All politics is local?
Sir, – One’s heart goes out to the many TDs who have in recent days expressed their hurt and bewilderment at not being chosen as Ministers, particularly as it is clear their concern is not for themselves or their careers but for their inexplicably overlooked, undervalued constituencies.
And yet it could be worse. Our neighbours in the United Kingdom, it seems, must put up with being governed by a cabinet not one of whose 22 members hails from Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Glasgow, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester.
To take the bad look off things I suppose, the Greater London area (population 8.9 million) has one representative at the cabinet table, Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
This would seem to leave well over 30 million people pretty much without someone to speak up for them where it counts. Surely an intolerable situation. I expect there will be an uprising soon. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Thousands of people will lose their jobs, businesses, income and prospects in the coming months. Those elected TDs who are volubly drowning in disappointment at perceived lack of promotion would do well to remember that they have guaranteed pay and benefits for the term of this Government. We did not elect them to whine and complain.
Many are called, few are chosen. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The row over the lack of geographical balance in the Cabinet has clearly been overdone – embarrassingly so in some quarters – but it points to an issue that’s too readily overlooked – the concentration of power in Dublin.
The answer to improve the governance and representation of the regions outside the capital, however, is not trying to balance the cabinet geographically. That should have little bearing on it. The job of Ministers should not be to represent their locality or give it preferential treatment, but to serve the entire nation in the best way they see fit.
Instead, to lift up the regions meaningfully, more powers should be afforded to ramped-up local authorities. Currently, Ireland has the least local autonomy in Europe.
Directly elected mayors with executive functions would be a good place to start.
But devolving other powers to local authorities – including the ability to raise revenues and spend on services such as health, education and infrastructure – could narrow the regional divide and give communities a meaningful say over their own futures.
For government to work effectively, voters need to see and feel the tangible benefits of it. One does not have to be the most astute follower of politics to appreciate that voter disenfranchisement poses a real threat to democracies.
Therefore, those complaining about a lack of regional representation have a point. They are just searching for answers in the wrong place. – Yours, etc,
Sir. – Children throwing their toys out of the playpen and the creches haven’t even reopened yet. – Yours, etc,