All pol­i­tics is lo­cal?

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters -

Sir, – One’s heart goes out to the many TDs who have in re­cent days ex­pressed their hurt and be­wil­der­ment at not be­ing cho­sen as Min­is­ters, par­tic­u­larly as it is clear their con­cern is not for them­selves or their ca­reers but for their in­ex­pli­ca­bly over­looked, un­der­val­ued con­stituen­cies.

And yet it could be worse. Our neigh­bours in the United King­dom, it seems, must put up with be­ing gov­erned by a cab­i­net not one of whose 22 mem­bers hails from Bris­tol, Cardiff, Ed­in­burgh, Belfast, Glas­gow, Sh­effield, Leeds, New­cas­tle, Birm­ing­ham, Liver­pool or Manch­ester.

To take the bad look off things I sup­pose, the Greater Lon­don area (pop­u­la­tion 8.9 mil­lion) has one rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the cab­i­net ta­ble, Boris John­son, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruis­lip.

This would seem to leave well over 30 mil­lion peo­ple pretty much with­out some­one to speak up for them where it counts. Surely an in­tol­er­a­ble sit­u­a­tion. I ex­pect there will be an up­ris­ing soon. – Yours, etc, ANDY THEODORE, Dublin 3.

Sir, – Thou­sands of peo­ple will lose their jobs, busi­nesses, in­come and prospects in the com­ing months. Those elected TDs who are vol­ubly drown­ing in dis­ap­point­ment at per­ceived lack of pro­mo­tion would do well to re­mem­ber that they have guar­an­teed pay and ben­e­fits for the term of this Gov­ern­ment. We did not elect them to whine and com­plain.

Many are called, few are cho­sen. – Yours, etc, DOROTHY BARRY, Mal­low,

Co Cork.

Sir, – The row over the lack of ge­o­graph­i­cal balance in the Cab­i­net has clearly been over­done – em­bar­rass­ingly so in some quar­ters – but it points to an is­sue that’s too read­ily over­looked – the con­cen­tra­tion of power in Dublin.

The an­swer to im­prove the gov­er­nance and rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the re­gions out­side the cap­i­tal, how­ever, is not try­ing to balance the cab­i­net ge­o­graph­i­cally. That should have lit­tle bear­ing on it. The job of Min­is­ters should not be to rep­re­sent their lo­cal­ity or give it pref­er­en­tial treat­ment, but to serve the en­tire na­tion in the best way they see fit.

In­stead, to lift up the re­gions mean­ing­fully, more pow­ers should be af­forded to ramped-up lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. Cur­rently, Ire­land has the least lo­cal au­ton­omy in Europe.

Di­rectly elected may­ors with ex­ec­u­tive func­tions would be a good place to start.

But de­volv­ing other pow­ers to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties – in­clud­ing the abil­ity to raise rev­enues and spend on ser­vices such as health, ed­u­ca­tion and in­fra­struc­ture – could nar­row the re­gional di­vide and give com­mu­ni­ties a mean­ing­ful say over their own fu­tures.

For gov­ern­ment to work ef­fec­tively, vot­ers need to see and feel the tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits of it. One does not have to be the most as­tute fol­lower of pol­i­tics to ap­pre­ci­ate that voter dis­en­fran­chise­ment poses a real threat to democ­ra­cies.

There­fore, those com­plain­ing about a lack of re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tion have a point. They are just search­ing for answers in the wrong place. – Yours, etc, SI­MON FOY, Lon­don.

Sir. – Chil­dren throw­ing their toys out of the playpen and the creches haven’t even re­opened yet. – Yours, etc, MICHAEL ROONEY, Knock­nacarra, Gal­way.

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