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Brothers in austerity

• This Remembrance Sunday is of particular significance to all of us.

Conservative estimates put the number of Irish who died in World War One at around 60,000 -- two Irish men killed every hour, 24 hours a day, for the entire duration of the war. That's an appalling loss of life out of an Irish population of three million.

Around 60,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam. The Americans, however -- with a population approaching 300 million -- commemorate their dead and feel the loss of their sons and daughters keenly.

Approximately 200,000 Irish fought in World War Two. The purpose of remembering their sacrifices is not to glorify war or combat. Rather, it is to contemplate the causes of war and to ensure we understand peace.

The causes of the last war can be summed up in one word -- austerity. From Syntagma Square in Greece to the suburbs of Dublin, ordinary families are suffering under the grinding weight of austerity policies, despite the universal acknowledgment that austerity does not work.

The seeds of the next conflict are currently being sown across Europe and beyond.

This weekend, I would ask for a broader debate about our current fiscal and social crisis.

The arguments of economists are facile in that they ignore the human misery and suffering associated with their sterile metrics. Simply put, austerity is a threat multiplier.

The progression from civil disobedience to civil disorder, violence and anarchy is surprisingly rapid.

In this crisis the Irish people are divided by a toxic public discourse that pits public against private, young families against pensioners and so on.

This weekend we should contemplate the sacrifices of our brothers and sisters who gave their tomorrow for our today.

We should follow their example and unite as a nation and say no to austerity.

Dr Tom Clonan, Captain (retired)
Booterstown, Co Dublin

Irish Independent