I slipped up this year. Usually I have my ‘No Canvassers Please’ sign instated in my front room window well before the earnest electioneering commences. As I’ve written before, I simply loathe the sight of canvassers at my door in the run up to an election day. Nothing personal, but I’ll have spent the best part of the previous eight hours writing about said election and the last thing I want is to have my daily dose of TV soap eye candy interrupted by would-be politicians.
But this year it completely slipped my mind. There I was the other night, little fella on my lap reading him a story, when there was a knock on the door. The dog brought the place around her, bolting back and forth between myself and the front door and howling in excitement at the prospect of visitors. I hollered at the dog to stay quiet and yelled for the hubby to come in from the back garden to open the door. The child starting roaring like Doran’s bull at all the commotion. Complete chaos.
Anyway, the door was eventually opened to a pair of canvassers who started a hasty retreat down the driveway at the sight of the madness, much to the glee of the dog who took an enthusiastic run at their ankles. Suffice it to say, a ‘No Canvassers’ sign has since taken pride of place in my window.
I’m aware that, for many, canvassing is the only opportunity voters have to question the sitting politicians on their records. But for those, like me, who don’t appreciate discussing the topics of the day on my doorstep, wouldn’t it be great if we could just go online and check up the work those councillors actually do for you.
Which is why I cannot overstate how great I think new website www.kildarestreet.com is. The website offers you the facility to search Irish parliamentary debates from both the Dáil and the Seanad by subject, phrase, contributor or date. You can also check up just how active your local TD is in the Dail. And though I’m not for one minute suggesting that their activity in the Dail is representative of their overall competence, it is nonetheless interesting to know what they’re up to during the 90 odd days that the Dail sits each year. After all, they’re supposed to embody your voice in Government.
Apparently, Martin Cullen has spoken in 76 debates in the last year, which is considered above average among TDs.
Statistically, Labour’s Brian O’Shea is our constituency’s most inquisitive TD: he received answers to 330 written questions in the last year, which is considered above average among TDs. Reflective of some of the major issues arising in the Waterford area of late, the Tramore-based O’Shea asked most of his questions about the Irish Language, Hospital Services, Health Services, Pension Provisions and Institutes of Technology. He has spoken in 81 debates in the last year – again, above average among TDs.
Though his early days in the Dail garnered him a reputation for controversy, Fine Gael’s John Deasy had an input in just 26 debates last year. According to the website, he has tabled 255 written questions in the same time period, primarily about Departmental Expenditure, the Decentralisation Programme, Overseas Development Aid, Social Welfare Benefits and Schools Building Projects.
Finally our most understated national representative, Deputy Brendan Kenneally, has spoken in a mere 7 debates and received answers to 27 written questions in the last year, with most of his questions relating to Telecommunications Services, the Cancer Screening Programme, School Transport, Higher Education Grants and Grant Payments.