Irish abroad on #ge16: ‘The electorate has a very short memory’

Emigrants react to the results of the general election in Ireland from afar

Fianna Fáil’s Jackie Cahill is hoisted into the air as he celebrates being elected TD in Tipperary. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Fianna Fáil’s Jackie Cahill is hoisted into the air as he celebrates being elected TD in Tipperary. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

 

The Irish Times invited readers abroad to comment on the result of the general election, as they viewed it from afar. Here is a selection of the responses we received.

Joe Reynolds

Manila, Philippines

I have been living abroad for 26 years, but still have a keen interest in what happens back home.

The general result is not really a big surprise. Once again the Irish electorate has been shown to have a very short memory, with little or no appreciation for the efforts of the outgoing Government to turn a disastrous economic situation around. They appear to have voted on petty personal and local issues, rather than on what would be good for the country as a whole.

Anne O’Donnell

Berlin, Germany

I wish I could have had a postal vote, or even the option of voting in the Irish Embassy. It’s the least the government could have done, seeing as so many had to emigrate after Fianna Fáil ran Ireland into the ground.

I am very surprised to see Fianna Fáil do as well as they did. People seem to have very short memories.

Germans ask me why Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael can’t just form a coalition, considering they are both centre-right parties. They also ask why the Irish punished the ruling coalition, seeing as they are governing the fastest growing economy in the EU.

For me and others here looking on at Ireland’s economic performance in the EU, I think the Irish people and outgoing government can be proud, as they did a great job considering the troubled legacy they inherited.

What obviously didn’t wash with the people was the austerity. The human touch was missing. The “recovery” wasn’t of course widespread, but I wouldn’t go hanging Fine Gael and Labour out to dry over a poorly thought-out slogan.

I don’t understand the public outcry over water charges. How have we never had to pay them until now? I have huge water bills to pay every year in Germany, but then again, the health system is so good here, you don’t mind paying for the water. I think the issue is more about how all these new taxes have started to pile up all of sudden?

Rebecca Jenkins

US

Although I am delighted the Green Party got two seats in the Dáil, I would have loved to see more. I’m sure we all heard about Leonardo Di Caprio’s Oscar speech on climate change on Sunday night. It’s depressing that a Hollywood actor seems to care more about this issue than policy makers on an island likely to suffer extreme damage from climate change. Have politicians and voters forgotten about the mass flooding that happened a few months prior to this election? Did they hear about the Paris talks? The leaders of all major parties have put little time or energy into their strategies for climate change, and this short-sighted thinking could leave Ireland with a massive problem for our children.

The party was also the first to take a strong stance on marriage equality, yet did not get the recognition it deserved for being the initiator of the Civil Partnership legislation, which arguably paved the way for this constitutional amendment. The party also has a strong stance on the need for abortion legislation, and has a strong female voice.

Stephen Curtis
Dubai

I am delighted to see Fianna Fáil return to being a sizable party once again.

I had a great job in Ireland and thankfully never experienced a day’s unemployment in my life. I have many friends that were not so lucky and I saw how they suffered, how their families suffered. I choose to leave Ireland and pursue new opportunities abroad and moved to Dubai three years ago. I hope to return to Ireland one day. 

While the government of 2007 did make mistakes, I think hindsight and history has shown, they were actually more prudent than any of the opposition parties of the day. I think the recovery plan devised by the late Brian Lenihan has been proven to be a success. From the recession Ireland has regained its competitiveness, and that correction was long overdue.

After five regressive budgets by the Fine Gael and Labour party government, Ireland is now facing a two-tier recovery.  More kids than ever are sleeping homeless, our health system is in a state of emergency and the fiasco of the whole Irish Water thing really did insult the common man on the ground.

With so many talented members of Dáil Eireann from Fianna Fáil I believe Ireland is in a better place.

Milo Foley

England

The single transferable vote system is sophisticated but it lends itself now to fragmentation. Localism and tribalism are brought into focus more so than maturity and stability. There are too many independents, too many machine and non-machine candidates on personal, out-of-touch vanity trips. The sight of successful candidates being hoisted aloft and screaming as if they’ve saved democracy from invading hordes of philistines when they’ve barely got 10,000 votes seems more like “I’m the king of the castle… Nah nah nah nah nah”, rather than a desire to make things better for the people of Ireland by becoming their public representative.

A total of 160 deputies for a population of 4.6 million is not mirrored anywhere else in the world in terms of per capita representation. You would think, therefore, with all the public’s woes, that there would be plenty of ears at which to direct problems, and enough brains to arrive at a solution. But no, the gombeen element, the arrogant element and a whatever-you-say, say nothing element means progress is slow.

Nothing in this election will convince observers abroad, whether ex-pats or not, that Ireland is a progressive, transparent nation capable of standing beside any first world country when it comes to applying the mechanisms of democracy. The people have spoken but a lot of it is unintelligible.

Eoghan Hennessy

Sydney, Australia

I’m a 27-year-old Irishman living in Sydney, Australia for the last four years. I am one of the lucky ones that wasn’t forced to leave Ireland in search of greener pastures on the employment front. I had a great job once I finished college, but was looking to get a bit of travel under my belt. A one year trip quickly turned into two, and two quickly turned into four. I started working for a small custom publisher and took each opportunity as it came - never committing to stay here for good, or return home by a certain year.

I have kept an eye on the election and how it’s panned out. All in all, I’m happy with the result that there’s a mix up from the usual. Although it’s very unclear how the next government will be formed, maybe they’ll think twice about constantly slating each other if there’s another election around the corner and the voters have shown they can throw a spanner in the works. They might even get some work done.

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