People who don’t have an interest in politics are often berated and belittled by those who do.
To not care about who’s running the country is a sign of ignorance to such people; proof that you truly are an imbecile, or ‘gombeen’ in the Irish way of throwing insults.
Yet there are plenty of young people in Ireland, like myself, who refuse to engage with politics because we’re just so damn fed up with it and see it as an exercise in circuity, a pointless endeavour incapable of grafting badly needed change onto Irish society.
This week gone by is a good example of just why many young Irishmen and women are beyond caring about what’s happening in the Dail.
One headline I read this week really epitomized just what’s wrong with Irish politics.
Kevin Myers, perhaps one of our most outspoken but brilliant political commentators, began a piece with the following headline: “Timid Fine Gael leaves us at mercy of toxic ruling caste”. It captures in just one succinct sentence why Irish politics is so enraging.
We just had a failed leadship coup in Fine Gael. Fergus O’Dowd and co.’s attempt to usurp the battle-worn Enda as leader of the main Opposition party brought me some long needed political excitement for Ireland. Change, I finally thought, was on the horizon.
I think it goes without saying that we’re all fed up with Fianna Fali. Yet where’s the Opposition and why aren’t they doing more to dislodge such a woeful and obviously incompetent government?
Fianna Fail have presided over Ireland’s economic ruination. A once vigorous roaring Celtic tiger lies economically and emotionally maimed. To call Ireland a shadow of its former self would perhaps even be going too far. I believe that in any other functioning democracy there would have been a national uproar with the presiding party immediately deposed of. Not in Ireland, though.
If the people aren’t going to exercise enough clout to clamour for a general election, then surely the Opposition party should?
Yet who can honestly say that Fine Gael is an exciting alternative to Fianna Fail, or that they have shown a dynamism and courageousness that begs for their immediate instatement as the ruling class, whether alone or in coalition?
For that reason Fine Gael have now sunk below Labour in opinion polls and rightfully so.
Admist so much incompetence, isn’t it only right that the leader of that party should be gotten rid of?
Obviously it’s not just I who holds onto that belief, as a sizeable chunk of Fine Gael’s frontbench came out publicly against the party’s leader. Yet Enda managed to shirk off the affront to this leadership in the most undiplomatic and ruthless way possible by firing the challenging party. Democracy, it seems, was flushed down the toilet.
What we’re left with in the wake of the Fine Gael fiasco is a political system even worse off than it was before, which is saying something. Swearing is becoming more and more common in the Dail, leadership challenges are dealt with by firing the challengers, and no-one seems capable of change.
What the Fine Gael leadership challenge briefly promised to bring was change into the Opposition party, which perhaps could lead to a change of leadership. It was a brief and wonderful moment that seemed - and was - too good to be true.
Even today the petty squabbles continue. Fine Gael refuse to co-operate with Sinn Fein because of an Army Council which even the Northern Ireland Independent Monitoring Commission thinks has ceased to exist. Noone seems capable of working together and even within parties ties are breaking down.
Is it any wonder, then, that young Irish have all but given up on their political system?