It is very depressing to watch and to feel the surge of hope that came with the General Election die slowly. We are now coming to terms with the fact that those we voted back into Dail Eireann seem to be completely baffled by the result of said election. Meanwhile the media seem to be equally transfixed about who might go into government with who. It’s all part of the game of politics which is great fun until you realise that all the while our country seems to be slipping deeper into social chaos.
My mother, who is in her early 80’s, told me that one of her greatest fears is of having to go to an A&E department. She said it is a fear shared by many of her peers. Imagine being frail and elderly and afraid of our hospitals?
I wonder what fears the 1700 children who are living in hotels have? What robs them and their parents of their peace of mind? The fear that they may grow up confined to these tiny spaces that our government call ‘emergency accommodation’. Some of them have already been there a year or more. Sounds more like a cruel solution than emergency solution to me.
And what of the rest of us, wondering when exactly it will be when we feel the recovery? What the electorate said with their votes is that they understand just how precarious this recovery is. There is much to do before this country is half way sorted.
Meanwhile the men and women of the 33rd Dail are in no hurry to sort themselves out. There is now even talk of another election. As I watched a double dose of current affairs programmes last night I became increasingly fed up. What’s needed is a leader to go in there and knock heads together and tell our precious TDs just sort it all out and pronto… there are major issues confronting this beautiful country and our people that need urgent and immediate attention.
Then I had a better idea. With all this talk of new politics, what if we had no Government? What if we just had the parliament?
We have elected 157 Dail Deputies who have miraculously manged to elect a Ceann Comhairle so what about this? The Ceann Comhairle asks each TD to compile a list of ten priorities – big ticket items – that need addressing in Ireland right now. From this list a master list is compiled and the Dail works on sorting each problem out, perhaps by using committees whose membership is based on personal interest, experience and expertise.
There would be no Ministers, the civil servants would run the various departments with full transparency. Political parties would be disbanded and the whip system would vanish with it. TDs would elect a Taoiseach who would act as a leader of the entire Dail and fulfill any ceremonial duties required. Imagine the money we would save – each TD would be paid equally.
This would mean that in the future TDs would be elected not on promises of what they would do for their locality but on their vision for the country. Local issues would be dealt with by the local councils which would function in a similar manner.
Imagine if 100 years after the Rising we reinvented politics, reimagined the way to run a country. Imagine if Ireland replaced the adversarial parliamentary system by a true democracy. A chamber where instead of scoring points our TDs would work at being the most creative, the most imaginative and the most effective in their given role. Just imagine the kind of country we could have then.