracies in the Department of Finance briefing to the Dail on the tax and issues in relation to exemptions introduced in relation to Stamp Duty in 2007.
The Art of Campaigning
A conference 'Creative Strategies for Social Change' was organised by Claiming Our Future on May 27th jointly with the Advocacy Initiative. The conference brought together advocates, activists and artists on a packed day abuzz with energy and creativity and with the clear ask to continue this exchange and also to make it more practical. The conference has given an impetus for this work to continue. In a very practical way the conference paved the way for the exchanges that led to the ‘Future News’ initiative described above.
Communication, Participation and Cross-Sectoral Engagement
A regular email newsletter, including Claiming our Future news and events and news from other organisations was disseminated.Members of the Central group take weekly turns in tweeting on behalf of Claiming Our Future. This is linked to our facebook page and increased our social media presence and traffic on our website significantly. Followers on Twitter, for example, increased by 700 since March to 2591 followers. Claiming our Future has a monthly contribution in key trade union papers, Liberty and Shopfloor, and in the Wheel Focalpoint. Village magazine continues to cover the key issues being worked on by Claiming Our Future.
Claiming Our Future continues to provide speakers to events around the country. On July 9th the Central group invited supporters to a walking tour with Dr. Conor McCabe of UCD through the Irish Financial Services Centre to illustrate the range of issues associated with this centre.
Claiming Our Future continues work to stimulate and engage in cross-sectoral dialogue within civil society. One key action was to re-convene and facilitate a meeting of leaders from global justice organisations and national anti-poverty and equality organisations to discuss links of mutual support and solidarity in February. Further developments in this regard awaits decisions on the UN scenario to follow the Millenium Development Goals. Claiming Our Future has linked with the Society St. Vincent de Paul initiative to bring together civil society organisations working on initiatives around values on foot of President Michael. D. Higgins ethics initiative.
This work has been led by the central group along with working groups on the Declaration for a New Republic, Economic Equality, Democracy, and the Financial Transactions Tax. Nina Sachau has played a central role as coordinator.
Claiming Our Future continues to enjoy the support of Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. This funding has been extended to the end of 2016 when it will cease. Claiming our Future has found a new office space with Comhlamh, the organization for returned development workers, in Temple Bar.
2. WORK PLAN 2015
Four areas have been identified as forming the key focus for the work of Claiming Our Future in 2015. These are the Declaration for a New Republic, Income Equality, Financial Transactions Tax, and Art of Campaigning.
Declaration for a New Republic
Building on our work in 2014, in particular the 'Call for Responses' we will be seeking input into the Declaration from March this year, online and offline. We are producing a series of Future News, News set in a future where our Declaration has been implemented to kickstart the process.
The Declaration will be launched with a website, two videos (1 launch video and 1 Future News) and a toolkit on how to input into the declaration and make your own future news. Groups and organisations will be able to upload their own Future News and make contributions to the Declaration on the website. Claiming our Future will host seven workshops around the country in which the Declaration will be discussed and organisations and individuals will be assisted in producing Future News. The toolkit should stimulate and support further organisations and individuals to respond to the 'Call for Responses' and feedback their priorities for the Declaration. Claiming our Future will offer support in facilitating these meetings.
An assembly will be hosted in November in Dublin to agree on the final Declaration and to make a plan of action on how to promote and implement it during 2016.
Data gaps in relation to high incomes will be explored and addressed. A joint research project will be implemented on this issue with TASC. This will support further work on maximum income and on decreasing income inequality by pressure on high earnings.
An activist training programme on economic activities will be organised to build a community around these issues. This is called ‘Cap the Gap’ and will consist of a series of eight workshopsstarting in March. 'Cap the Gap' is aiming to build and support a group of activist to become confident to talk about and campaign for economic equality. Campaign activities will be organised and supported on foot of the training.
Financial Transaction Tax
The political lobby on this issue will be intensified with meetings with political parties to continue the discussions on Ireland joining the 11 EU countries that are planning to introduce a Financial Transactions Tax. There will be a particular focus on getting commitments into the parties’ manifestos for the next election in this regard. Briefing materials will be produced to support those lobby meetings and future campaigning in particular on the revenue to be expected from the tax and how the revenue could be used. Specific briefing will be developed on exemptions in relation to Stamp Duty.
A public campaign to build popular support for the Financial Transactions Tax will be implemented. This will be an online campaign with a range of creative materials developed on the issue.
Art of Campaigning
A Summer Activist Camp on the Art of Campaigning will be hosted in Knockree Hostel in Enniskerry, County Wicklow from July 3rd to July 4th. A call for workshops and facilitation will be issued in February. Registration will open in March, with 60 people overnight and more day visitors possible expected. A program for turning discussion on social justice into creative action is being planned, including workshops on such as Street Theater, Giant Puppet Building, preparing Media Stunts, Flash mobs, and Video making. Follow up actions will be planned where participants can work together to test out what they have learned in real campaigns.