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Phew! What an election, that was fun. It was so long, I drank that much coffee and slept that little my face felt like I was wearing a tea tree peel-away face mask, which is less pleasant than it sounds.
Every election that I’ve been eligible to vote in I have been lucky enough to be working in a newsroom. I honestly feel like I’m the star of an Aaron Sorkin series. In 2011, I covered the Galway West count for a local radio station; I still have the mobile numbers of auld Fianna Fail lads who would give me the lowdown on the tallies. The Galway West count was held in Leisureland. It was weird trying to interview a bruised Fidelma Healy Eames as she struggled to hear my questions over children’s laughter. I remember a buzz filling the room as Michael D. Higgins entered, and he was kind enough to give me an interview. You can hear it here. It was the Frost/Nixon of political interviews done beside a water slide.
You would see the candidates up close, see their hope fade, the light leave their eyes, the steely wall of pragmatism raised by the fifteenth count, the smell of shattered political dreams and chlorine filling the air.
I often felt a lot of guilt on the day, seeing them up close. I wanted to hug them all, even the ones I disagree with politically. This year I was employed to take a humorous look at the election by Newstalk. I wasn’t up close and personal with any politician, I sniped from afar. After an obvious Alan Shatter joke, something inside me twinged a bit. I heard him speak candidly in interviews the week before, he seemed like a nice, intelligent man. At least he is not outwardly anti-traveller like his running mate Josepha Madigan (who nabbed a seat) but he did write Laura, which is hilarious. I posted things and stung slightly with guilt for twenty minutes after.
I see the election as a middle class Big Brother, something we prod, analyse for hours and stretch out until we’re bored beyond belief.
As a young person, I always felt a bit left out by politics. All of my adult life, my generation has been quietly encouraged by my government to leave the country when faced with any problem. Jobs – go to Australia, they’re drowning in bar work down there; mental health – go traveling, sure there’s nothing here for you, of course you’d go mad sitting in watching Judge Judy; or abortion – go to England and never mention this again. It’s hard to feel enthused about a political class that asks me to get my parents when canvassing at my door.
So I go on Twitter and vent my frustrations. It’s not going to topple the government but, to be honest, my real life friends, rural and city dwellers, are so disenfranchised we’d rather talk about our favourite flavour of Yankee Candle than politics. We all like to vent: some people ring the FM104 phone-in show, some like to send unsolicited dick pics, I like to tweet. The fella that caught my attention this weekend was Jack Chambers, the former deputy mayor of Fingal and human embodiment of a Top Gear novelty sock, who lists crime prevention as one of his skills on LinkedIn. He caught a lot of people’s attention on Twitter. Yes, he is young, he has a strong eye brow game (I think they’re dreamy) and, you know what, I like his hair. What I don’t like is that he says he’s consistent on being pro-life on TV, but on the two main websites young people used to figure out who to vote for, he either refused to answer the question on abortion on medical grounds or refused to say he was against a referendum. So he must be consistent – just not on any platform popular with young people.
On TV Jack Chambers is staunchly pro-life. On websites young voters use to inform their decisions, he’s confused. pic.twitter.com/gtXOnE10Op
— Alison Spittle (@AlisonSpittle) February 29, 2016
He claims to speak for young people. How dare he. He’ll never have to pay rent to share a house. He lives with his Mammy and Daddy (who financially backed his campaign) but with that sweet, sweet TD salary he won’t have to consider a bedsit in Crumlin, while his fellow 25 year olds scrape by on 145 a week or on a JobBridge scheme.
I wonder has he ever bought a week’s shopping for himself? Has he ever looked at a box of colour catcher and wondered about the economics of doing a separate wash? Has he ever bought a hot water bottle or a clothes horse?
He thinks because he wasn’t old enough to see a brown envelope that he is different, but the refusal to allow a referendum because he has to be ‘consistent’ to his pro-life views are maddening. He’s no different to any other smug man in a suit thinking that his personal view trumps others’. He’s become a bit of a meme on Twitter, some have cried cyberbullying. That’s because he represents the white middle class lad that comments on the Journal.ie under a name like DevilsAdvocate69, who’s not disenfranchised by the Irish political system. There are so many of them and they will in all probability run this country for a long time. We’ve realised that even our own generation of politicians are just as self serving and as sneaky as the last shower.
All we can do now is laugh. Let us have our fun while you rule Ireland, it’s our only comfort.