I wrote this email today from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I’m staying with my sister and her kids. We’ve been talking a lot about Trump – about the environment that facilitated his election, and about the future we’re all facing into. We’ve been watching Aodhán O’Riordáin say what everybody’s thinking; we’ve been talking about Ireland’s abortion laws and elected officials and our terrible, terrible track record with migrants. We’ve barely stopped talking since we got here.
But I found myself beginning to wonder: do my local TDs realise how I feel? Do they care? So I sat down to write to them – to Paschal Donohoe, to Mary Lou McDonald and to Maureen O’Sullivan. I hope they’re interested in reading what I have to say, because I would love to hear what they have to say in return.
Mr Donohoe / Ms McDonald / Ms O’Sullivan,
I’ve never written to any elected official before. To be honest, I’ve never had a huge amount of faith in the Irish system. I have never voted for a candidate associated with any political party; I believe that party politics only serves to fill the Dáil with people who, for good or for ill, toe the party line – and that, to me, is not a democracy. I did not vote for you. And yet, here we are.
I am growing increasingly concerned with how my – our – taxes are being spent, on a Dáil filled (very rarely) with people who seem incredibly out of touch with the needs and desires of the Irish people, and seem to have no interest in bridging that gap. What are you doing with your time in office that could, in any way, shape or form, be considered representative of the Irish population?
Where were you when 14 TDs debated the AAA/PBP Bill calling for a repeal of the 8th amendment? Did you, somehow, get the impression that this wasn’t an important issue for Irish people – for Irish women? Did you have some more pressing matter to attend to – or did your party instruct you not to attend? (As [your party colleague ____] was there, the latter possibility seems unlikely.)
Where were you when Aodhán O’Riordáin gave a speech to the Seanad about the fear and concern that we are all feeling, following the election of Donald Trump to the highest office on the planet? What do you think about Trump, or about our Taoiseach (our: belonging to us, of us) Enda Kenny’s little chat with Mike Pence, who “understands the Irish people”? I’d genuinely like to know – I want a Government that stands up for its people, and represents them. Do you feel as if you’re representing us?
What are you doing – not your party, not your Government, not your Dáil – but you, doing about the fact that we have accepted fewer than 50 Syrian refugees into Ireland, when we pledged to take 4,000? What are we waiting for? What are you waiting for?
What are you doing about the fact that rents in Dublin are still skyrocketing? How do you feel about our homeless problem – or, more accurately, our addiction problem? What do you think of how RTÉ spends our TV licence – inviting a bigoted, climate change denying homophobe on to “debate” the election of a right-wing reality TV star who has admitted to sexually assaulting women, because he can?
I’m sure that a lot of these topics don’t fall within your “remit” – but whatever assignment you were given once you entered our Government, please, don’t forget that you were elected because voters believed you would be a voice for them and that you would allow them to be heard.
What are you doing to fulfil that promise?
Rosemary Mac Cabe