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.