Ciaran Cuffe on blogging in Ireland…

We’ve arrived at the Digital Hub and are preparing all the tech for the day ahead. Good to see Green Party TD Ciaran Cuffe’s Op Ed in this morning’s Irish Times gives decent play to some of the Republic’s top bloggers. We have over 100 people coming this morning, from bloggers, to journalists, politicians and academics, some coming from England and fair number coming down from Northern Ireland. And we hope there will be a fair amount of debate online afterwards.

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In the United States, political bloggers often break the news. Markos Zúniga, an immigrant from El Salvador runs www.dailykos.com, a blog that dissects the issues of the day from a liberal perspective. Here in Ireland Richard Waghorne promotes market-based solutions on siciliannotes.blogspot.com and recently joined an Irish daily as political correspondent. Richard Delevan’s sicNotes describes his musings as “a straight shot of socio-political blog with a surreal chaser, from a stray Yank in Ireland”, and also writes for the print media.

Some blogs such as tuppenceworth.ie are collaborative efforts, allowing a handful of columnists their own input. Interviews tend to be more candid in the blogosphere and I was chuffed when United Islander asked me for my views on issues of the day.

The Taoiseach’s recent problems over payments have been dissected in detail on blogs as each nugget of knowledge came to light. Sarah Carey in her GUBU blog discussed his tears last week during that television interview. Simon on Dossing Times undertook some rapid detective work on Bertie’s donors. It’s always useful when others do the Googling for you! The IrishElection site is a compendium of Irish political blog postings and is less partisan than Politics.ie.

A new generation is even finding blogging a bit old-fashioned. Young adults are using Bebo and MySpace to talk to the world. These sites provide a template where you can upload songs and images and provide comment boxes and scribble pads for users and viewers. The Youtube site allows anyone to post videos, and no doubt will be watched for the best and worst of party political broadcasts. Of course, knocking on doors is still at the heart of political campaigning. According to recent research, personal acquaintance with the candidate is the most important determinant of party choice, along with the family’s political background. That study even has its own blog on Irishelectionstudy.blogspot.com. I’ll be blogging the election, whenever it happens, but I’m already knocking on doors!