herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Why do so many TDs try to get elected to a Dail that's so disappointing?

Peter Fitzpatrick
Peter Fitzpatrick

Former Louth football manager and Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick has announced that he will not be standing in the next election - the reported reason being that he failed to make much impact in the Dail during the past four years.

He's a member of a rapidly growing club of politicians who appear somewhat disillusioned with the office to which they were elected. Some of that club - like Fine Gael's Peter Mathews and Fianna Fail senator Averil Power - had issues with parties. But for Fitzpatrick, like George Lee before him, the sense of powerlessness is not limited to political grouping.

Not for them the quick shift to independence, rather the complete departure from politics.

It makes you wonder what they thought would happen when they sought their seats.

nagging

Irish politics is about providing the solution which offends the fewest people at any given time. Achieving that is a mire of compromise, consensus, persuasion, pressure, networking and nagging.

Mostly we talk about that as if it's a problem. As if more authority and executive control provided better government. The evidence would suggest they don't - America's binary system of rolling conflict is not one to emulate. Nor is Singapore's effectively single-party state. Nor is Russia's quasi-dictatorship.

Nor should we look back through rose-coloured spectacles at previous Irish one-party governments with strong concentrations of power.

Democratic government is messy, slow, difficult and complicated. It also works. Maybe that needs to be made clearer to candidates, so they go in with open eyes. Bismark's line is clearly not quoted enough to new legislators: "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made."

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