Will Ireland’s politicians ever stop chasing hearses and kissing chickens?

I naturally defer to all those bloggers who are chasing round Ireland in search of wisdom and craic. Nevertheless,  I’ve come to a few conclusions about the Irish general election, seen  from afar.

I’m struck by the disconnect between the campaign and  the realities of the  crisis, the failure to rise to the level of  events. Although a democratic necessity this supposed watershed of an election comes across as a diversion, more like the last hurrah of a generation of Irish rugby  in this season’s Six Nations without the passion and loyalty, than anything new in its own right.

In the main voters made their minds up before this very brief campaign and used it to only to confirm their views. The brevity of the earlier surge towards Labour confirmed their first impressions.

The final dismal leaders’ debate will have little effect on the outcome. If so Fianna Fail led by Micheal Martin would have staged a modest revival and Fine Gael would have plateaued earlier due to Enda Kenny’s clockwork performance.

Mind you, there are too few polls in Ireland to be confident about fine tuned predictions. I haven’t seen anything on likely turnout. Is that ominous?

Persistent divergence over tax and cuts between FG and Labour means no one can really know what they’ll get up to in the all but certain coalition  – including probably themselves – beyond the fact that expectations of change are low. This is comment enough on the spuriousness of the campaign. They should embark on a diplomatic campaign using all the firepower Ireland can muster to follow Martin Wolff in the FT.

Ireland’s fiscal calamity is not a cause of its crisis but a consequence. The big failure was the behaviour of private lenders and borrowers. That is what must be tackled. Start now.

An incidental point.  The campaign and indeed the crisis has widened the political distance(” hard” politics)  between Ireland and Britain while the emotional and cultural gap has continued to narrow ( “soft” politics).

On political reform, I’ve already gone for caution.  Good to see this backed up by David Farrrell among others in Political Reform. ie  Electoral reform is no magic bullet.

The political science consensus is that electoral reform will not fix the problem of excessive localism.

So, if electoral reform is not the solution, what is to be done to reduce the culture of excessive localism in Irish politics? There are things that could be done to try and reduce the demand for this sort of behaviour from our politicians, such as strengthening local government or improving the interface between key public sector departments and citizens.

But much more fundamentally the change needs to come from each one of us: we’re the ones who should force the change in politicians’ behaviour.
• The next time one of us has a broken drain, or a pension problem we should think twice about picking up the phone to our local TD or dropping by a TD’s clinic.
• The next time one of us is in the awful situation of a family bereavement we should tell the locals TDs that they’re not welcome at the funeral.
• The next time a TD comes into our farm we should tell him to step away from the chickens.

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  • Mark

    Congratulations , you are the second person to view this thread .

  • The Word

    Localism’s not so bad when you compare it to the absurd evil of the British and US worldview that sees them interfering in world affairs in the deluded desire to somehow force the world to be a better place.

  • All of Ireland is dysfunctional. All of the Irish cannot take responsibility for their own actions. They want Big Brother to fix everything, to read them a nice fairy story so they can sleep off their hangovers and to protect them from the bogeyman. Jesus wept. And don’t tell me He died for the Irish. If so, God help Him.
    Dysfunctional, irresponsible, immature.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Localism’s not so bad when you compare it to the absurd evil of the British and US worldview that sees them interfering in world affairs in the deluded desire to somehow force the world to be a better place.”

    Yes, and Rwanda was so much fun when we decided to do nothing.

  • Brian Walker

    Elections are not the ideal time for introspection and while self examination is good, it has to go somewhere. Ireland may have slipped back into the late 80s early 90s but no further. By no means all the gains fo the Tiger years will have been lost. This is not the era of coffin ships. Time for a bit of grit and spirit?

  • Greenflag

    ‘Elections are not the ideal time for introspection’

    Indeed . We may slip back to 2002 in terms of GDP per capita and the economy as a whole -ironically about the time the ‘property bubble ‘ took off . This is the country’s first property bubble collapse and no doubt lessons will be learnt . What makes the economic future more problematic is the state of the world economy and in particular that of the USA which with current oil prices rising to dangerous levels risks a double dip recession and a setback to it’s growth prospects.

    We’ll rise again and probably faster than anyone at present may envisage .

  • Cynic2

    Not while there’s a shroud to be waved!!!!!

