This has been on my mind for a while now like, but I kept hoping I'd bump into the candidates around town, and I could ask them in person. But that only happened with one.
A scruffy, bearded, down-to-earth guy who's never let me down, never let Roscommon people down.
- What is your position on Abortion in Ireland?
- What is your position on Gay Marriage?
Reproductive Rights and Marriage Equality are two issues that have been burning a hole in the Irish consciousness over the last year or two. From the 'Free, Safe, Legal' and Abortion Rights Campaigns, to Panti's now infamous Noble Call Equality Speech - it would seem that most sensible ordinary Irish folk are swaying toward what used to be a distinctly 'Left' position.
We still have the Parish Pump Politics to contend with. The stalwarts who get their arses out of armchairs every single election to go and vote for FFFG (really, they are interchangeable, why waste even a grammatical spacing on them?).
These people vote for their man - or occasionally, a woman - based on the fact that Daddy was an FFFGer his whole life, and sure, didn't they always do right by our family? Or they'll blithely mark their box for FFFG on voting day, because that nice man fixed up the potholes on Rosie's road last year.
For me, and many like me, FFFG or associated cronies are automatically disqualified.
No contest, no question. No matter how good the guy is for the local community. So, what's left? (See what I did there?!)
Sinn Féin are coming in strong, despite their dubious history. They've a good platform for the people, a lot of their candidates make a lot of sense. I'm not sure we'll really see them come into their own as a party though until they shed the Old Guard who were personally involved in terrorist/freedom fighting activities.
The party line though is Anti-Choice - No Abortion in Ireland. It's all well and good to state that you're for the basic human rights (as I'd see them) - "Everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity", they say; to make decisions about reproduction, to have control over their body, and not to have medical intervention without informed consent. As I said, basic human rights, that the anti-abortion position in Ireland has been denying to women for years, even unto death.
I've been told it's a regularly debated issue, but until the policy is in place to ensure safe and legal bodily autonomy for women, I won't be giving Sinn Féin a first preference vote.
People Before Profit are coming in strong this time round, but we don't have a local candidate. The people of Wexford are lucky to have someone like Deirdre Wadding to vote for.
Fis Nua are making some moves, and their EU candidate Cordelia Nic Fhearraigh has stated as Pro-Choice, so I'm happy enough that she's running in my area.
Edit: My good friend George Harmon just highlighted that I'd left someone out. Oops!
The Socialist Party haven't run a candidate in my area, so I kinda forgot them. Sorry guys. As George said though: "(they) are unambiguous on both reproductive rights and gay rights including gay marriage", and have been providing abortion information since before it was legal to do so in Ireland. I particularly admire and respect Clare Daly, who I've interviewed in the past, and know from the start of her political career during my days around North Co. Dublin.
The Independents are a mixed bunch though, as you'd expect. It's FANTASTIC to see so many non-party candidates running all over the country. The United Left Alliance generally is a very good thing, and sorely needed for a very long time. Divided we fall and all that.
Looking at my Local Election choices here, the pickings are slim, and none of the Independents I've queried have got back to me with regard to my two questions - except for the candidate backed by Ming., who I questioned face to face. Sadly, he's Anti-Choice - he would have been a shoe in for me otherwise. So, I don't know who to vote for.
Given the way the Irish voting system works, every single vote matters. Every number you put on that page makes a difference, and so do the boxes you leave blank. As my lovely Aunty Eileen put it: "Just don't give a number at all to someone you definitely don't want to see elected".
For me, this means that everyone who's not a member of the FFFG brigade will be getting a number beside their name, with the exception of one or two raving loonies.
I'm giving them the rest of today though, to respond to my questions, so I can at least make the best choice with regard to the order of preference. I look forward to seeing the Independents trend continue in coming years, and genuine growth and change for Irish politics.