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Enda and Co could learn a thing or two by listening to ordinary people

Politicians are often criticised for misjudging public opinion.

Water charges might have been a bit of a slow burner, but they clearly hadn't detected the shift from irritation about another bill to full blown outrage.

Is it really that hard to figure out what people are feeling?

Well, most people's perception of how others are feeling comes from the people they hang out with.

And politicians, while they're supposed to represent everyone, actually hang out with powerful decision makers, well paid people, broadly middle class, educated and with money.

Like senior civil servants, insiders and other politicians. It's inevitable they have a very Dail-centric view of things.

I guess it's actually hard, if you're the Taoiseach, to really get a sense of what people are feeling if you haven't really got the time to spend with ordinary people to talk to them.


Of course, the media is meant to reflect the overall mood. But sometimes all the columnists and editorials and bloggers, sometimes even Joe Duffy, can't quite reflect exactly how people are feeling.

Sometimes the viewers, the listeners, the readers have to do that themselves.

That is why Donna Hartnett's letter, published in the Irish Independent this week, captured the mood of a nation that seems to elude politicians.

While not everyone agrees with her and many feel she's in a better position than they are, Hartnett said it like it is for her.

In doing so she reminded everyone that amidst all the bills and pressure, the choices that really matter are the ones that our children remember us for.

And, looking back, while we may not remember the details of what was said and done, we will how those different choices and decisions made us feel.