New Vision of informed Independents emerges at meeting held by McWilliams
Economist wants candidates from outside the big parties to have access to the same economic information, writes RONAN McGREEVY
BY HIS own admission economist David McWilliams “hasn’t a rasher of organising anything”, but he still managed to attract 75 would-be volunteers to his organisation for the forthcoming election.
McWilliams sent out a post on Twitter looking for volunteers to help provide free economic advice to Independent candidates who might feel underprepared if asked on the doorstep what they would do about the EU-IMF bailout or the National Asset Management Agency.
McWilliams expected five volunteers to turn up yesterday to a lunchtime gathering in Gateway House, in Capel Street, Dublin.
Instead, he got more than 60, along with at least six Independent candidates.
Riverdance producer John McColgan had offered the use of the building to Democracy Now, the organisation which will not now be fielding candidates in the general election.
“I have this idea but I don’t know how to execute it, but I’m hoping the people in this room know how to do it,” McWilliams said. “I need ideas, I need organisers and I need people to step up and say, ‘Yes, I know how this can be done and how it can be communicated’.”
The goal was to make “economics democratic” where somebody with “no machine and no money” could avail of access to the same economic information as a candidate from one of the major parties.
McWilliams said the meeting was “democratic chaos” and that the group would be finalising its campaign over the coming days with the help of the volunteers.
The Independents or would-be Independents who turned up for the meeting were Eamonn Blaney, the son of the former Fianna Fáil minister Neil Blaney, who is standing in Dublin North-East; estate agent Nick Crawford and solicitor Declan Gardener, who are looking to stand in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown; Dublin referee Michael J Loftus, who is standing in Dublin North-West; Paul Doonan, who is standing in Cork South West; and businessman David D’Arcy, who will be standing in Longford- Westmeath.
Blaney told the meeting they would be launching a movement called New Vision (newvision.ie) in the coming days and he had several strong Independents who will unite around four principles – the chief of which will be belief that there should be no bank bailout.
Blaney said that they broadly agreed with McWilliams’s economic views. Armed with the economic advice, Independents could no longer be described as a “ragtag” by the established parties.
Ronnie Tucker, a Stanford University MBA who gives financial advice to employees who work for multinationals, said he was prepared to help out.
“I want to see if we could do anything to get this country back on track from a political reform point of view.”
Afterwards, McWilliams defended his decision not to stand in the election himself. “I never, ever said I wanted to be a politician. I don’t know where it came from. I’ve been told I have no bottle, but I stood up against everybody in the last 10 years and I’ve been sneered at.”
On RTÉ Radio 1’s John Murray Show, Eamon Dunphy said Democracy Now had simply run of time before the election.
“We thought the election was going to be held in March. When the Greens walked it made it too tight of a deadline. We needed time to reflect and organise. It was too difficult.”
Dunphy said it had been a learning experience and the problems of the country would not be going away any time soon. Dunphy said there were too many “gombeen men and gombeen women” in Irish politics and there were “outstanding people” who had offered their services to Democracy Now.
“We have the basis to try and grow the movement and put down roots in constituencies,” he said.