Fintan O’Toole: When reality hits idealism.

Could Ireland's Polly Toynbee have been elected?

Could Ireland's Polly Toynbee have been elected?

Fintan O’Toole’s “Thanks but no thanks” piece in the Irish Times here, on top of David McWilliams decision not to run, isn’t that surprising. When one has been a candidate, one knows those moments, from sitting in pubs with people telling you “You should run!” to that moment of dawning realisation, when you start looking at what it takes to run a credible campaign (Something which I, by the way, didn’t) in terms of money, time, effort and above all, bodies.

The truth is, Irish elections and Irish political ideas run on seperate tracks, and often never meet. Fintan and David both had to ask themselves did they have not only the resources outlined above, but also the sheer physical stamina to knock on doors and encounter hundreds of people who could not give a damn about the bank bailout but want to know why you won’t buy €50 worth of raffle tickets for their son’s soccer team, and why you are an absolute bastard if you don’t.

Having said that, there is a big question: We keep saying that people can’t get elected solely on national issues, but has anyone ever tried? The smart money has to be against it, but it sure would have been fascinating to watch how they would have gotten on. Shane Ross, given where he’s running (where The Irish Times is the local paper) is in a unique constituency anyway, but just imagine what it would have said for the country if Fintan had been elected in Dublin North West? Imagine the signal that would have sent about speaking down to the voters.

Alas, we’ll never know now.   

7 thoughts on “Fintan O’Toole: When reality hits idealism.

  1. Michael, my own experience with constituency work was that there are different levels. There are the bone idle f**kers who expect politicians to do everything for them (and still probably don’t vote for you) and then there are the clueless who genuinely struggle to understand who they should ring to talk about their bins in the council. You actually feel morally obliged to help the latter. It’s also not helped by the fact that most Irish people, rightly or wrongly, feel that ringing a local official without some sort of “in” is a waste of time. Sometimes they are right.

  2. Soft Left Eh ?

    Part of the problem, then, not a part of the solution !

    And before you ask, the solution begins with piano wire & lampposts (for the use of) outside the Dail.

    Kind regards

  3. Agree with him or not, but I’m fairly sure Joe Higgins ran on a fairly national platform in Dublin West – not the first time, when he used opposition to water charges as his launchpad, but after that. And for a while it worked. I happen to think he’s been seriously missed in the Dail in recent years: he asks very pertinent questions, even if his own answers to them can be rather impractical…

  4. Jason

    I was thinking of running for the next Dáil with the following manifesto. Fancy my chances?

    1. I will not put purely local constituency interests before national interests.
    2. I will not help you to jump a queue for spurious reasons.
    3. I will not help you get something to which you are not in principle entitled.
    4. I will not hold “clinics” – here are my contact details – please make an appointment to see me, or send me an email, if it’s important.
    5. If you want assistance on a purely local government matter, well here’s a list of all the local government representatives. Don’t bother me about it….. 6.I will not support any Government measure which will increase expenditure significantly, unless it is clear where the extra taxation will come from.
    7. I will not claim for reimbursement of any unvouched expenses.
    8. I will publish online all the expenses I have claimed.
    9. I will not go to your funeral (or that of any member of your family) unless I actually know and like you.
    10. I will not perform the opening ceremony for your shop/pub/hairdressing business/laundry/….
    11. If you break the law, I will not plead with the Minister, or with officialdom, for clemency
    12. I will not accept additional payment for serving on any Oireachtas committee.
    13. I will spend almost all my available time on legislative and parliamentary matters.


  5. David, in fairness to him, he’s soft left and nowhere near as infuriating as Ms Toynbee.

  6. Don’t know the chap, but if Mr O’Toole really is the Irish Polly Toynbee, then the country has been saved a lot of grief. Dear Poll & her metrocentric ilk ; those for whom if it doesn’t happen to folk within the scribbling circle of Hampstead (oh yes, & Tuscany – natch) then it doesn’t happen at all.

    Kind regards

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