It looks like the warm weather has taken people’s minds off politics as has the religious order scandals from the residential homes enquiry report.

The latter has really shocked not just the Irish nation but also the Irish diaspora and their friends and relations abroad. The failure of inspectors and the state to take care of children was a dreadful lapse in government responsibility.

Now the electorate are faced with a new task which is to elect their representatives in local government and in Europe.

We would hope to see a number of fresh faces with better and more progressive attitudes, even the older candidates standing again agree that change is needed. We need people with the will to do things and a belief that they can make a change.

Obama is doing it in America but what are we doing here? This year could be the beginning of major changes in Irish politics.

The government party of Fianna Fail has been discredited by the collapsing economy and its failure to act sufficiently to protect industry and stabilise the public finances. There is a huge lack of trust in politicians, thus a new crop could have a chance this time more than before.

Our poll on the front page gives an indication of voter disenchantment and that we could be hit with a low poll and apathy among the young. Canvassers see this on the doorstep by all accounts.

However, people can be very traditional and may continue to vote as their families and forbears have done. But this time more than usual those who are determined to vote want some change.

Older supporters of Fianna Fail are very disheartened, Fine Gael voters may be encouraged but may also be unsure of what the future holds. Labour supporters seem to be very confident.

Here in Waterford Fine Gael could control the County Council if they get a breakthrough, but Fianna Fail would dispute the likelihood of such an outcome.

In the city the question is will the pact survive between Fine Gael and Labour, supported by Independents. The likelihood is it will, but whether that is a good thing is another matter. Perhaps that needs a change too.

Later in the year the ability to pass estimates will be one of the key measures for the new administrations as the finances get more difficult, rateable income will fall and costs may rise. More Council jobs are likely to go and contracts ended. Services will also be reduced.

Euro vote

Strong efficient hard working candidates are needed. Some existing MEPS have good records at working on committees and getting changes in Euro Laws to assist in aiding their home country.

The globalisation fund was a case in point where aid to distressed industrial areas like Waterford could get EU funding of 50 per cent. Now this has gone up to 75 per cent, with the balance coming from the home country.

Dell in Limerick is going to get such aid, noted the Tanaiste Mary Coughlan last week. Waterford should too.

Fine Gael and Labour sit in the largest voting blocks for the Christian Democrats and the Socialists sections of the Parliament. Their candidates argue that they can achieve more than Fianna Fail or Independent candidates due to their resources, numbers and international connections.

There are fewer MEPS this time around due to the larger membership from Eastern Europe.

Given the poor state of the Irish economy the need for stronger lobbying in Europe is highly important. We need more EU aid to get us out of our problems. Fianna Fail needs to wake up more on this matter, as do the Greens in government.

Our MEPs need to become far more active to see what funds we can tap into in Europe to overcome some of the problems that we and the politicians have created.

The market cannot provide all the solutions today, even the Americans see that and aid is being provided for the banks and General Motors, to assist the troubled regions of the mid west. A re-sale of General Motors is likely, Germany has also stepped in to help Opel.

Here in Ireland we only rescue the banks, just look at the state of Anglo Irish losses, when better regulation by the Central Bank might have stopped such an outcome.

We in Waterford have lost out so much with the closure of the crystal plant and halt in production there. Other industrial closures have also taken place, on top of other job attrition elsewhere.

New plans are needed for places like Waterford and the south east for the future, given where we are now. Food, tourism and the knowledge economy are the new mantra.

There are many natural advantages here and we hope that the candidates seeking our votes have some decent ideas to assist the country and the lesser regions to get out of the current problems that are global in nature but have lasting effects for us in the long term.

At the end of the day though we would appeal to people to exercise the franchise of voting and not complain afterwards about the result.