One of the key messages of Gearóid Fitzgibbon’s campaign is to put an end to our habit of selecting our politicians on the basis of personal often imaginary favours done for the public. Gearóid is proposing to close down the local constituency offices – work done here would be better carried out in the Citizen Information Service.
After the recent Tipperary MidWest Radio election debate (Tuesday February 16th), Gearóid spoke with Tom Fitzgerald, volunteer chairperson of the Canon Hayes Resource Centre in Tipperary Town, and a legend of community development. While not publicly backing any party, Tom told Gearóid that for years he has endorsed the closing of the constituency offices. “Muintir na Tíre were the original group to propose the set-up of the Citizen Information Service. This is where people should get information, free of any favours or political string-pulling.”
Tom Fitzgerald has been doing community development work before it was even called that. In the 1950’s he began working with Canon Hayes, founder of Muintir na Tíre. “Fr. Hayes referred to community development as ‘practical Christianity’. He began his work in 1923, after the civil war; he kept peace and good relations between people in communities. The two firmly believed that change comes from the bottom up. They opened town halls and community offices in communities which brought them to life.
“He was a bit of a revolutionary to the rest of the Church, they should have given him freedom…and time”, recalled Tom Fitzgerald during his chat with Gearóid.
In 1957, Canon Hayes died, and Tom Fitzgerald continues his work to this day. Tom Fitzgerald also looks up to Pope Francis and his work; he sees that he is doing the same kind of ‘practical Christianity’ that Canon Hayes used to talk about and do.
‘Community development’, ‘practical Christianity’ or whatever name you call it is all about the people, what they have a right to and taking action at a local level so the people can achieve this right.
Gearóid Fitzgibbon is passionate about people’s right to free information without the middleman. To show his commitment to this, he will donate 35% of the €87,258 T.D.’s salary to the Citizen’s Information Centre if elected. According to Gearóid, “People have a right to the information they need. To make it a right and not a privilege, we need to replace these constituency offices with improved Citizen’s Information and Advocacy Centres – and put an end to these taxfunded vote-getting machines.”
Ahead of our 2016 election campaign launch on February 11th, I am asking voters in Tipperary to reflect on the type of leadership that they want in the new and unified county.
The re-unification of the county offers an exciting opportunity for Tipperary to make a fresh start. Tipperary should take up once again the position of leadership in Irish political and cultural life – to match its performance on the sports field.
Irish voters tend to select their representatives to their national parliament on the basis of personal favours. The neglects any considerations of where the country is going, and is what has made our politics such a failure over the last 15 years.
Regretably, Tipperary has come to embody this trend over the last few years, against the county’s own better tradition of leadership in Ireland. You only have to think of Tipperary’s central role in the national movement – when Ernie O’Malley, Sean Treacy and Dinny Lacy were on the run during the War of Independence, it was the homes of Tipperary that kept them going – the people in those safe houses, were the backbone of the Irish independence movement. At great personal risk, they put themselves on the line for the long term future of their country.
Tipperary has also been central to other organisations for example the GAA, the pioneering community self-help group Muintir na Tíre, among others.
I am asking Tipperary to take up its attitude of leadership again, to look at where they want the state to go rather than what they can extract from the state.
I am delighted that Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan will formally launch our campaign at the Excel Centre in Tipperary at 7.30pm on Thursday 11th February. All are welcome. Eamon’s own own forebears hail from the Glen of Aherlow.
“I am delighted that Tipperary is putting forward such a strong local candidate. There is a space for a strong rural Green voice which can positively influence issues of planning and the rural economy. I think the electorate will be interested in Gearoid’s views on local energy and other matters”
Calling it like it is will be a key part of our campaign.
Far too many of Irish politicians are focused on trying to convince people that they are actually doing something for them. Some are worse than others. Our PR STV system reflects very well the popular choice but leads to national elections which are fought over local issues instead of where the country should be going. The crash show us the consequences of this taking the eye off the ball.
While the financial crisis was going on, TDs and ministers were spending huge amounts of time and taxpayers money sending letters to people for issues that are not the business of national politicians.
We’ll be campaigning in Tipp to abolish constituency offices (vote getting machines for politicians), and investing in the Citizens Information Service instead. We should also cut TDs pay and the over generous pensions. If elected I will give 35 percent of my salary to the Tipperary Citizens Information Service.
Long term though, to get national elections fought on party policies, we’d need a partial list system like that advocated by David Farrell – The Irish Political System, Head of School of Politics and International Relations, UCD, at a 2012 event in Tipperary.
The last government was elected with huge mandate for political reform, but unfortunately did not deliver. The recommendations of the Constitutional Convention have been largely ignored, apart from the marriage referendum, and some late tweaking to Dáil procedures. The referendum to abolish the Seanad without any Plan B was not any kind of reform – and rightly rejected by the Irish people.
Codding people into thinking that you are doing them favours is not a proper political system. Read more on my proposals here.