How the south is getting ahead of Northern Ireland…

You may never have heard of Thomas Byrne. He’s a 29 year old solicitor, who is also a Fianna Fail candidate in Meath East for the next General Election in the Republic. And he’s quietly getting to grips with how to use new media, effectively. He doesn’t have a seat yet, so he can’t really be ‘deselected’. But he shows what, as a politician, you can do to make your relationship directly with the people you want to vote for you with the simplest of new media tools.

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  • Henry94

    Nice one Mr Byrne.

  • Henry94

    But I don’t see how it justifies the headline. You might as well claim Meath-East is getting ahead of Meath-West.

  • Mick Fealty

    IJP is the only politician here (I’ve seen) that is taking new media seriously – even if he needs a better tech platform. Byrne is probably one of the best of dozens in the south.

    Sometimes I worry that Slugger’s success has led to a widespread passiveness in our political class. Or it could be just that our politicians still have no responsibilities to communicate to the public.

  • Henry94


    I wonder if there is any way of establishing if the new media gives a candidate an edge? While it’s nice to see a guy using youtube he would certainly reach far more people who matter to him with an ad or a letter in the Meath Chronicle. Or a leaflet drop.

    The problem as I see it is that anyone looking for politics on the internet already has well established political opinions. So you don’t reach the votes that are up for grabs.

    What the net is good for is organising the like-minded.

  • willis


    I think the politicians still communicate with their public. Until a party or individual comes along who grabs substantial votes from the “other side” we will see business as usual.

  • Brian Boru

    Nice one.


    Very nice bit of work from Byrne.

  • Mick Fealty

    There is always a margin for politicians who communicate well, whether in broadcast terms or online. A good broadcaster is not necessarily going to cut it in this medium: and vice versa. But that differential, it seems to me, is where your advantage can arise from.

    There is a risk. Particularly if you already have a reputation. Expecting Peter Robinson (an avid reader of blogs I understand) to suddenly take up the more informal art of blogging is probably an unreasonable expectation. I wouldn’t expect it from many established figures, as Siôn Simon found to his cost: though Cameron gets full marks for trying, whilst battling against his incumbency position to speak to us as equals.

    Thomas is a perfect example of someone who will grow a presence online from virtually nothing. Get Joe Trippi’s book on the Dean campaign for how it can really kick ass when it finds its purpose.

  • JC

    That should be Eastmeath East!

  • starbuck

    he’s 29 ? jaysus he must have been living the hard life in beautiful Meath

    he should brush up on his Photoshop skills whilst he’s at it- heh heh

  • brendan,belfast

    Mmm i dont know. big effort, little return. and he looks like Conor Murphy.


    I don’t imagine it’s that big an effort for him Brendan, Belfast – besides, if he’s any good he’ll have someone doing it for him.

    Conor Murphy’s a good looking man I’m told

  • brendan,belfast

    i tend to take my own judgements on whether someone is good looking Urguhart – and Murphy aint no political pin up. i hope Byrne has someone looking after his blog alright because he should be spending his time knocking doors. Thats where the votes are.

  • Mick Fealty

    No boys, no. If you can’t spare the time, or you don’t see the point, then don’t do it. Here’s the appropriate lesson from Trippi:

    The internet is reversing the trend of corporate and political packaged communication and restoring good old fashioned writing, communicating to people in an authentic voice. You didn’t have to agree, but when you read an e-mail or a letter from the Dean campaign, you knew there was a real person on the other end.

    After eighteen years in politics, this was a harder lesson for the governor to grasp. His firs blogs were notable mainly for their stiffness, along with lines like, Thank you for your generous support. At one point, Dean was asked to guest blog for Lawrence Lessig, the visionary author and founder of Stanford Law Schools Centre for the Internet and Society.

    It was a big honour, an even bigger opportunity to reach the movers and shakers in the blogging community, and an even bigger risk for someone who really didn’t feel comfortable writing in a forum that is supposed to be equal parts honest, edgy and informed. But one thing I admired most about Howard was the way he waded straight into deep water other candidates avoided.

    If you have to fraud it up, you will get caught out, sooner or later! In any case don’t forget that, increasingly (especially in Meath East), your constituents won’t be at home when you knock. And they may be too tired and hacked off to talk to you.

    But if you blog, you may already be talking to them anyway…

  • Secur O’Crat

    You have to compare like with like. Dean was running to be President of the USA and had a massive team behind him. The Meath gouger hasn’t even a mike or a light man (the kitchen stuff is crap and he should read the youtube notes on video making, which would take a solicitor 2 minutes to read and 3 to absorb). He canvasses a new area with a guy in a cap (up Dev). He should have Trevor Giles, Sean Boylan and that Irish speaking nut from Navan. Maybe even dopey Tommy Tiernan as well. Plenty of curse words, plenty of mention of the great Meath teams of the past, the Meath Gaeltacht, “those f-g b-s in Dublin”, and how Meath is the most inclusive county in Ireland for Poles with a vote and that the only good knacker is a dead knacker. This last statement should be made whilst holding a shotgun beneath a picture of Pope John XX111 and JFK (good Meath men, both) (white mask optional). Also his mug in the awful kitchen scene should be “Up Meath” or better still “f-k the Dubs” (product placement). There should have been an RIRA poster in the background, Paisley in the cross hairs of an Armalite rifle, the faces of the Bruton brothers photoshopped on copulating donnkeys and anything else that would get media around him like flies around shite. Bottom line is youtube is only a line to catch a bigger fish. The youth if Ireland deserve better.

  • Secur O’Crat

    Update: I clicked the “next blog” link on Tom’s blog and got the above. So maybe Tom is going for the trailer trash vote after all. The Dev capped guy does have a dirty old coat after all. Bice one Tom.

  • Secur O’Crat

    He has a long way to go to top this.

  • Mick Fealty

    The quote from above says nothing of scale, rather it’s about developing your own peer to peer voice and adopting a ‘blue space’ strategy.

    If you use that and a bit of playful invention, you can’t go wrong.

  • Harry

    Obviously another gombeen with bugger all to say except ‘get more buses round here’ and ‘this area needs more money’ – about as far seeing as mister magoo. Another local, molly-coddled, 2nd rate chnacer looking to grease along on the inside track.
    Fuck him. Fuck Fianna Fail.