Monday, March 9, 2009

The thick plot gets thicker

Human history has been a painful and cynical jig.

The Dark Ages, the fall of Constantinople, the Great Fire of London, the invention of folk music - through all his endeavours man has truly perfected the art of making life completely miserable.

But even Nero would have struggled to conjure something so thoroughly tormenting as a local election.

The tedium. The glad-handing. The camp electioneering. The posturing. The intellectual emptiness.

The suffering.

Thanks to our PR-STV system for electing members of the Dail, local government in this country is essentially an irrelevance, and is treated in the halls of power as such.

While local councils should be the first (and most crucial) form of active citizenship, town, county and city councils in this country instead reflect little more than localised versions of the Seanad - launching pads for some careers, retirement homes for others, and a shelf for the rest to stew, refrain and swear.

There are some very good men and women sitting on Limerick City and County Councils. But there are far too many self-important, litigious and inactive cronies whom the politics and systems of our country have allowed to bleed the State dry.

Every five years, we hope that the electorate will toss out this dead weight that claims to represent our interests but does little of the sort.

But so long as local government in this country is by-passed and councillors are left without true, demanding responsibility that would separate the public servants from the leeches, we will continue to vote for the people who bought us a pint, the faces we recognise, the men and women who are incapable.

Or, worse still, we don't bother to vote at all.

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