The cynics amongst us often say that nothing ever changes in Irish politics. It isn’t true. Change does happen in Ireland, just very slowly. Having said that, here are ten things that haven’t changed from the day I first entered active politics in the 1991 local elections.
1. Bizarrely, people still vote for opposition politicians who promise them less painful solutions to current problems.
2. Most Irish elections (local, European, presidential) still don’t matter that much to Irish life.
3. Individual politicians still talk about political reform as if it has nothing to do with them.
4. Abortion and neutrality are still issues that we refuse to confront directly.
5. Local government is still primarily a crèche for aspiring Dail candidates, with opposition parties calling for something to be done about the power of county managers, and governments giving them more power.
6. The dominant political party in the country is still a moderate conservative party that believes in minimal change.
7. Politicians still insist upon avoiding changing the social welfare system in such a way as to allow citizens to get their entitlements directly, despite the availability of technology to allow it. Who gets a TD to help them book a flight online?
8. Most Irish politicians still spend their time calling for other people to make decisions, and regard it as a good day’s work.
9. Demanding a full scale comprehensive review is still regarded as a policy.
10. The oddest things still become big issues, like septic tanks. Remember the rod licence? Or TV deflectors? Or breeding bitches? Meanwhile the big issues like billion euro bank bailouts rumble on untouched.