Saturday, July 11, 2009

The woes of the first time candidate

A FIRST time candidate in any election has a lot of growing up to do. You have to be a quick learner and have some street smarts. However one thing is that people can’t blame you for wrong decisions in the past. This is to your main advantage.

What’s it’s like for a first time candidate

Machiavelli says: “One must be a fox in order to recognise traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves.” The first time candidate will see enemies both within and outside his/her chosen party. However Insider would say to the first time candidate that bouts of paranoia are quite normal and not a sign that you are going insane. There are people out to trap you and take advantage of your naïvety every step along the way…that’s Irish politics. You have to deal with the media who can give you great coverage one week and ignore you for the next month.

You have your photo on thousands of leaflets, then you begin to talk about your political self as a kind of new identity. You may even begin to talk about your self in the third person. At this stage it is time to get a grip before your friends tell you to “cop on”. The truth is that most candidates’ election leaflets will go into the green bin or the fire two minutes after you drop them in the door. Is it a waste of time? Certainly not say well-seasoned canvassers. “You have to get your face out there” and “You have to become known” is their battle cry.

Every one has advice for the first time candidate and most have problems for them to solve. In stressful times such candidates feel they are on the verge of entering a religious preaching order. You know if you do get that seat you will have to sacrifice time with family, friends, and your beloved hobbies to pursue political ambitions and serve constituents.

Your friends and relatives think you have lost it. ‘”Why would anyone put themselves through such an ordeal?’ they ask. Some friends will then keep a distance in case they would catch a dangerous bug if they got too close to you. But all is not lost, there are some brave friends and relations who will take pity on you and give you the support you need. Insider would remind candidates however that inwardly they will still think you are a bit mad.

“Why are you running?” a woman asks you at a door. You give the usual answers like you’d like to see better traffic management, better social housing or you want to see all potholes filled in. She has a look on her face, which says, “I have heard all this before”. You try convincing her you mean what you say and thank her for her time. No vote there you are thinking, I’ll have better luck next door.

Seasoned canvassers, from other political parties, will wish you well. They are sincere, they are eying your number twos as they expect you will be knocked out in the first round.

Politics is not the road to sanctity. You were warned.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

There should be more women in Politics 1

I would not call myself an out and out feminist but I do feel that there should be more women in politics. As we represent 50% of the population it is not too much to ask for a modern society that we should have 50% representation in politics.
So what is the problem?
Well, I can only talk about my own experience as a Labour Party candidate in the Local Elections here in Galway. Men have the advantage that for the most part they are involved in sport. Granted not always on the pitch but even from the side line they can get to know hundreds of fans from the local clubs. At election this is very important. Because name recognition out weighs hard work on the ground. Being part of a GAA, Soccer or Rugby club is important in getting your name out there.
One woman candidate I know was involved in a lot of community activities, parents and residents associations yet her name was not "out there" so she did not poll well.
Politics in Ireland is not about understanding the needs of the electorate it is about getting them to vote for you. There is a difference and there is not brownie points for finding that out on Polling Day.
First of all you have to have money. Don't believe the anyone who says that money does not matter, they are either naive or the belong to the opposition. Mind you your main opposition will come from running mates from your chosen political party. Women have become equal bread winners in the 21st century family but despite this they do not have the same access to ready money men have. When it comes to divorce or separation they are left with the children, the mortgage and the dog while the man drowns his sorrows in the pub or in the arms of a "young one".
Despite what modernists say women are tied down with family matters. Politics is the last thing on their mind when they have an hour to spare at the end of the day. Soaking in a hot bath often being the priority. Men on the other hand will escape out the door to watch their favorite team dressed in the latest kit.
He will certainly back the pub owner when he puts his name the hat for the local elections or he will make hundreds of casual friends should he take the risk himself.
On a whole women have less casual friends than men. You never see women going up to a women she had never met before and start to talk to her about the Premier League. It just does not happen. This is where men have the advantage over women when it comes to politics. They have a universal language which is sport. This is important when it comes to getting votes. Votes and how to get them is a numbers game. You won't get elected unless you are up there in the high numbers.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The more things change the more they remain the same

