Will reality hit home in local elections?



I could say that most of the contentious issues the public have been enraged about in the run-up to the local elections don’t particularly affect me, given I am in the autumn of my years. But I would be wrong to take such a stance.

Let’s do the checklist.

Housing: the shortage of homes and the cost of such are again going through the roof. Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, each time I hear him rolled out on RTE, doesn’t seem to know what the plan is, if indeed there is a plan – although he will argue differently – and the rest of the crew, and the Opposition, just spend their time shouting down each other.

And still the homeless Irish continues growing, unabated, 13,531 plus and rising – 4,000 of them children. So much idle land in State hands, social housing not within every one’s reach, excessive levies against potential builders, the shortage of such what with apprenticeship ‘restrictions’. In the end the target of building houses is simply not being met. Those looking for one should move further afield, or join the brain drain.

I’m alright. I have my house but increasingly feel under pressure to trade down from my four-bed in which I live alone. I would be happy to do so – if only to de-hoard – but the finances for such just don’t add up.

Immigration: if all we seem capable of doing is moving dozens of tents from one end of a canal to the other, and there is a complete lack of facilities in towns and villages – another election issue in itself – where the State is placing asylum seekers, then we really need to say, Halt! We’re full up. We just don’t have the infrastructure. And, anyway, why the years of delay in allowing qualified migrants into the workplace? They, for the most, want to contribute. We could do with some of them in our undermanned hospitals.

I have been there, twice in 2022. My Night Of The Living Dread On A Trolley. Yes, I have private insurance but my tale of 17 hours endurance is too complicated to detail here.

People, some mere teens, are literally dying because of staff under huge duress – repeal the employment moratorium now. Another €500m. thrown at health since January, to no avail.

With ageing and its accompanying frailty I don’t want – ever – to go back into hospital and I live in fear of being shoved off to a care home that years later will be found utterly wanting.

Add to the mix, 8,000 Ukrainian pensioners to live on €38 a week.

There’s the lack of access to specialist care for children with special needs, many held in ‘detention’ for years, according to the Children’s Ombudsman, and the CAMHS south Kerry scandal – and those who purport to govern and look after us, those we vote into power, talking over each other over Claire Byrne or Pat Kenny, without showing an inkling of the dire straits we are in.

With being a nation of not much more than five million people, it shouldn’t need a miracle to fix things. Get the civil servants off their backsides and don’t just talk the talk.

Inflation is unavoidable given the global scenario. I’m okay. I am on my own. Seldom more than one light switched on at any time, and the heating subsidies were a great help. But how about a young couple, one a primary school teacher, the other a nurse, with two children aged under 10 who, being children, need constant warmth and food in their mouths? I can’t imagine how they are coping, never mind the crisis in childcare.

Meanwhile, there’s the European elections which could mark a turning point in EU politics. The European Parliament has traditionally been a progressive force in EU policymaking, often pushing for more far-reaching ‘solutions’ than the council. This dynamic could fundamentally change, with the power balance expected to shift in favour of more ultra rightwing forces.

But, even without a turn towards a Eurosceptic majority, the outcome will determine the direction of policies decided by the Parliament and shape EU politics in the next five years. There’s also the question of Ireland potentially losing its ‘veto’.

Let’s be careful what you wish for – vote for. I detect a lot of apathy out there. But vote you must if you wish to see some semblance of democracy. Where every Irish citizen has a roof over their head and food in their belly. And are healthy and safe.

Miracle, indeed…

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