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So what’s the suss with representation and how much does it actually matter? Glenn and Steph sat down with Senator Lynn Ruane to try and tease out some of these questions ahead of the release of her autobiography ‘People Like Me’ later on this month. Lynn’s journey to Trinity College, her ascendancy through its representative ranks and eventual election to Seanad Éireann are an inspiration to many. Part of the Civil Engagement Group of Senators, she is tireless in her efforts to speak up for the voices that are not in the room; be they those who have fallen victim to drug addiction or the pitfalls of the Irish prison system.
Few discussions seem to irk the powers that be more than discourse on social class. The band-aid has somewhat been ripped off in recent weeks with Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and his colleagues in Fine Gael struggling to shake off the ‘posh boy’ label that has been put on them.
It begs the question of just how adequately politicians can work on behalf of groups of people whose life experiences are completely alien to them. Should it be of more concern to the rest of us if the same small sections of society fill up a majority of Dáil seats? Or can private educated children of doctors and lawyers actually work on behalf of people from disadvantaged backgrounds?
Bringing social class to the fore can also challenge the lazy narrative that simply getting up early enough in the morning is all one needs in order to succeed. It doesn’t seem to dawn on Varadkar and Co. that if you’ve been dealt a bad hand in life, hard work alone may not be enough to help you improve matters for yourself and your loved ones. All too often we seem to stop short of evaluating the structures and barriers that are invisible to some but defining for many.