Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hope on a spring day

Is fiú focal sa chúirt ná púnt sa sparán.

This is an old Irish proverb which (roughly) translates as: it's better to have an ear at court than it is to have a pound in your pocket. It's a proverb that I think represents all that has been wrong with Irish politics for decades.

On Thursday, I ran into a local man who urged me to vote for John O'Donoghue, a former Fianna Fáil Minister and Ceann Comhairle (speaker of the house) in Friday's election. I responded by telling him that nothing could compel me to vote for Fianna Fáil and their narrow-minded vision of what Ireland can and should be.
Oh, he said. If you vote for John O'Donoghue, the fact that I know him means that I could make it easy for you if you wanted the government to help you with anything in the future.

I sighed in exasperation, thought of the proverb I quoted above and said:
Isn't that exactly the attitude that has got us to where we are today? Isn't that what we are supposed to be voting against in this election?

I don't think my words had any impact on this particular Fianna Fáil die-hard. But it heartens me that John O'Donoghue - formerly a huge vote winner - has lost his seat in my constituency.

It has given me a very tentative sense of hope on this spring day. A hope that the next government of Ireland will move away from the mentality which means that politicians can be bought. A hope that those with money will no longer exert the huge influence they have come to have in political circles. A hope that we will stop equating cost with value. And a hope that Ireland can recover from the impoverished position it now finds itself in, in financial terms and in so many other ways.

Ireland could be great. There are so many energetic people here who are willing to work hard if they feel they have a future. I hope the next government gives them reason to believe that they do.

(I know this has nothing to do with food, baking or chocolate - the most common topic for my posts and indeed the most common thoughts in my head! - but it's been a frenzy of election fever here for the past few days and I thought I'd add my tuppence worth. Normal service to resume shortly.)

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