My Ballot Paper

Remember, under our STV system your vote is never “wasted”, so don’t be afraid to put outside-chance candidates before safer ones.

Let’s get some angry people elected!

While there are some great protest / grassroots candidates running in constituencies across the country, here in Ireland Mid-West-North-Central-Areyoukiddingme we are not well served for misfits. More nutjobs, I’m afraid. In fact it’s almost shocking, looking at the list below, to think that three of these people will be elected no matter what we do.

Here’s how I think we can can make the best of it:

 

2014 European Parliament election

Midlands–North-West

Party

Candidate

Description

Vote I’m Giving

Fianna Fáil Thomas Byrne FF somehow have the temerity to offer us not one but two candidates, when what we actually want is no more FF candidates. Ever. God no
Sinn Féin Matt Carthy Perhaps the ultimate protest vote, in that it’s the one the main parties genuinely fear. Could actually win. Something, but probably last
Green Party Mark Dearey I think it is time to let the Greens back in from the cold. While their support for FF in government was a betrayal, it was more idiotic than evil. Around Four of Five
Independent T.J. Fay He’s a little bit… eccentric. I don’t agree with all his ideas. But at this point, slightly oddball openness is infinitely preferable to another well-managed, professional politician. Infinitely. Number One! To signal that there is a vote for change
Independent Mark Fitzsimons We have not one but two cannabis campaigners on the ballot! It’s not an issue I feel strongly about, but I’ll vote for him for the sake of his honesty. Three or maybe even Two
Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan The original cannabis candidate. And best?  Unfortunately Ming plunged in my estimation recently when he chose to speak up for climate-change deniers. Has just a few hours left to deny the deniers. Otherwise, nothing
Fianna Fáil Pat the Cope Gallagher That someone could serve FF under Haughey, Ahern and Cowen and then go to the people for re-election is just beyond me. I’d write 0, but a FF party worker would swear it was a 9
Direct Democracy Ben Gilroy Mad, bad, right-wing anarchists, treating selfishness like it was a sacred mission. And I’d still vote for them sooner than the major parties. But not really. Nothing
Independent Marian Harkin A sitting independent and noted community worker. Unfortunately, she believes in giving our money to people who sell pretend medicine. I can’t vote for that. Nope
Fine Gael Jim Higgins I will not vote for FG now – not even to keep FF out. Which, let’s face it, was basically the only reason to vote for them. That dance is over. Nada
Labour Party Lorraine Higgins And for the first time since I began voting, many years ago now, I will have nothing at all for Labour. Nil
Fine Gael Mairead McGuinness Even FG aren’t deluded enough to believe they have a chance of electing two MEPs. This is just a political machine exercising its cold metal limbs. Nothing
Independent Rónán Mullen Religious nut. No thanks
Fís Nua Cordelia Níc Fhearraigh Greens who were too idealistic – or perhaps to realistic – to go into government with FF. I like that! They will be my highest party vote. So about Third? Before the “official” Greens anyway.

No On Both Referendums

"Well Connected" - Photo Irish Independent

Turnout is low. Too low.

Late in the day as it is, I want to urge people to get out and reject both referendums. There is a lot of confusion about them, I do not think government has paid sufficient attention to explaining them – in itself a reason to refuse their request for a change – and in particular there seems to be misunderstanding over the judges’ pay issue with many associating it with the exorbitant legal costs, of the Tribunals in particular.

The legal profession does need to be reined in, but this amendment simply has nothing to do with that. It is the fees charged by barristers and law firms that make legal action so expensive. Judges are paid by the state, and the cost of employing them is almost trivial by comparison.

Of course reducing their pay would save some cash. But not a lot, and it would come at the price of a very important principle. What is there to stop a future government, with a bill being tested in the Supreme Court for constitutionality, threatening judges with drastic pay reductions? If this amendment passes, nothing.

The independence of the judiciary is essential to a free country, and we shouldn’t even be dreaming of compromising it.

As for the other amendment, I think the Oireachtas should have the power to hold parliamentary enquiries. But I would rather we did without them for a bit longer than give excessive powers to government. This amendment seems very vague, and I simply can’t believe that broad new powers for TDs and Senators won’t end up being abused for political ends. We need to examine this more carefully.

And as for the Presidency, that’s turned from a fun game into a desperate last-minute attempt to snatch victory from the jaws of Fianna Fáil. You may not be a fan of Michael D., but he’s the only one now who can prevent our next President being a man who, increasingly, looks like a new Bertie Ahern.

Please, get out there and help.

So How Will I Vote?

Presidential flag of Ireland.
First Prize - The Presidential Flag

Great feeling of power here. Because the polls open soon there’s a reporting moratorium. Broadcast media have to shut up about the Presidential election. Print media don’t though. So today, blogging is officially print… If you want to be sure not to break any laws, print this off and only read that.

Two things sadden me about the election. The first is that the man who is within an ace of becoming our next President was until recently a member of Fianna Fáil. To my mind he still is in all but name. The McGuinness ambush may have been rather tabloidesque, but at least it alerted a much larger section of the public to this. It doesn’t matter a damn whether he collected a cheque personally, if it was before or after the event or if the donor had a criminal conviction. What matters is that Seán Gallagher was fundraising for Fianna Fáil right into the Cowen era. Surely that is enough to disqualify him as a prospective President.

The other thing is that the case for Michael D. Higgins never seems to have been made somehow. It looked for a good while that he was simply going to drift into the Presidency mainly on the strength of there being nothing particularly wrong with him. Which would have been a shame really, because he is probably the candidate with the most positives. He’s a nice man with a genuine, active interest in justice and human rights, very much in the mould of Mary Robinson. I believe there are more good reasons to vote for Michael D. than anyone.

OK yeah, I kind of wanted David Norris to win. But that wasn’t for good reasons. More for the entertainment potential. It’s gone beyond fun and games now though. No one but the mild-mannered academic socialist can prevent the next President of Ireland being a product of our worst ever government.

Break The Dress Code

Love Parade 2007 in Essen
Less shirt, more pink

We voted for change. All we’re going to get is a change of clothes.

I will never support any TD who votes to enforce a dress code in the Dáil. A silly thing to be upset about? It is not – because this stands for something.

We voted for people who rejected the uniform. We voted for men who refused to wear suits. We voted for those who did not dress up in fancy clothes to show that they were important. This stood for something.

And now the established parties tell us, “You cannot have those people.

“You must have more people like us. You must have the obedient, the conforming, the place-holders. Your choice is what we say it is. Whoever you vote for, the establishment wins.”

This is the message the major parties want to send us. It is not acceptable.

But It’s OUR Corruption

This is a good one. Michael Healy-Rae, the son of one of our finer politicians, won a ‘reality’ TV show thanks to a public phone-in vote. Several thousand of these calls, it turned out, came from his father’s place of work. As his father is a lone-wolf independent, not exactly popular with other TDs (representatives), it is beyond belief that this was a spontaneous outpouring of support by his fellow deputies. Government phone lines, which are free for representatives of course, were used to call premium numbers – were used in what can only be honestly described as an orchestrated attempt to cheat.

On his father’s retirement at the last election, thanks in part perhaps to the publicity received from the TV show, Michael Healy-Rae took over the seat.

He has now agreed to repay the cost of the calls. Not, he wishes to emphasise, because he admits any liability or responsibility for this wonderful outpouring of support from government offices. Rather, simply so that the House can get over this and go back to concentrating on the country’s real problems.

What he does not understand, or wishes to pretend not to understand, is that the contemptuous abuse of position and privilege to get an advantage over everyone else is precisely the country’s real problem.