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 The Madness Series: Lessons Learnt.

By Cathy Lee

A lot of not very “every-day” things happened in my every-day life last week.

Let me just say before we get into this that you shouldn’t worry as this won’t be a diary entry.

Last week I began my usual college student routine, doing what I was supposed to be doing. By Saturday, I had had three cover stories in three different newspapers.

I also won first place at a competitive Poetry Slam (but that’s a different story).

The overused term that comes to mind is “that escalated quickly”, but if the shoe fits.

The irregularity of these events come from the content of the cover stories and the fact I was even involved in a Poetry Slam.

The stories were an analysis of changes in property prices in county Dublin, Wicklow and Carlow which were spread across three pages each.

That’s altogether nine pages of house prices, analysis and content coming from a student journalist who doesn’t own a home and isn’t an amazing tenant either.

Also currently I live in neither Dublin nor Wicklow and believe me, not even Carlow.

The point of this post is that life is quite unpredictable and basically I believe you need to take every opportunity, big or small, that comes your way.

I will tell you just how I did that this time around.

Back in December, I met with the editor of the papers to do an interview about the upcoming general elections in Ireland in 2016.

I had completed work experience at their “Wicklow Voice” paper over the summer, a two week stay at a paper I grew to really enjoy writing for.

He was very willing to talk and gave a good interview, I was happy with how it went.

He told me during our talk that day that he would have some upcoming journalism work for me and also mentioned the magic and underused word of “paid”.

Of course, I was delighted at this.

Then, the horror of the words hit like a ton of bricks on the horizon of a ghost estate, (now growing from ghostly to homely I might add).

“Property”.

I sunk at the thought, knowing that property was not in my vocabulary never mind my journalistic abilities.

15,000 homes were sold in Dublin 2015. I looked at the name, location and price of each property.

500 homes were sold in Carlow and 1,300 in Wicklow. That’s nearly 17,000 homes.

With the extremity of excitement in uncovering information such as this, I was beginning to lose faith in terms of whether anybody would even want to read this endless jargon of stats.

I soon learned that I was wrong. People love putting their nose in others homes, to see how the other half lives in some way.

I listed the cheapest and most expensive sales and also the top ten homes in the counties.

People go crazy for these things and such stats, I found out when I saw the spread of numbers and cartoon homes on the published papers.

I also noticed that each other national paper and locals had property stories too, so I didn’t feel alone in my extensive investigative research into the “Property Price Register”.

I think I got the shock when the killer headline was in big bold print and I had the beloved by-line to go with it.

I almost felt like a spreader of my personal property propaganda that the poor readers in Dublin, Wicklow and Carlow had just me to read on the cover of their locals.

Last year in the first year of my journalism course in Galway, a speaker from thejournal.ie told us that you can’t predict what stories readers will like the most.

That idea flashed into my mind all through last week.

I think in this game I’m now invested in, you have to just take it as it comes.

Never say no, nod along and figure out the ins and outs later because a high percentage of the time, you can figure out the best way around a tough situation.

We are born survivors aren’t we? Embrace that inner strength and grab at these chances.

Who knows, maybe when I buy my first home. I’ll know where to go and look, because the stories stick with you, no matter how far gone you are.

Carlow

 

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I attach links to the property stories and photographs of the cover stories, feel free to browse and thanks to Wicklow Voice, Dublin Voice and Carlow People papers.