The irrelevence of Irish political parties.

Having attended two political public events in the last week, one common feature which struck me was how irrelevent the current political parties are to the debate. They have the power, there’s no question of that, but what was striking was that in conversations about issues, on everything from the economy to energy supply to immigration, die-hard members of parties either could not participate in the discussion, because they could not seem to understand the issues, or did not wish to voice an opinion because that was, surreally, seen as some sort of hostage to fortune.

FF seem to spend their time out manouvering each other, and FG spend their time wishing they were as sucessful as FF. That’s it. Do you really think they are having in-depth debates in either party on the issues mentioned above? The worrying thing is that it means that nearly 75% of our national parliament (our two main parties) are made up of people who aren’t really interested in how the country is run, but are there because it is a good job with a pension. It’s like having a doctor who isn’t really interested in medicine. 

Most Irish people aren’t ideological. They tend to have both right wing and left wing opinions on issues, and Irish parties have always recognised that by being centrist. But we have now reached a situation where the main parties have effectively stepped out of politics to avoid alienating people, and are now not part of the discussion as to what sort of country we would like to be.

Would we be better off giving Fianna Fail and Fine Gael their own play-parliament to call each other names in, and have a seperate parliament for debating political ideas? Oh, and before anyone from FF or FG start listening their policy issues, a challenge: Will you let me give you a list of policy questions to be answered, on issues that are normal to be debated in other democracies?

5 thoughts on “The irrelevence of Irish political parties.

  1. Pingback: An Irish liberal party - what about a progressive caucus instead | Daniel Sullivan - he’s a little political

  2. You say:

    “The worrying thing is that it means that nearly 75% of our national parliament (our two main parties) are made up of people who aren’t really interested in how the country is run, but are there because it is a good job with a pension”

    No, they are not interested in the kind of meetings you describe.

    I find this kind of commentary, which pervades my social circles, more than a little silly. The people in the Dail got there by getting votes, and they will only stay there if they continue to appeal to voters. Their careers live and die by knowing what the electorate wants. No-one else has the same vital interest in being right about that.

    Just ask yourself how often the chattering classes get the election results right. I have been watching them since 1969, when they were sure that Labour would double their seats, only to see them come back with less seats. FFS the media are usually wrong even about the turnout percentages !

    P.S. I’d love to see those questions too (but won’t be sharing them with FF !)

  3. Interested to hear your list of policy questions. Can’t promise to speak for the party (FF) but I’ll certainly give you my own answers. Hopefully they won’t be too divergent.

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