It'll be 100 years since the foundation of the Irish Free State soon but Patrick Pearse's and his fellow signatories foundational promise to “cherish all the children of the nation equally” is looking as shot full of holes as an Easter Rising flag.

It used not to matter that much. Ireland's lofty political establishment could defend their interests against all comers decade after decade in a political Houdini trick that often amazed our visitors, and once again this week most of the candidates are back in fairly complacent campaign mode.

There are now well over 10k homeless people in Ireland.

There are now well over 10k homeless people in Ireland.

In their Model-T politics from the last century, Fine Gael and Finna Fail offer policy positions so broadly similar that at times they're practically reflective, in pursuit of roughly the same laissez-faire economic and social outcomes.

But on the Irish doorsteps, these campaigners are encountering an unusual level of dissatisfaction and pushback over the state of the country, particularly with the new plans to raise the pension age to 68, a plan which contrasts starkly with the massive tax giveaways to multinationals. 

Massive tax giveaways and a highly educated population sees multi-nationals flock to Ireland.

Massive tax giveaways and a highly educated population sees multi-nationals flock to Ireland.

People seem to be in an increasingly riotous mood and there's good reason for it. For over a decade now the Irish have watched as their social compact was bent until it snapped by an ever more rapacious economic system. 

The so-called miracle economy that has revived investment and built a new hotel on every city block has also seen over 10,000 citizens become homeless and tents and sleeping bags lining our streets, bridges and major thoroughfares.

Some observers think that the homeless problem has been contained to the capital but according to the Focus Ireland group Galway, Kerry and Clare are now among the counties with the fastest rising homeless populations too. That's the Irish heartland. That's the people and places we know. That's us.

The sight of these growing numbers of the unfortunate has done violence to our sense of ourselves as a caring and compassionate people. We used to blame British imperialism for our shocking emigration numbers and the exploding numbers of the destitute but who can we blame now? 

This election could send an unmistakable message to the Irish parliament to put our house in order at last. It could set us on a national course correction as dramatic in its own way as the marriage equality vote or the abortion referendum or the Good Friday Agreement referendum.

In 2020 voters will no longer be bought off by low hanging promises of lower taxes on pints or cigarettes. Things have gotten a degree more challenging for us all, increasingly young people can't find accommodation never mind afford a new home, the paltry number of houses being built far outstrips the public demand, and the sense that the economy is rigged against the little guy in favor of the wealthy is a dangerous development for our governing elites.

So change appears to be coming - radical change. The kind of once in 100 years change as a hard-pressed people hit the national reset button. We may soon be on the cusp of a political earthquake.

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