On Friday, a major event will happen in the lives of nearly ten people I know. Some are friends, some I know just to say hello to. But on polling day, some will see a career launch which may lead all the way to the cabinet. Some will see a lifelong ambition crumble. Some will see their council seat cruelly taken from them by the people. Whatever happens, these are good people who have worked very hard to get to Friday, and who did it yes, out of ambition, but also out of a belief that maybe they can make some sort of difference. I’ve no doubt that it is a genuinely held belief.
The thing is, I don’t believe it. I’ve watched the depoliticisation of Irish politics continue, where winning elections becomes more important than what happens the day after, and a political system which is constructed to prevent significant change, and to paralyse those who attempt to change it.
I have no doubt that some of those ten people will arrive in the council next week, with fresh ideas, and encounter a system which will grind them down, and funnel them into the old way of doing things to get anything done.
I do not believe that these elections will effect my life in any way. My Local Property Tax will continue to not be set locally. I still will have no say over the County Manager, who actually decides things. The mayor will continue to be a political transition year doss to be passed around amongst councillors, a chain, a nice picture in County Hall, your name on a few plaques and the odd rock and a few quid. Run the county? What, in 12 months? Leave that to the grown ups.
If there was a chance that maybe Joe Higgins or the People’s Front of Killiney were about to seize control of a council, maybe that would be different. Perhaps so many independents will be elected that the councils will be radicalised. Perhaps. But I doubt it.
I’ll vote on Friday because some good people I know are running, and they need my vote. They are good people and it’ll be a wonderfully joyous day for some of them when they hear that magic phrase that they are “deemed to be elected”, and who doesn’t want to see their friends happy?