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By Michael Mulcahy
It’s the final week and the countdown to Saturday February 8th when we the voters go to cast our vote for whichever candidates we want to represent us in Dáil Éireann.
In my opinion this election campaign has been full of contradictions, with Fine Gael criticising Fianna Fáil for a range of policies and views even though they were glad of their confidence and supply commitment for the past few years. Fianna Fáil criticising Fine Gael for failing to deliver for the people even though they were effectively an arm of the government during their support period. Other parties promising to deliver the undeliverable and often the undesirable. Independent candidates promising to redefine the lives of the people and the nation even though they most likely will have little or no ability to do so. And then there are the leaders of the parties. Leo being labeled autistic by one of his own and doing a double think on his youthful drug taking, Micheál saying he didn’t agree to a rent freeze even though his party did on his behalf and throwing his office staff under the nearest passing bus to try and get out of it. Mary Lou wondering what this past thing is all about and telling us all to move on, Eamon looking to flood the nation with wolves and making every village share a horse and trap, Brendan seeming to have amnesia on the memories of how his party was in a government that destroyed them and most of us too, Richard saying that ordinary is a decent thing but that a decent think may not be ordinary and Róisìn and Catherine seeming to side with anyone that will side with them. As for Peadar Tóibín and his party, well it seems like he’s not being invited to any party. Are the leaders as full of contradictions as their candidates or are the public just fed up with what appears to be waffle, spin, more waffle and more spin.
Politics isn’t for everyone and political life certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. I admire anyone that puts themselves forward for public office, if they do so for the right reasons and I believe that the majority of our public representatives enter politics for the right reasons. As to whether they stay in it for the right reasons once they get a taste of it is a question that can only be answered by them. However, the job of a TD is a well paid one with salary and expenses coming in at around €170,000 per annum with the salary making up €96,189 of that. Ministers and anyone higher ranking can expect around €184,000 to €208,000 for the Taoiseach. Are they all worth that? And bear in mind that we have 158 of them currently with an annual pay and expenses bill of close to €30m
So in this final week of canvassing for our politicians and our wannabe politicians, we have to ask the question as to whether they and the political system has exhausted our trust and patience or have the people just accepted politics for what it is? What is it? Well, it’s possibly best defined as being somewhere very close in resemblance to the oldest profession in the world…