With only a little over a week to go to polling day, election fever continues to mount and, this time out, there is more uncertainty about the outcome than ever before.
If we are to believe the opinion polls, there is hardly enough room in the tall grass for all the vengeful people waiting to push the dagger in! Mind you, I’ll take all that with a small grain of salt because no matter how angry people get, a lot of them still revert to tradition at the last second. Despite all their dark mutterings and all the promises they vowed to themselves and their families, once they stand in that polling booth, more often than not, the all-important No1 goes were it always went.
Under the terms of The Local Government Act, councillors who resign or lose their seats are entitled to a lump-sum payment depending on length of service. The payment applies to any member who is over 50 years of age and has clocked up at least two years service. A cap of 20 years means the most any representative could get would be €70,000 although most would be far below that limit. For instance, a person with thirty years service would get in the region of €40,000 which is nice money.
It is fashionable now to slag off local politicians but I wouldn’t agree with a lot of the old nonsense and vitriol that is being pumped out. Most of the public representatives I’ve known over the years were decent and hard working and got little or nothing out of their time in public life. Politics can be a dirty business but, leaving the acceptable cut and thrust of political life aside, most are honourable people.
The truth is, they love it. Otherwise why would they put up with the constant run of long, boring meetings and people calling to their doors at all hours of the day and night. Many people seeking assistance call at mealtimes because they consider it the best time to get their public representatives in!
On many occasions, I’ve watched people lose their seats and it hasn’t been pretty. The sense of public rejection bordering on humiliation is huge although most manage to conceal their emotions until they are back inside their own front doors. Don’t let anybody tell you that they don’t care because they do and never forget that politics is a blood sport. To those who are retiring, or who don’t make it back to the council chambers, I wish them all the best and I certainly don’t begrudge them their once off ‘goodbye money’ because I reckon they have earned it.
There have been a number of retirements from Waterford County Council so there are certain to be significant changes there. In Waterford city, at least one big name will have to bite the dust because of the reshaping of the three wards and he/she could well have company! In all there are 35 candidates seeking fifteen City Council seats.
It would be unfair to name names but, generally speaking, my prediction for the City Election is as follows.
Ward 1 North (Four Seats)
The status quo is likely to be maintained but there is an outside chance of one change.
Ward 2 East (Six Seats)
Because the Ward has received an extra seat since last time there will be at least one new member. At least two sitting councilors could be vulnerable because this ward would appear to have quite a few strong challengers.
Ward 3 South (Five Seats)
This is definitely a ‘Gunfight at the OK Corral’ situation. Because of the change in seat numbers, one sitting councilor has to go. There might even be a second casualty.
Good luck to one and all.
Tales of pigeon lofts and
Though I can’t say that I was on the doorsteps when they occurred, I am reliable informed that the following two stories are true!
A well known councillor was canvassing in a city housing estate and knocked on a door that was answered by the woman of the house and he asked her if he could do anything for her. She replied that she didn’t really need anything except she desperately wanted to get rid of the numerous birds that were kept by the pigeon-fancier next door. They annoyed the hell out of her, she said, because, apart from all the cooing and flapping of wings, they had her roof and footpaths destroyed with their droppings. The politician made a great show of sympathising with her in her terrible predicament and promised her faithfully that it wouldn’t be long at all before he got rid of those accursed pigeons for her.
He then went next door and spoke to the pigeon fancier who mentioned a few things that he would like to see done but he made no mention of his birds so the councillor broached the subject. “God, they’re fine looking pigeons”, he said admiringly, as he stepped back and looked at a row of pigeons on the roof.
“Would you like to see where I keep them”, said the man, delighted that the politician was interested in his hobby. So they all trooped out the back and, when the councillor saw the dilapidated pigeon coops, he let out an anguished cry bemoaning the fact that those lovely birds had to live in converted tea-chests. “Listen”, he said, “as soon as I get back to City Hall, I’m going to put in an application on your behalf for a grant for a new pigeon loft.”
He got votes from both houses but, needless to say, the woman didn’t get rid of the pigeons and neither did the man get his new loft.
The second story involves two politicians from the same party, one was a wily old-timer who had been elected many times and the other was a shiny young businessman bristling with enthusiasm at contesting his first election. It is important to know that both politicians were Catholics and that the woman of the house was a devout Catholic with pictures of the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Virgin hanging on almost every wall.
The older politician knocked the door and there were five No1s in the house so it was a very important call. So, when all the hellos and pleasantries were dispensed with, he told the woman he was counting on all their No1s as usual. But she knocked him for six when she said that she was sorry but, this time out, they were all giving their No1s to the younger politician. She explained that he had been very helpful to them earlier in the year on a very important family matter and they were so grateful they promised him their support.
The older politician didn’t turn a hair. “Oh, when you explain it like that, I can well understand the situation”, he said. And then he carried on. “Isn’t he a grand young fella all the same. There he is with the whole world at his feet. He has a thriving business and now he is embarking on a political career and, to cap it all, he has lots of money in the bank.”
“I didn’t know he had lots of money”, said the woman, “where did he get that?”
“Ah”, said the cute old hoor as he lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, “sure doesn’t he come from an old Protestant family.”
The woman didn’t say anything but the crafty old dodger knew that the five No1s had returned to where he considered to be their rightful place.