A Cynical View on Irish Politics?

Most of us have, at some point in our lives, heard the advice: The three things you should never discuss with people are politics, religion, and money. I’ve often thought that the Irish never got the memo on such a rule, because for a country which almost makes a national sport out of referenda and elections, we often discuss the actions, statements, and flaws of our politicians. We’ve seen debate on whether or not certain manifestations of local or national government should even exist; in Ireland, those debates have recently ranged from having directly-elected city mayors to whether or not we abolish our Seanad. We so often hear dismissive statements in the pub or on the street that politicans are “all the same”; they’re “only interested in lining their pockets” or “getting their cushy pension” and they’re “all a shower of wasters”. The same lines have been exclaimed by frustrated citizens for generations, yet rarely is an alternative to the situation proposed, let alone one agreed upon.

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Ní Bheidh AthGhaelú Éasca, Ach…

Ó thús na gluaiseachta Gaelaí, nuair a bhí grúpaí áirithe ag ullmhú agus ag impí ar thacaíocht an phobail ar son an neamhspleáchais, bhí ról cumhachtach ag an teanga, a cuid litríochta ársa agus chomhaimseartha, agus ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta, réigiún a bhí i bhfad níos láidre ná mar atá sí inniu. Bhí cumhacht faoi leith ag an bhfocal “Éire”, go háirithe nuair a chuireadh íomhá Éiru – nó Hibernia – os comhair an phobail mar spéirbhean chróga álainn, í ina siombal náisiúnta. Chuir gluaiseacht athbheochan na Gaeilge neart leis an íomhá finscéalaíoch sin, agus bhí muintir na hÉireann in ann glacadh leis an gcoincheap.

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A Polticial Declaration

There’s no doubt that the last few weeks have been difficult for everyone, but as I’ve written recently, while there are still major challenges and issues to be dealt with in Ireland, we have also seen a boost in community awareness. We’ve made a conscious effort to care for others again, whether that means checking in on our neighbours, calling our friends, or minding our family.

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After This, Let’s Remember How We United

Just before the crisis of COVID-19 hit Ireland, we had been preparing for (and many of us complaining about) a general election to form the next Dáil Éireann.

Many people were unimpressed with the poor state of affairs in different parts of society, and wanted things to change. Housing, homelessness, healthcare, direct provision, and more all needed to be dealt with urgently. Although the feeling on the ground was that the Fine Gael minority government hadn’t acted quickly or sufficiently enough, what voters considered an allowable timeline to implement changes could never be rationally defined.

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A Call to Action for All

To call these “challenging times” as we have seen so often lately, from newspaper columns and company annoucements to emails between colleagues, somehow lessens the stark reality of what is really going on. Sometimes, that’s intentional; an effort to put aside the one news story dominating the world, and try to return to a brief moment of reality. Sometimes, it’s acknowledging the crisis while trying to remain calm, or even optimistic. Sometimes, it’s because we don’t really know what else to say.

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