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Help! Elections in Ireland – Who should I vote for?

In the past it was simple: Either you were the type who would vote every time (even if it is your first opportunity) or you are a non-voter. And if you are the voting type, then you probably had a good idea who you would vote for.

But after years of “same old, same old” even if the government was provided by different parties and coalitions, people are quite confused this time. Politicians promise the “sun, moon and stars” before an election and afterwards…they totally disappoint. And the shocking thing is that even the ones that we had put our hopes in will disappoint.

If they all disappoint should I even vote or just forget about it?

Yes you should definitely vote, because the people in government will – without a shadow of a doubt – influence your future quite significantly. And if you are not part of choosing them, then maybe your dim neighbour from down the road or the obnoxious guy in your company might have more control over your future than you do. Not good!

Yes, but if I decide to vote, WHO will I vote for?

Ideally you should compare your opinions with the opinions of the candidates in your constituency to know who to vote for. And there is a website that can help you (and it won’t take long). Go to whichcandidate.ie and answer the few questions about your opinions and then the system will compare it with the answers from candidates. The result will not be a perfect guideline, but might help you to find the right direction.

Can you tell me in general something about the parties?

Sure, the biggest problem in Irish politics is that there is too much of the same. So for eternity Fine Gael (FG) and Fianna Fail (FF) were the only two big parties and they were just alternating in government. FF was in government when the economic crisis happened and a lot of people swore that they will never forget that and will NEVER again vote for FF. But surprisingly (or maybe not), a few years of Fine Gael government (with FF’s full endorsement – they called it a “Confidence and Supply” agreement), now suddenly people will consider voting FF again just to get rid of FG.
Another unexpected thing happened with the emergence of Sinn Fein (SF). Sinn Fein has as bad bad past, considering their direct involvement in the Northern Ireland conflict and the ongoing criminality through their IRA links. But people are so disillusioned by FF and FG that they seemingly are prepared to gamble the house on Sinn Fein.
SF will definitely change things more significantly than any continuation of the FF/FG governments will, but the big question is if that change is not too risky.
“Protest Voting” (to punish a former government) is always a dangerous move, because the party you voted for could win the majority and consequently be in power for the next 4 years.

What about the other parties?

Labour and Greens were part of previous governments and didn’t necessarily impress back then. The Social Democrats and People Before Profit were not yet involved in governments before. All four will never become strong enough to lead the government, so yes, you can vote for some of their candidates, because a coalition will probably be a good thing for the country.

So if one of the parties are not so great, should I vote for an Independent candidate?

No, no, no, no!!! Do not vote for ANY independent candidate. IT is very odd that 20% of the people in Ireland are prepared to give independent candidates their vote because the Independents either achieve nothing or they will or they will sell their soul to the highest bidder of the other parties, which will totally compromise them. Independent candidates are MAYBE good for the constituency, but because they are only interested in getting re-elected, they have NO interest in national politics outside their constituency.

Shane Ross, an independent who helped the previous government, achieved great things for his constituency, but was the worst Minister for Transport.
Michael Lowry, who was once a minister and was kicked out of FG, has been described as “profoundly corrupt”. The Healy-Rae Candidates from Kerry are only interested in Kerry gaining from whatever they do. They couldn’t care less about the rest of Ireland.
So Independent Candidates are unreliable, change their opinion depending on who offers them most and would definitely run the country into the ground…as long as their own voters get an advantage.
Do NOT vote for Independents!!! NEVER! ;-)

Thanks for the advice, but I still am not sure who I should vote for!

I know, it is REALLY difficult this time. I could tell you who I would vote for, but you are not me and your opinions might be different than mine, so even telling you won’t help you much.
So, let me just remind you again of my main recommendations: NEVER vote for Independents. Always vote for the party (or parties) you want to see in government, never vote out of protest for a party that you don’t necessarily want to have running the country. Don’t just vote for a specific party because lots of other people say so! Make your own decision! Be aware that all three main parties (FG, FF, and SF) have a bad historical record and then decide whoever’s bad record you can live better with. Is it ruining the country in 2008 (Fianna Fail) or not making anything better in the last 8 years (Fine Gael) or is it the involvement in the killings in Northern Ireland (Sinn Fein)? You need to decide! On the positive side: Maybe Fianna Fail have learned how to do it better after 8 years in the opposition? Or Fine Gael needs more time to fix things better? Or Sinn Fein is a changed party since the Good Friday agreement?


Disclaimer: As you probably know, I am a foreigner and therefore I have no clue anyway (according to some commentators on public news forums), so because of that, feel free to discard my opinions completely. ;-)

Mayor No. 349

Every year, Dublin City Councillors elect a new Mayor and last week was that day again. This would be a relevant event in many cities around the world, but not in Dublin. The mayor of Dublin has a big title (“Lord Mayor”), but absolutely no power to change anything. He will move into Mansion House for the year, will cut ribbons and open shops and has the BIG job of turning on the Christmas Lights in December.

Unless we get a directly elected mayor – and this should have happened years ago – he is just a figure head that we easily could do without. :-O Instead of a mayor, an unelected “City Manager” is running Dublin and he often even ignores what the Dublin City Council wants. “In the interest of the people” is different!!

The new mayor is the 349th one. Mad!

The name of the mayor is Nial Ring. Ring was part of disgraced Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s inner circle in Fianna Fail for many years, but when his party didn’t want to support him when he wanted to be elected as a councillor, he suddenly became a “Independent” candidate. In 2017 he lost his house in Clontarf because he didn’t pay the mortgage payments and had arrears of EUR 500,000, so maybe he is lucky that he can move into Mansion House now.

