There’s a weird No Man’s Zone that exists in Irish society. On one side, you have learned academics and political activists and notables writing articles in papers demanding changes in our political system. This group has widened recently, as more citizens start to pay attention to how we got into the state we’re in. Then we have, on the other side of the Zone, our legislators, the people with the power to change stuff and at the same time a belief that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a system that elects them.
In the middle, we have the No Man’s Zone, where the change activists and the legislators have to meet, and yet no one is sure how to do it. How do we make these bastards do what we want them to do?
We start by deciding what we actually want. The specific measures that a small group of reforming political activists decides what is needed. Who are they to decide, this reforming elite? I’ll tell you who: They’re the same sort of people who decide that taking over a biscuit factory and the GPO or storming the Bastille or nailing a statement to the door of a church will get what they want.
Once they set out what they want, they then decide who can give it to them. Probably a handful of marginally elected new TDs whose brains reverbrates with the phrase “Must keep my seat. Must keep my seat…” They then take a lesson from SPUC. Yes, SPUC, one of the most effective political campaigning groups in the history of our state. SPUC basically managed to convince enough TDs that if they didn’t deliver, it would actually effect their ability to be reelected. They convinced them that the Irish people overwhelmingly wanted action on abortion. As the turnout of less than 54% in the referendum showed, that was bollocks. But SPUC took the lead and got what they wanted, and that’s what a reforming elite has to be willing to do.
Don’t assume that the political system will reform itself, because it won’t. It’s incapable of doing so. The only thing most TDs understand, and respect, is the stick.