Londonderry Trades Council veteran Eamonn McCann turned the pejorative ‘culture of entitlement’ criticism on its head at a strike rally in Londonderry on Thursday blasting: “Damn right, we’re entitled to it.”
Mr McCann was the last of several speakers at the rally in Guildhall Square.
He said: “The trade union movement in its organised strength has the potential to lead the entire working class in a battle for decency, in a battle for equality, in a battle for the things that are our entitlements.”
Referring to persistent accusations from various quarters that benefits recipients have developed a sense of ‘entitlement’ within an over-generous welfare state he said: “Damn right, we’re entitled to it. The age of entitlement began, these words began to be comon currency in politics on these islands in the 1940s, the creation of the welfare state, when people began to believe: ‘We are entiled to a decent health service; we are entitled to a decent education system for our children; we are entitled to unemployment pay, in a society that can look after those most in need.’
“I believe in a culture of entitlement. I believe that we should all get together to say: ‘We are entitled to what the unions in the public sector are asking for; we are entitled to defend every job; we are entitled to resist every cut; we are entitled to stand together.’
“And if we do that the masses of the trade union movement, with the working class communities around them, then there is no power in the world and certainly no power in this little patch of the world that can stand and resist us.”