Sunday, March 16, 2008

the dail and us

the fact that we need to go to the bother of contacting a t.d in order to visit our national parliament, says an awful lot about our ambivalence towards it. if we cared sufficiently about this bureaucracy, we would have shouted and roared and it would have been changed long ago. but politicians are more than happy for us to remain in slumber, and there's little chance of it changing any time soon. in the next opinion poll it would be interesting if the public were questioned about whether they are as exercised as the opposition about the interminable dail holidays.

on the off chance you see Oireachtas Report at some point of your life ( I'm finding myself watching it more; say a prayer for me ) you ll notice that the average t.d doesn't think that attending is all that important. that's because in the clientelist political culture we live in, with the impediment of multi-seat constituencies, your local joe teachta dala is hard at work trying to deliver for the pork barrel of his constituency. direct competition for various parts of the country not being confined to the gaa pitch! one of the few t.d's who had a more catholic view of a member of parliaments workload, Alan Shatter, wasn't thanked for his curious moonlighting as a legislator when he lost his seat in the 2002 election.

Economic journalist Marc Coleman was guilty of some hyperbolic titling when he named his recent book The Best Is Yet To Come. when the small print was examined it emerged that this rosy future could occur if we undertook reforms, like a root & branch change to the electoral system. some of us wont hold out breath and expect the best anytime soon!

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