This post has been brewing for a while. A letter appeared in the Irish Independent some time ago that took a theme that I’ve seen many times before, and which I’ve begun to form a strong aversion to. Here’s the text of the letter first of all (available here):
If David McWilliams (Irish Independent, December 16) is so concerned about the power of the ‘insiders’ in the political, social, financial and religious networks of Irish life, why did he not have that on the agenda of the recent Irish Global Forum held at Farmleigh?
He knows that for more than a century the networks of Irish life have been going to the Irish diaspora with begging bowls in times of economic stress. I suggest that if he wishes the power of the ‘insiders’ diminished that he offers Irish citizens in the diaspora a vote in Irish national elections.
Most modern democracies with large diasporas have done so. Indeed, some old democracies like Britain and France are now doing the same.
Firstly, this would be a sign of recognition of the contribution made by the diaspora.
Secondly, Irish citizens in the diaspora voting in national elections would hopefully burst the bubble of ‘insider’ personalism that permeates Irish life.
Thirdly, it would give Irish people in the diaspora a sense of inclusion.
Is that too much to hope for?
Navan, Co Meath
I’ve written about the Irish diaspora previously here, Diaspora, schmiaspora! How about the chickens who came home to roost?, so you can probably guess that based on that article, I am strongly opposed to us providing a vote to the Irish diaspora.
I can’t argue that the letter above may have an attractive proposition to providing the vote to the diaspora as it might dilute the impact of the so-called (by David McWilliams here) “insiders”.
However, what else was the Global Irish Economic Conference organised by the selfsame David McWilliams but one big love-in amongst the “insiders” – both the diaspora and the Irish based?
But that’s really an aside. I’m against providing the vote to the Irish diaspora because they have no true (interest) in how our country is run. The diaspora choose not to live in Ireland, for whatever reason, so why should they be allowed determine the destiny of those who actually do choose to live here (or live here because they don’t have any other options).
The reason that the David McWilliams “insiders” can wield so much power in this country is because those who live here decide to let them.
It takes, I think, about 1.1m people to change the government in this country.
But based on the 2007 election approximately 1.1. people didn’t actually bother to vote at all. That’s enough people to remove the “insiders” completely from Irish life, but those people who have the most to gain by doing so, don’t actually bother.
As the truism, or saying, or whatever goes – “we get the government we deserve”.
On a more positive note though, 507,000 people last year signed up in Facebook to demand a replay for the Ireland v France World Cup playoff game while 46,000 want John Joe from the Late Late Toy Show to fix their clocks.
That’s pretty much half way towards changing how our country is run. It’s a pity so many people just don’t care enough about the things that really matter.