Written by Lucky Khambule on 7th October 2019

Today I’m off work to recover, recharge and reflect on what just happened this Saturday. On what message did many people said by just showing up at this grassroots event. I must say #Masiconference was just of a kind, the reaction and the comments from many people that are used to different kinds of conferences, this one just turned out to be exactly what we thought it would be.

I have that say a big thank you to our solidarity partners who worked tirelessly for over a year planning for this evening. It all started with our fundraising even last December where many of you made that event so much success. Then came the Glencree weekend away in Wicklow where many of you again stopped everything just to do the MASI work of planning and thinking ahead. That weekend also shaped our submission to the Justice joint committee in May this year. All your efforts do not go unnoticed.

Then came the submission itself, where many of you from groups, individuals and organisations made your submissions to add your voices and called for the direct provision to end. Our friends and comrades from the north have been in full support of our campaign, Housing 4 All graced our conference by their presence as well.

Coming back to the day, the day wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for those late night planning meetings going this way and that way trying to get everything done. It was you our members from the centres who would sacrifice your comfort of staying at your base and sleeping, instead you travelled long hours just to be in our meetings, from Galway, Waterford, Bray, Tipperary, Monaghan, Limerick, Longford, etc, thank you for that.

We also work with individuals that have their day job, you have sacrificed a lot of your own productive time and dedicated it to MASI during our planning session, we don’t take that lightly at MASI, without you, nothing could be achieved, so as our solidarity partners, we recognise you all equally, you know who you are, I am referring to you. All speakers for the and the moderators, thank you for doing such a great job. My highlight, the teenagers session, that’s our future, you could all see how bright it is for those three young ladies. Thank you girls.

The journal came just as an idea and it was a short notice too, but hey, as they say, where there is a will, there is a way, the team worked hard to get it out in time for the conference. Thank you to all of you who contributed with your brilliant articles to the MASI Journal 1, to the designers and also to the editorial team.

Thank you to Siptu for the great support for us to use your resources and even provide us with staff for the day, your solidarity support is helping us move forward as we challenge the proper right to work for all.

As I leave you, big thank you my friend and comrade Anne Mulhall, you are amazing, it’s such a joy working with you. For five years you have been supporting of struggle to the core with great understanding of what our goals at MASI are. We can’t thank you enough.

Let’s continue to organise, mobilise and agitate, we have a bigger challenge ahead, let us break the barriers that keep us from understanding each other and work for the common goal. The only way to concur the enemy is for us the ordinary people to unite and be together.

Best of luck to Bulelani today as he tackles the tribunal hearing today. We will share his fantastic keynote speech from the conference later today.

Lucky Khambule, 7th of October 2019

Photos: Deirdre Quinn