A Message amidst madness series: Taking Alternative routes.

By Cathy Lee

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you choose one way rather than the other? Let’s take for example, your walk to college or walk or your system of commute.

Can you remember the first time you went that way, and why you did?

Did it stand out to you or present you with something good? Did it lure you in?

Think now about how much of an impact this has had on you now. It is now part of your regular routine, you must spend the majority of your days on this route.

It has become part of your life.

I believe politics to be the same.

There was a general election in Ireland just recently on February 26th  2016.

National media described it as a “very different” election and in turn will create a very diverse Dail.

But why is it different?

You may have seen the hashtag ‘ge16’ on Twitter (it even had a little Irish flag automatically attached

For me it meant travelling back to my home town of Wicklow, over 200km from where I’m living currently to attend college.

I know from those I met at the polling station that much more also travelled home to cast their vote and valued having their views counted.

I think for once I was proud of my hometown simply because the people were willing to branch out and away from the FF/FG politics.

This was not the case for the nation as a whole.

Wicklow saw over half of the people gave their first preference to neither Fianna Fail nor Fine Gael.

In Wicklow Stephen Donnelly was elected on first count when he soared over the quota. He was elected in 2011 as an Independent candidate and just this year he co-formed a new party, the Social Democrats.

I was overwhelmed to see this as it really surprised me the courage that my constituency took to try new paths.

Now this doesn’t mean that the Fine Gael or Fianna Fail didn’t make the cut, they did too.

But it’s the one that tops polls that sticks in the mind and captures the coverage.

I was talking to a Galway woman about it who remarked that Wicklow did “something weird didn’t they?”

I chuckled when she said this, also mentioning that Galway East were the same with an Independent Alliance candidate topping polls.

Honestly, I’m happy to be classed with the weirdos if it means some actual change.

Why can’t we give the alternatives a chance to change the curve?

I don’t see how it doesn’t worry everyone that ever since the foundation of the state, it’s only ever been a majority led Dail government of Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

I study journalism and politics in college so as you may have guessed that I was interested. I had been speaking prior to the elections to many media-types and political analysists, ever since about October.

I think it was only a very few who thought Fianna Fail would make such a comeback.

Looking back to the leaving certificate, after studying Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth I learned not to trust predictions.

I think that lesson could be seen again here as the count results came flooding in quite random order over the days following the election.

I woke up on Saturday morning and my dad left for work saying “it looks like Fianna Fail” are coming up.

I slipped back into the pillow and picked up my phone to check Twitter immediately.

I checked my sources which were an article on the journal.ie, independent.ie.. it was all true.

I checked Facebook. Saw a friend’s status claiming that those who had voted Fianna Fail had done an injustice to the nation.

I couldn’t make sense of it. After some thought, I came up with this.

In my mind, this election for some presented this:

“I don’t like the current government. What options do I have? I haven’t looked to any other new parties and sure independents can’t get a word in. My options then are Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein. It’s embedded in me to have a fear of ‘what Sinn Fein would do if they were in government’. I’ll vote Fianna Fail then.”

This is a simple break down. It may be way off.

I can’t predict the future, as I said Mr. Macbeth taught me. But in the next while we’ll see if the old roots will creep back up and blossom.

And this was your choice.

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A Message Amidst Madness Series: Dealing with Changing Times.

By Cathy Lee

Ireland is a place for decisive and divisive referenda.

The Divorce referendum of 1996 and of course The Marriage referendum of just last year come to mind.

Call me biased, but these all happened in my lifetime.

Last week the Literary and Debating Society in NUI Galway held a debate on whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment of the constitution.

This of course is topical as it has been raised as an election issue currently, with some politicians showing their true colours as is to be expected.

But some politicians have been giving mixed messages about their stance on the matter.

About a year ago a Fine Gael TD claimed that he himself was pro-life in his stance but would agree with the need for his party to call a referendum on repealing the 8th and legalising abortion.

The term that first comes to mind during this time is “uncertainty” in these changing times.

We can’t be certain what’s to happen and what really defines “progress and change” to Irish politicians.

What is good for the country moving forward versus the sincerity in the views of Irish politicians seems to be an issue.

The government changed legislation in 2013 to make abortion accessible on the grounds of when a woman is showing signs of being suicidal.

Pro-Life campaigners were unhappy with this legislation and Galway representative for this campaign told me she’d like to see this legislation changed back to the way it was before 2013.

Although this legislation passed, you take the example of the “Ms Y” case of the same year (that is still ongoing) where the woman in question claimed to be suicidal and was still not able to access her own wishes to abort the foetus who had been conceived through rape.

Pro-Choice campaigners would prefer to have the 8th amendment of the constitution just be deleted and therefore avoiding any confusion around matters of defining whether a woman is sincere or not etc.

Deleted is a key word to this, as phrasing is so important when trying to convince the general public of complex views.

Last month national radio station NewsTalk launched their conversation campaign around Election 2016.

Their phrasing really struck me.

Their slogan was “Time to terminate the 8th?” with a photograph of a 6 month baby scan.

I couldn’t believe that this campaign was spread across the main billboard in my small home town.

(Just 100 metres away from the Catholic church too I might add).

We can experience bias when it comes to these referenda when we are presented with a fogged view of the reality.

When speaking to a local county councillor at home in Wicklow, he explained that a campaign to repeal the 8th would be certainly harder to achieve than other referenda.

With the “Yes Equality” campaign running up until last May, there were positive stories to tell about couples finding love and wishing to marry.

With abortion, often the stories are highly sensitive and not always positive.

But it also makes you wonder where all the losers on the side of these referenda go?

Do they just disappear off the radar when their views aren’t the majority?

Do those who voted “No” in the Marriage referendum boycott same-sex weddings or those who said “No” to divorce just force wedding rings back onto fingers now?

I understand everyone is entitled to their opinions and moral views on these topics, but it just get to wondering where is the future and will it actually facilitate everyone?

The conversation must be opened more instead of one side shunning the other’s views out.

Compromise is key in my view for this debate.