  • The Word

    Slappy

    Rwanda? What’s there to do? I have a feeling that when we see the bigger picture we’ll realise that Rwanda is preferable to generations of saying bad things about each other, occasionally killing each other and convincing ourselves that there is no God because people are evil.

    And then there was Kosovo, where UK and US forces intervened to send a chilling signal to the Russians and Chinese in the midst of the kind help after ignoring the genocides elsewhere.

    I’m reminded of those big guards who used to sit outside the pubs until the fights were over. At least it showed they has sense.

  • Cynic2

    “Rwanda is preferable to generations of saying bad things about each other”

    ….oh good. Machete anyone?

  • Nunoftheabove

    Word

    Just so that we’re clear, you’d have allowed/ignored/facilitated/applauded the christian massacres of muslims in Bosnia and in Kosovo, would you ? Or do/did you condemn the inaction of evolved, muscular democratic states in Bosnia and welcome the long overdue intervention in Kosovo ? Interested in your pronouncedly christian perspective on this.

  • The Word

    Nun

    Peace is the Christian way, Nun. If people start killing each other, they’re not likely to be Christians or acting as Christians. I believe in the afterlife. Sending people into the afterlife is just silly and most likely counterproductive.

    “Evolved, muscular democratic states” tend to act in their own interests or they’ll be fighting every war going, and many that’ll start just because they know that someone will step in to stop it if they’re getting a hiding.

    Ever been a big man, Nun. You’ll know what I mean. I was once asked by a man in a pub brawl to be his backing. I said I would to get the “trooper” to go away. The fight was called off because why?

    Maybe it was because the other guy thought he was going to have to fight me after he won the first fight. It was possibly a no-win situation for him. Some fights can be avoided if people send out the right signals.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Word

    “Peace is the Christian way”

    – not judging by the history of the christian churches it isn’t. Not even its preachments completely pretend that that’s so. Who brought not peace but a sword ?

    “If people start killing each other, they’re not likely to be Christians or acting as Christians”

    – hat statement simply doesn’t survive collision with the evidence over hundreds of years and well you know it. Get real.

    “Sending people into the afterlife is just silly and most likely counterproductive”.

    – why’s it silly when as you would believe it this miserable life’s just your preparation for the afterlife anyway – wouldn’t those about to be killed be thrilled in one sense to be speeding their passage to a place of their rather limited imaginations and dreams? And how is it counterproductive ?

    “….Maybe it was because the other guy thought he was going to have to fight me after he won the first fight. It was possibly a no-win situation for him. Some fights can be avoided if people send out the right signals”.

    – I’ve no idea what you’re point is here – if there is one at all – and I’d be fairly sure that you’ve very little idea what it is either.

  • The Word

    Nun

    “Who brought not peace but a sword ?”

    The sword of embarrassment. Why do you think there was that crucifixion with Jesus hung up for all the world to see – like JFK – if it was not so that the sword of embarrassment could be flexed definitively on the world you believe in?

    afterlife counterproductive – I’m pretty sure that people like JFK, King, Gandhi are all with God and I’m sure they’ll be able to – and probably insisting that they – make a contribution in this endeavour.

    I’m sure somebody has an idea. Maybe you think I’m lying about my experiences. I can assure you that I’m not. Wars can be avoided, and I have no doubt that peace will be the way of the future.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Nun

    “Who brought not peace but a sword ?”

    “The sword of embarrassment. Why do you think there was that crucifixion with Jesus hung up for all the world to see – like JFK – if it was not so that the sword of embarrassment could be flexed definitively on the world you believe in”

    – I genuinely don’t wish to be rude but that sounds like drunkenness or schizophrenia talking.

    ” afterlife counterproductive – I’m pretty sure that people like JFK, King, Gandhi are all with God and I’m sure they’ll be able to – and probably insisting that they – make a contribution in this endeavour”.

    – ditto

    ” Maybe you think I’m lying about my experiences”.

    – I’m not accusing you if lying – I just don’t have any idea what experiences you’re talking about.

    “Wars can be avoided, and I have no doubt that peace will be the way of the future”.

    – conflict is inevitable however wars will be less likely if humanity can mature itself to the point where it acknowledges the self-evident truth which is that there are no Gods and that it’s harmful to the human species to continue to believe that there are and that they have ethical teachings which we should embrace.

  • The Word

    I believe you got the message, Nun.

    “ethical teachings” ie so long as we’re all making money, who cares? Is that the position? We’re going to ensure you have decidely less people to corrupt.