The principal domesticated animal in Ireland is, of course, the voter.
The ruling political families (De Valeras, Cosgraves, Lenihans, Cowans etc) have bred out the unruly instincts through careful use of emigration and developed a docile creature that can be easily herded into the voting parlour every few years and milked for its support. But, the Irish voter is not always placid and can still turn on its handler unexpectedly: De Valera famously got a hoof in the groin when his straight vote scam spooked the electorate and more recently the Irish voter ran amok, much to alarm of the European citizenry, when we voted down both the Lisbon and Nice referendums before being rounded up and prodded back into the cattle truck.
Our drovers now wish to abolish multiple seat constituencies. They argue that their gargantuan intellects are being wasted running errands for the electorate when they could be discussing the great issues of state in the comfort of Leinster House. But remember, Green TD, Trevor Sargeant resigned because he was found to have broken the law, trying to influence a public sector decision (inside the gardai) on behalf of a constituent.
So why not make the entire public service off limits to political interference? Politicians pulling strings for their pet voters are merely seeking favours for one citizen over another. Where is the fairness, openness or accountability in that?
If representations are needed on behalf of a citizen let them be made by professional advocates working for the Citizens Advice Bureaux with recourse to the Ombudsman’s office when necessary.
Our hereditary political cattle dealers have ensconced themselves in a ducal palace, enriched themselves with our money and now want to further dilute what little control we have over them by sabotaging a voting system which has given Ireland great stability in a century of turbulence. Why throw away a perfectly good engine because the exhaust is making a racket when all we need to do is fix the baffle?
A marvelous introduction to the jungle of Irish politics is Gene Kerrigan's 'Never Make a Promise You Can't Break.' This classic work provides insight into how politicians shaft their colleagues, con the voters and suck up to the people who matter. From the basics (How to Shake Hands) through the rudimentary (How to Fake Sincerity) to the complex (How to Accept a Bribe) this book is essential reading for anyone lucky enough to live in a democracy and unlucky enough to have to listen to politicians.
Never Make a Promise You Can't Break by Gene Kerrigan.
Publisher: Gill & MacMillan