It’s so easy to be very cynical about politics. I have often slipped into that mode myself in over thirty years of covering it. However, this week I would be urging people to go out and vote on Friday.
Anyone could give you a thousand reasons why people should not bother to go to the ballot box. Throwing your hands in the air and declaring “sure they are all the same” or saying “I have no interest” is a cop-out. The reason that we have elections is that people have their say every so often – and I am of the belief that people should go out and exercise their franchise. It’s not like it’s a big deal, or hard to do.
There is not much point in sitting up at the bar counter giving about politicians of all parties and none if you pass up the chance to go out and vote. In fact I would completely dismiss the opinion of anyone who could easily have gone out and voted and who just didn’t bother, yet still feels they have a right to complain.
I listened to an RTE Radio report on Monday evening that listed the jaw-dropping amounts of money that MEPs earn and the expenses that they are entitled to, and it would make your blood boil. But the system we have is working reasonably well, and whether we like it or not, Europe is where it’s at. With Brexit coming down the line, we may as well have a say in what’s going on.
On the local scene, people know most of the candidates who are standing in their area. County councillors don’t have much power but they can have some influence on what services are available in their own local area and throughout the county.
There are many big issues to be considered, such as the farming scene, rural Ireland, climate change, housing, homelessness, education, emigration and crime. If ordinary people do not go out and have their say, standards among those whom we elect will slip even further – and God only knows it’s poor enough as it stands. So go out and vote on Friday, regardless of whom of what you decide to vote for.
This Saturday there will, as usual, be huge interest in the election count, and particularly at local election level. The fact that the GAA have fixed the Roscommon v Mayo Connacht semi-final match for Castlebar on Saturday evening at 7 pm means that I will be missing my first election count in 30 years.
Some of the most exciting (and longest) days and nights of my career were spent in places like the stage in the Dr. Hyde Centre, The Mall in Longford and the Travellers Friend Hotel in Castlebar. You can complain about the length of time that it takes to complete these counts, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It adds to the tension and the excitement, and all human life is there.
There is excitement and cheers, bitter disappointment, recriminations and tears. There are opinions, rows, speculation, tallies, agreements, speeches, surprises, transfers, recounts, endless cups of coffee – and exhaustion at the end of it all.
To be honest, I will be sad to miss it all, but if Roscommon could ever win in MacHale Park, it will make it all worthwhile! Good luck to all concerned this weekend.