Get out of my way, I’m a special advisor!
Of course, it was only a matter of time before we imported them into Irish politics. “The West Wing” and British politics made sure of that. Today, there are huge swathes of the British Parliamentary Labour Party made up of people who went from college to trades union or NGO to parliamentary assistant to special advisor to safe seat in a former mining district, without ever having to meet a human. It’s not like there aren’t people who work in the NGO sector who don’t believe in stuff, but these guys were just passing through.
In Ireland, he doesn’t even have to do the NGO thing. He can go straight in, and soon you see him sweeping down the corridors of Lenister House or Kildare House, folder under an arm, checking Politics.ie on his (taxpayer funded) smartphone, or plotting his next “We got ‘im!” at leader’s question time, like it all matters to anyone outside of the Leinster HotHouse. Looking into his face, it must be how a wild dog looks into the eyes of a domesticated dog, and sees how he’s turned. He’s one of them now.
The money’s good, especially for his age, and it’s almost like a drug dealer giving the first sample free. By the time he reaches a serious political height, he too believes sincerely that surely no one could work for less than €127k? Sure, how could you get by?
The recent development, and by far the creepiest one, are those who have gone even one step further than their UK counterparts, who actually want to be ministers. The guys who have realised that being a TD is a huge amount of work for little actual power and constant public abuse. A special advisor, on the other hand, gets to whisper in the ministerial ear, actually shape policy, and gets paid just as well, if not better, and doesn’t have to go on The Frontline and listen to the cattle mooing angrily at you. Send on one of those, what are they called again, you know, the little people with the worried look on their faces all the time? Oh yes, backbenchers. That’s the one. Send one of them on. I’m too busy. I have a country to run.