Given the at least half of the electorate did not vote in some areas in the Local Elections, how much of a mandate do politicians really have? The majority of people who don't vote are between the ages of 20 to 35. Maybe it is because they do not believe that voting changes anything.
Some non voters like jilted lovers say that there is no point in voting because they say all politicians are the same. But are they? There are the ambitious who see politics as a way to power, guys with money people looking for extra status, aging sports or former celebrities who always pull in votes and a few idealists who against all odds get elected but never get real power because they don't compromise like Joe Higgins.
Real change will only come when voters change and ask "What can this candidate do for our society not what can they get for me?".
Many of the people who were homeless 15 years ago are still homeless today. The residents of large newly built housing estates across the country are without basic amenities? Will the results of the Local Elections change things for them? Will they now be deafened by the old mantra "The money is not there"? Time will tell.
While fortunes are spent on Wind turbines very little money is being spent on building and maintaining up to date sewage treatment plants. Raw sewage will still go directly into the sea at some of our more scenic towns like Cliften. Anti-pollution laws are not enforced so the Corrib is dying. Tax relief for Wind Turbine Research is like money going to re-event the wheel when Scandinavian countries have been at this for decades. This money would be better spent on protecting our Lakes and Rivers. People on the dole would do such work "just for a few dollars more".
On the canvass one would imagine that some politicians were responsible for everything good in your area. But it is the Taxpayer who funds the City Council who in turn administrates Housing etc.
It is very helpful to have a Councillor to plead your case when individual civil servants won't listen. But Councillors do not get you, your sister or daughter the house, medical card or mortgage income supplement. It is either your taxes or those of your relations who have paid for it. One should not forget this.
You get all of the above because your are entitled to it, if you are not entitled no Councillor should be able to swing things in your favour. One wonders if the French saying applys to Irish politics.
"Plus can change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change the more they remain the same)"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The need for greater public debate in society

Has the media has played an adverse part in encouraging open debate by excluding the participation the public from most of political programmes? Gay Byrne who one would have to say was either loved or hated by the public was never afraid of the dissenting voice in his audience. So in last few weeks Late Late Show I was more than surprised when Pat Kenny livened up the show with discussions on topical subjects such at "Crimes of Passion", mind you the audience was not asked to participate!

Having to be politically correct is part of the problem, it stifled debate. Anyone who has watched televised Party Political Conferences for instance will know what I am talking about. Most parties will present their best looking and articulate candidates for this session to show they have vibrant young people on board. But where are the not so good-looking characters who have a local accent who often inspire lively and colourful debate? Where is the teasing out of the complex issues contained in the Lisbon Treaty? Why are we not discussing where the EU is heading and who is in the driving seat?
We are committed to the EU, our MEPs and Reps at the EU Parliament have an obligation to inform us how they vote on issues. Most Irish people don't know that our MEPs have to form alliances with various European Parties to get a strong voice. It is easy to know what the Party of European Socialists stands for but what do we know about the other EU Party alliances? Some MEPs go to ground and only surface when their seats are under threat, Brussels is where most of our laws are now initiated so we should not treat MEP elections as an add on to the Local Elections, they are too important for that kind of attitude.
Time to bring back and encourage open debate in every stream of life otherwise politics will have no meaning for the man in the street. It will be something your are into or not into.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Do we want the Celtic Tiger back

While there are some people in Ireland overpaid for the work that they do I do think cutting people's wages is worry and one wonders where it will end.
Have we been living beyond our means? Well, if we are borrowing for holidays and luxury items then we have. But then weren't we encouraged by the Banks....as Michael Lynn said 'the Banks could not give me enough'. The fact that he owes the Banks €80 million is saying something.
How can one man owe so much when the man in the street is harassed for owing a few thousand euro?
That is the Ireland that was and there are many members of the Irish Government say it is only a matter of time till we get back to Celtic Tiger times, but is that what we want? I don't think so it is time to get back to real economics not virtual economics. This means that we live according to our means and that we put money aside to take care of the sick, the elderly and our children.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We must develop Green Fingers

The pension levy proposed by the Government is just an other heavy weigh on the backs of the PAYE worker. In accepting this or the 1% levy we are almost accepting the guilt for suspect practices by the banking sector. We are like the battered woman who blames herself for the brutish behaviour of her husband or partner.
They (the politicians, economics and even the media) say we should all don the Green Jersey and take some pain. Pain for what? When Bankers behaved like high rollers on Sunset Strip in Las Vegas we are to celebrate a virtual Paddy's Day an month earlier with less money in our pockets! You must be joking, Do we have "Fools" written on our foreheads?
If I don the Green Jersey it will be for all the people who are tied into high mortgages for the next 40 years. Rather than putting on green garments we should get Green Fingers and start sowing some potatoes and vegetables so we can become self sufficient over the next few years. With modern technology we should be able to overcome the disadvantages of a wet climate to be an exporter of fruit and vegetables.
Despite the over building mania we have had there is still have plenty of land which has been growing nothing but weeds which is a sin. My grandmother from Ballyloughane lived by the motto "Waste not Want not". We still have a lot to learn from her generation.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

