Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

The state of independents shall be

February 20th, 2011 · 24 Comments · General Election 2011, Irish Politics

Much has been said about independents in this campaign, although many of them have been complaining about the lack of coverage of their campaigns by RTE and others.

Some have said the type of independent that is running is different to previous elections. We’ve been told that we have grown up and there are no longer pothole candidates or hospital candidates. We see more national interest candidates than the former independent FF type (though there are more independent former Labour party members running in #ge11 than independent former FF!)

As the election campaign has progressed I wonder if the initial love with the amount of independents running seems to have worn off. Or maybe voters have become more focussed on the decision that they have to make.

I’ve spoken at two meetings regarding the election and politics in the last week (candidates not present) where interesting discussions were held on voting intentions. Vox pops and internet discussions sometimes show the views of what I call the shame on all your houses crew and where people are considering independents. The figures that ‘independents’ get in opinion polls of approx 14% are misleading in that they include those voting for the United Left Alliance. Research into the reasons why people voted after this election will be very interesting and I hope exit polls include questions on it.

My inbox has been very interesting this election (thanks for all the emails and I’m really sorry if I have not replied, it has been overwhelming) On Friday I received a copy of correspondence between a voter and a candidate which led me to thinking further about the decision in voting for an independent candidate and if people understood what the national legislature is about. The possibility of a FG overall majority propped up by independents might lead one to surmises that nothing will really change in terms of the country being beholden to some flights of fancy elected by a constituency who don’t have the national interests at heart.

Many of these independent candidates are standing on a ticket of ‘Change’ or ‘National Emergency’ or the ever present but presumptuous ‘Political Reform’. Asking them their views on other issues may depend on which way the wind is blowing if one gets an answer at all. This brings me back to what has been my concern during the entire election of the lack of focus on the society we live in and that it’s not just the economy stupid.

Eamon Blaney is an Independent of the New Vision variety who is running in Dublin North East. He has no chance of getting elected (oh I think I just made a prediction there). J emailed him last week on a number of occasions (he has a website encouraging people to do so!) but got no reply until she sent this email.

Please answer the following questions so we can make an informed decision at the polls.

Can you please clarify your position on the introduction of civil marriage (not civil partnership) and adoption rights for gay couples and non biological same sex partners? Will you support the abolition of section 37?

Also, will you make it a priority to push any Government for legislation regarding the X Case ruling?

I would also be interested in hearing your position on the possible re-introduction of fees for 3rd level in Ireland, the provision of secular primary education for students and the new minimum wage.

to which she finally got a reply

Dear J,

I am running for election because we are in the midst of a National Emergency. Your questions are related to matters of conscience.

Where do you stand on the issue of priests not being charged with rape?

I don’t believe that any religion has a monopoly on God and the State shouldn’t either.


Eh she had not asked about priests… but anyway fair play to J she decided to reply

Dear Mr. Blaney,
While the main thrust of this is election seems to be focusing on the National Emergency as you put, we elect representatives on the basis of a broad range of criteria.

I can’t in good conscience vote for someone whose only focus is on economic policies. I pay tax in this country so the civil rights which are afforded to citizens are important to me. If elected you will be in office for five years and have a hand in legislation on a wide range of issues, it is not only financial and business matters which you’ll be dealing with. Our society may be in dire straights because of the recession, but at the end of the day people’s rights are important too and the questions I asked the candidates are important to me as a citizen.

I’m only working part time, I’m funding myself through a home study degree even though it will now make little difference to my job prospects. I want to be able to work and live in Ireland, and I want the country to recover economically, but I also have other needs which those in Government legislate for or against.

Regards your completely left of field question on priests, I believe that any person, male, female, religious or athiest should be charged and convicted if guilty of commiting any sexual offence. I also believe that the entire system around reporting, investigating and prosecuting all sexual offences needs a serious overhaul. As a volunteer on a helpline I can tell you it is heartbreaking to listen to people who have experienced a sexual assault, be it once or ongoing.

If you cannot answer the questions I put to you, I can’t vote for you.

Best of luck to you in your campaign.


to which she got this reply

Thats fine by me.

Maybe you will run for election yourself someday.

If you did, you would soon realise the sacrifice every Independent in this election is making. My focus is on the quality of the lives people live in this Country. Their economic circumstances are a significant, though not the defining factor, in their happiness.

I suggest J, that you whoever tells you the biggest lies, as most people in this Country have done for years.

Ergo, it won’t be me as I won’t tell you any.



So there so. Interesting correspondence to observe!

It’s important to find out what the candidates you are thinking about voting for believe in on issues which are important to you. You may not find one who ticks all the boxes you have but you may find one who is closest to the mark. But it is important to ask and not just think that voting for an independent will ‘send a message’ or cure apathy. And if an independent gets elected will they actually be able to do anything on the issues which are important to you? Most of them won’t even get speaking time in the Dáil (which is a reason for political reform in itself but that’s not a reason to vote independent if you get my drift).


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