Dublin City Council: Are they all insane? – Clontarf Sea Wall

There are (too many!!) times when you have to question the sanity of the people that run Dublin City. Last week I wrote about the mess regarding College Green Plaza. Dublin City is definitely involved in that, but An Bord Pleanala was also a significant contributor to that mess.

This week it is getting worse. Much worse!

You might remember a big fight between Dublin City and locals in Clontarf about the flood protection wall that was built last year. The locals wanted to have a low walls so that their pretty views of the sea will not be disturbed and Dublin City banged their fist on the table and said: NO! The “No” was based on the expected flood levels and the Clontarf locals were the ones that appeared narrow minded and short sighted in that conflict. Dublin City went ahead and got the wall built and the locals had to accept.

Fast forward just little while to last Monday: In their January meeting, the Dublin City Councillors decided to LOWER the sea wall now by just 30cm for a cost of EUR 230k below the level that is the national flood level standard to …wait for it…. “improve the view for motorists”. Have you heard anything more bonkers from the shower of City Councillors? But that’s not all! After that it will cost another EUR 300k to beautify the shortened wall. And it is also expected that the wall will have to be raised again in a few years time.

The interesting thing is that Labour, the Green Party, some from Fine Gael and some from AAA-PBP were against the shortening of the wall, but the decision was 34 in favour and 21 against, 3 abstained. In the Council with 63 councillors there are 8 from Fine Gael, 8 from Labour, 6 from AAA-PBP and 3 from the Green party. That’s 25 who should have been against it (obviously the parties weren’t able to convince their own councillors).
And what parties are on the INSANE side of the house? It is Sinn Fein (16), Independents (11), Fianna Fail (9), Social Democrats (1) and Workers Party (1). Remember them when the next election comes along in 2019!

At the time of writing this, the minutes were not yet published. so a list of names who voted for and who against is not known and the above paragraph is a guess from the above referred to article in TheJournal.ie. If you want to watch the webcast, you can find it here and look for Topic No. 6.

80st Birthday!! Ignore it or celebrate it?

Imagine your granddad or grandma had their 80st Birthday today! What would you do? Would you ignore it or celebrate? Would you at least ring them? Buy them (or make them) a cake? Or get a Birthday Card for them?

Interestingly, this week as Ireland’s 80st birthday and it was duly IGNORED! :-O That’s odd isn’t it? Maybe we will have to wait another 20 years until it is worth celebrating? Or maybe what happened 80 years ago wasn’t …..hmmmm…. “juicy” enough to talk about it today?

On 29 December 1937, the Irish Free State became “Ireland” or “Eire” and the Irish constitution from 1922 was replaced by a brand new constitution. There was a referendum about that new constitution on 01 July 1937 and after a majority voted in favour of it, the new constitution came into effect on 29 December.

This means that formally, the Ireland we live in today was born on 29 December 1937 and consequently celebrates its 80st birthday this year. But who is celebrating?

If you want to find out what celebrations there are, you ring some family members, right? Well, I did that! On 29 December, I rang Dail Eireann, but they seemingly weren’t even aware of the birthday and the PR person had left already and won’t be back until next year. Then I rang the Fianna Fail Headquarter and they are all on holidays until 02 January. Then I tried to reach Fine Gael and they are also on holidays until 03 January. I also couldn’t find a newspaper that wrote about this birthday. :-O

So, I guess grandma/grandpa is just unlucky to have a birthday at the wrong time of the year!?

Or could this birthday “ignorance” have something to do with the fact that the current government is from Fine Gael and Fine Gael was the party that campaigned for a NO at the 1937 referendum? They were totally opposed to the new constitution, which was promoted by Fianna Fail??

Let’s ignore any possible reasons and wish: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ireland! ;-)

Minister of Finance’s “Me Me Me Me!” at Budget Speech

On Tuesday the Budget 2018 was announced by the Minister of Finance Paschal Donohoe. He was talking for about 1 hour about the state of the country, the future of the economy and about all the changes that 2018 will bring regarding taxes, charges, social welfare, minimum salary, subsidies etc.

It wasn’t an exciting speech and it is certainly not an exciting budget and since most aspects were already “leaked” beforehand, there were very very few surprises. As it seems, everybody will get a bit more money, but it is a tiny amount of money so no big parties!

Richard Boyd Barrett from People Before Profit is not someone I usually agree with, but in this case he was spot on. He said “This is a budget of crumbs.”

The only thing that got my blood boiling, but I will write about that another time, is the nonsensical sugar tax that will be introduced in April 2018.

Today, though, I want to point out another odd thing. Why is it that all Finance Ministers suffer from an ego-syndrome when they announce the budget. The current minister is not the first one that constantly talked about “I will….”, “I have decided…”, “I am increasing…”, “I am allocating….”, “I am providing….”. What is this nonsense?

No Minister of Finance makes these decisions on his own. He needs to agree them with the Taoiseach, other ministers, coalition partners and in the current government even with the Fianna Fail opposition and before all that, the whole work was done not by the Minister but the employees in his department. So would a “we” not be more appropriate than the constant “I, i, i,….” or “me, me, me, me” focus?

Politicians are odd animals anyway and nearly all are power hungry beasts, but the budget speech is a special ego trip every year, it seems.

I know you will not click on this link. ;-) But in case you want to read the whole speech, you will find it here.

 

 
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