White Collar Criminals rob the poor

Governments all over the world are now bailing out Banks, they say they have no choice. But have they? And what will it achieve? Even the experts don't know or cannot predict the economic future of the world, so where do we go from here?
In the local Dunnes Stores today an old age pensioner came up to me and asked me if her pension was safe. I told her that she had no need to worry. But has she?
The white collar criminals have stolen our future and they may never see the inside of a jail. Most of the money owed to the Banks will never be paid back especially the millions given to developers for land speculation.
Many projects which would benifit Galway may now have to be abandoned. Maintenence of minor road and walkways will be put on the long finger. We could survive all this put we should insist that the very young or the elderly in society should not loose out

Monday, January 26, 2009

Galway needs more investement in Water Sports

There needs to be a more even distribution of funding by Galway City Council for all sports which should include water sports like canoeing, rowing and kayaking.
Galway at one time was one of the leading cities in Ireland for rowing. The initial investment in rowing is costly. This means that unless rowing clubs get their share of funding first class Rowing teams from Galway will be a thing of the past.
The Corrib and Lough Atalia are under used as recreational amenities. In any other city in Europe this would never happen. With Galway hosting the Volvo Ocean Race stopover from 23 May - 6 June it is an opportune time to explore the endless possibilities we have at our doorstep.
In a city surrounded by water every child or young adult should be able swim and row. The love for the rivers, lakes and sea is in our blood, so why not make the most of it.
Are people like Jeanie Hackett, a lifelong supporter of Galway Rowing Club, looking down on us from the Great Rowing Club in the sky, cheering "Up Barr a Chaladh" as the lads come back after winning an important race.
Hundreds of young Galwegians today have never been "Up the Corrib" in a boat. How can you love or appreciate your environment if you are not familiar with it?
For both locals and tourists Nuala would like to see new initiatives to reverse the decline of water sports in Galway.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Padric O'Conaire real home is Eyre Square

I have visited the stature of Padraic O'Conaire in the Galway City Museum and thought it looked so out of place. For a man (a poet and writer) who was a wanderer all his adult life it does seem to me that he would walk out of there if his legs came to life.
To visitors and locals alike his place is in Eyre Square. Conservationists believed that to leave the statue in Eyre Square left it open to desecration and environmental deterioration. They may be right but is it like storing your beautiful set of china in the attic and never allowing your guests or family to use it in case even one cup was broken, this is Mrs Bucket like type of thinking. Art is pointless unless the creator shares the results of his or her talent with as many people as possible. Statues by their very nature are meant to inspire us as we go about of daily life by their beauty, serenity or truth.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Up Labour

A my local church St. Augustine's this morning I have a funny experience. It was a months mind for one of the parishioners so the church was full. After the opening prayers the priest looked around for someone to do the Readings so I as often oblige when the regular readers are absent I responded when the priest gave me the nod.
When I finished reading and was returning to take my seat I heard a voice say "Up Labour" when I looked in the direction of the voice I found it to be a long life supporter of the Galway Labour Party.
I was embarrassed as I am sure his voice could be heard plainly by all those standing near him.
I would say the majority of people present would be supporters of present Fianna Fail Government Party.
Worldwide Galway has the reputation of being Bohemian but politicswise it has always been conservative.
Latest figures showed that 15% of Galway people are non-Irish. So will Galway be a melting pot of cultures or will it be multi-cultural? It's hard to know.
Multiculturalism does not really work as when people stick steadfast to their own culture you can get a divided society. The most cross culture marriages are in the UK yet it has major problems with integration so what is the answer?
Do we aim at the "melting pot" idea going for secularism or do we try to facilitate the cultures of people of the "New Ireland"? Just take the questions of school, the law of the land entitles different denominations to set up their own schools.
In the not too distant future I see that many new immigrants parents will want their children to taught in schools that uphold Christian or Muslim values, they do not want to see their children absorbed into the drinking culture which is rampant in today's Irish society. They have left their birth countries so that their children could have better future than they had.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Galway in a time of recession

There is always a funny side to everything, in today's Galway Independent there is a photograph showing roadside signs in Connamara and the sign for Recess is changed to Recession.
One can find humour in everything if one looks for it.
Galway has lost some jobs due to the recession but we are still doing well with medical device companies like Medtronics and Boston Scientific so we should not complain too much.
If we could solve our traffic congestion problem we would be all much happier but with 14 or so roundabouts what can you do?
There is something about roundabouts that seem to brings out the worst in people, Galway people are no exception. I am sure there is more cursing and swearing done at roundabouts than you'd hear at the Galway Races in two lifetimes.
The roundabouts in Galway are called after the 14 Tribes(the founding fathers of Norman origin), this begs the question "Was the idea of having 14 roundabouts the City Councils idea of making sure that we did not forget the Athys, Brownes, Deans, D'Arcys....... or did we really need 14 roundabouts? I am of the opinion that it is the former as no small city needs 14 Roundabouts

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GALWAY, Ireland
Born in Gaway City,spent 10years living in Roundstone, Connamara. Passionate about politics, singing and oil painting. Not a great cook but could learn

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