A circuitous route to an Irish polling station

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station - local and european elections- 23 may 2014 - China Dubai Hong Kong Thailand dublin votingFrom China (where the masses only get to vote for one party) to Hong Kong (where despite promises of universal suffrage to be introduced in 2017, Hong Kong citizens’ hopes of electing their own Chief Executive by one man one vote is diametrically contrary to the principles of China’s one party authoritarian system. In other words the Chief Executive will always be a hand-picked puppet of Beijing) to Bangkok (at 2.00 am on the 22nd of May, as I was sitting on the airplane in Bangkok Airport during transit Thailand’s military was setting in motion the usurpation of an elected Government, its nineteenth Coup d’Etat) in Dubai (which like China has embraced unbridled capitalism without political freedom), before finally arriving on Tuesday 19th May in an Ireland on the home stretch in the local and European elections campaigns, with the majority of people due to vote three days later.

The last time I voted was in the February 2011 General Election. Following the abysmal mess created by the Fianna Fail / Green Party coalition, I had made a decision to join the Fine Gael Party (I still have the official welcome letter signed by local TD Sean Barrett the Ceann Comhairle, or the speaker of Dáil Éireann). I even met Enda Kenny on his whirlwind visit to Stradbrook Rugby Club to drum up the party faithful Over a cocktail sausage he took my business card, put it inside his breast pocket and said he would be in touch in a few weeks to talk about China (It didn’t register at the time that, although he was to become the next Taoiseach, he was merely just another politician focused on the corridors of power, taking the populist line on anything and everything to get into office).

Anyway, never heard from anyone in Fine Gael again.  So be it.

And so to 23rd May.

Should I vote?

Yes. All people have a right to have a say in what is happening in Ireland. The alternative is a China, Hong Kong, Thailand or Dubai. What would happen if everyone decided not to vote? Where would Ireland’s democracy go? Who would run the country? What type of political system would Ireland have?

Does it matter?

Take the France versus Ireland rugby match setting last 15th March in Paris where Ireland, up against a ferocious French onslaught, held on to win 22:20 and be crowned RBS Six Nations Champions.  One Irish voice cheering alone wouldn’t have been heard, but when all those Irish fans who travelled to Paris collectively stood and shouted “Come on Ireland!”, then it mattered!

Perhaps my vote on its own isn’t going to matter, but I choose to cast my vote because I support Ireland’s democracy, our ability to elect the people who govern us, our right to be free, and our right to show the Government what we think of them.  People power.

Almost 100 years ago, in 1916 a group of Irishmen, including my grandfather, Dr. Michael William O’Reilly, and women stood up to British rule in Ireland and declared an Irish Republic. They were opposed by many of their peers. Seven years later Ireland had a free state. Change can happen.

Around the world on a daily basis people risk their lives by fighting and struggling to earn the right a vote, something which many Irish people take for granted, while past generations of Irishmen and women suffered to get us such a right.

Indifference changes nothing.

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station - local and european elections- 23 may 2014 - China Dubai Hong Kong Thailand ireland

Who will I vote for?

It has been a fairly brutal three years since the 2011 general election. Sure after the shambolic financial mess created by the previous Fianna Fail / Green Party Coalition Government, austerity cuts needed to be made.

However, I don’t like the way the country is being fixed. Inflicting crippling austerity, property tax, and water charges, flawed cuts and knee-jerk decisions, instigated by an increasingly aloof Government / political elite, have had a huge negative bearing on the lives of so many ordinary citizens, particularly the middle classes.

I no longer trust the establishment parties and whips that have caused Ireland so much destruction, while Sinn Fein will never get my vote. This time I will have the pleasure of not putting a number beside the Fine Gael and Labour candidates. Instead, I intend to vote for those independent (and People Before Profit) candidates who can really irritate, by constantly nipping at the heels of, the establishment.

It’s time to overhaul what is a worn out political system, but nothing will change if people do not get off their backsides and vote.

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station - local and european elections- 23 may 2014 - China Dubai Hong Kong Thailand

Ireland, a baNAMA Republic?

This Great Little Nation [a tongue in cheek term coined during the heady days of over-indulgence, or credit splurge, marking the Celtic Tiger, Ireland’s 1995-2007 economic miracle] is almost broke: Europe’s economic basket case. People are hurting big time, and are justifiably peeved that their jobs, 430,000 of them, are being lost at an alarming rate. 

It really is stunning how the short-term greed, mismanagement, and incompetence of the Cabal that is Fianna Fail (the majority government political party, or ‘Party of Corrupt Gougers’), the banks and the builders have ruined the country. And now these gangsters are holding a gun to the head of every taxpayer, or every man, woman and child in Ireland to add an additional €15,000 each, on top of their own personal debt, to bail the banks out of their bad loans to the tune of €54,000,000,000….Billions…

This huge amount of ‘toxic debt’ will be handed over to the new National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), thus, we are told, freeing up the banks to get on with the everyday business of being good bankers, giving out loans to the real businesses that so desperately need them.

Loading the people with an extra €15,000 each to pay for the sins of a few is high-handed, dictatorial and undemocratic. It’s also shamefully generous to the bankers. Why aren’t the people of Ireland out in their thousands on the streets demanding that the fat cat bankers and ineffectual politicians who created the mess in the first place are held accountable? They together with the property tycoons, who built the optical illusion, destroyed this country’s economy. So there is no way they should be allowed to dig us out of the mess, especially when the long-term economic prosperity of Ireland is at stake.

But that is exactly what’s happening: the people, baying like sheep let them get away with it.

And when it comes to Ireland Inc’s future economic well-being, what is the game-plan of the uncompromising, pig-headed gang that runs it?  Cut wages, by sucking more money out of the pockets of its citizens in taxes and levies and leaving its people all considerably less well off so they can compete once again in the world’s export markets.  That’s not an economic stimulus. That’s not going to speed up a national recovery.

There are fairer options to the financial crisis that can be implemented. With the Government now claiming NAMA will bring the taxpayer profits within 10 years, it’s fair to scratch your head and ask the question: If the bad loans are so potentially profitable, what’s the point in having NAMA?

Greed for power. Greed for wealth. Power corrupts rational thought and creates a false sense of control, self-esteem and confidence. Ireland’s Government, with its air of self-righteousness has clearly lost the run of itself.