I recently did an email interview with Adam Douglas from the Green Party. Questions and answers below. I should have more of the younger candidates from a few other parties in the next while here too. Politics needs more younger people contributing by standing for election as well as voting for politicians. People under 30 appear to be invisble in real politics.
Why politics? Isn’t it only for the anoraks? Or is that just the Youth and College Wings?
I think Politics has got a naturally bad perception, as reflected in a question like this, and this is understandably the case. But one must realise that Electoral Politics, the winning and not winning entailed in it, can be simplified to a Game. It just so happens that those worst suited to be effective Politicians often seem to be best at playing the Electoral Game of accruing public support to get seats in various Chambers. That’s Why I’m determined to buck that trend for the betterment of Politics, by meeting people and highlighting faults Whenever I can.
How much of a novelty factor has your age been? Do you get the respect you deserve from people in local politics that are double or even triple your age? How in tune with the younger population are these old fogeys? (My term not yours obviously)
I can’t deny it’s had some novelty value, however much I’d like to! The fact is that many of the radio and other appearances I’ve had (including this) would probably not have come About if it wasn’t for the level of attention the age factor’s Grabbed. But despite this I’m determined as ever that it doesn’t either become or overwhelm my campaign.
With regard to the respect issue, I’ve attended a number of local council meetings since my campaign started, and whatever disagreements I may Share with others on policy issues, I must thank them All for the level of seriousness they’ve treated me with.
On the third issue, I would argue that they are completetly out of touch, but I would like to state that this is not a fault of their ages in any way. There is nothing conceivably stopping an 80-year Old being completely in sync with an 18-year Old. Councillors will naturally look out for as many voters as they can, but as long as there isn’t an expectation that the 18-24 age group will even turnout to vote, then there isn’t Gonna be too much attention Paid to their concerns. If Apathy in my age group disappears, then the things I spend a lot of time fighting for, such as a new cinema for the town, will suddenly get more of a look in. That’s why voter registration will be a key issue for me in the weeks before the supplementary list is finalised
How does a youngfella from Fermoy, going to college in Dublin juggle campaigning to be a real world politician too? If you get in, how will you do it?
I’d imagine my traditional ‘I’ll deal with that if comes to it’ response won’t suffice in this instance! More seriously though, as I once told someone Else, it’s All About Good time management. I’m fortunate to have a mixture of facilitating factors. Firstly, a full-time course that is very light on lectures and second of All, the fact that I don’t seem to find long journeys as much of a Chore as others, in fact they give me a great opportunity to get on top of work outstanding. Ultimately, It’s easily Achievable in comparison to Mary Lou McDonald’s situation in running in a European and By-Election at the same time in June!
How much of a difference is there with local council politics and that of the Universities?
I think to even compare the two would be very harsh of upon local councils, as much as they are bereft of lots of the powers of comparable bodies on the continent. Uni Politics is a Powerless popularity contest at the end of the day.
Once Again it comes back to the Point that if Students (Predominantly 18-24 Age group) voted for the meaningful positions then their concerns would be Addressed in Dail Eireann, in City and County councils and Ultimately, through the Pressure that brings, by university management.
How do you get a win in local politics? What is classed as a win? Is there enough power or control in local councils to change the lives of people?
Politics in a PR System can’t be a zero-sum Game. A win for me will be taking a seat, even if that’s ninth out of nine. For certain candidates expectations will be a lot higher for historical reasons of Pride.
I certainly think there is considerable leverage to Change people’s lives for the better, whatever I may have said Above. Planning is a big one, and in Ireland there has been a fierce Shortage of it!
What are the important things people want addressed of late as you go door to door and what of them can be addressed on a local level?
Parking Charges in the town, the flood & traffic mgmt Plans for Fermoy, and rising unemployment in the area are the ones Absolutely central to people’s minds at the moment and understandably so. If councillors are smart About these, they can get things done, but they still need Govt help at the end of the day to be Allowed to Proceed fully.
We need Greater independence of funding mechanisms so that more decisions can be taken by Elected Local councillors. A lessened dependence on exchequer funding can be Achieved through motor tax, aswell as a levy on second properties. Water Charges will Also have to be looked at in the near future I’d imagine.
Is there an education process with the electorate to let them know where the local issues end and the national ones are addressed?
To some degree there Should be, but I wouldn’t underestimate people’s knowledge of where decisions are made. People are rightly confused when they vote for a local candidate and see his/her decisions hampered by national decision-makers, and by extension when they vote for national candidates and they see their decisions being usurped by directives from European Union institutions.
Do you think being a Green in more rural locations is tougher than maybe in more urban areas? Many Greens come from affluent urban areas than the rural locations or is that just a myth.
I’m afraid there’s no myth About it, we do have more success in cities. Although recent opinion Polls Show our support evening out more and more in terms of Dublin versus the rest of the country. It’s Also key for me to dispel the notion that the Policies of the party would be detrimental to rural Ireland. In fact, we have the strongest record in terms of any party in advocating sustainable rural development
Should there be more accountability and transparency when it comes to expenses?
Without a doubt. The money Claimed by so many TDs and councillors at a time when the country is near to Going under with debt is simply disgusting. But we need to be talking About more than just vouched receipts. The actual number and value of expenses must be Shrunk rapidly and All loopholes must be Closed. And don’t Get me started on committees & Ministers of State!
Should people 30 years out of synch with people under 25 be the ones to come up with ways of getting this demographic out to vote? How can this demographic be enthused or angered enough to X the spot on a ballot paper?
As I said Above, there’s nothing necessarily stopping them, Although I feel someone more their age would stand a better Chance of displaying the relation between Politics and everyday life that’s so badly missing. It’s a difficult question to answer, I suppose the end of the Celtic Tiger will focus young people’s minds on the question of why the Good times have come to an end and possibly encourage a bigger turnout
Is the Senate value for money, is it democratic since it’s populated with mates of whoever was the Taoiseach at the time?
It’s neither value for money, nor democratic, and Should be scrapped if anyone had any sense. New Zealand functions fine with just one Chamber. There’s only About half a dozen senators I have anytime for at All
The Internet really didn’t impact at the last general election, is it making any inroads at the locals this time around?
With every Election, the Internet Grabs a Greater role in Electioneering. The Problem for the medium, and as a consequence my own website, is that the Proportion continues to Grow at too Slow a pace to have a major impact. I hope I’m wrong though!
Tell us about a local politician not from your party that you admire/respect.
One of my own TDs in fact. Sean Sherlock of the Labour Party (Cork East). He seems to be every bit as hard working as his late father. Always happy to make a representation on any issue, and to work to a positive end on it. Also well on top of his portfolio where Agriculture’s concerned