IS there a Clare general candidate out there, who is sufficiently brave and imaginative to put themselves on the line for this county and, by extension, their beleaguered country?
Someone who can coherently impart their vision for the next five years and who is prepared to relinquish self interest for communal concerns?
Answer: All of Clare’s candidates confidently predict they will deliver on the above. None of them believe for a moment they don’t have what it takes to represent this county.
How many of them are prepared to tear up the ordained, failed script though? All four of the county’s TDs will be paid a basic annual wage of €92,000 once elected. That excludes a cent of legitimate expenses, which Clare TDs are now not slow to claim. It’s safe to say that all incoming TDs will be paid well in excess of €100,000 per annum, expenses included. Those thinking of voting on February 25, if that turns out to be the election date, should dwell on that. Maybe as the candidates plead for a vote, ask them a simple question first. Ask them could they possibly envisage living on say €60,000 for the duration of the next Dáil? That’s including expenses. If our perspective representatives are absolutely pure in their desire to work themselves to the bone for their constituents, they shouldn’t blink for a second at this suggestion. How many of the people they are asking to vote for them earn anything close to €60,000? If our TDs want to justifiably claim they are in touch, they must show that they are. Talk won’t suffice. So if one or more of them agree to this proposition, what should they do with the balance of their annual salary and their legitimate expenses? Very simple; put every cent beyond that €60,000 figure into a fund, which would be distributed to community organisations in Clare, who are short of money. The fund could be overseen and operated by an independent committee local accounts or solicitors, who would adjudicate on what applicant community groups should be aided. Those on the committee should be totally bereft of any known political affiliation.
If even a single Clare general election candidate, who subsequently gets elected, was to agree to this, they could end up diverting up to €200,000, over a five-year Dáil term, (at least €40,000 per year) to local groups whose funding has been cut. If more than one gets on board, better again. Perhaps a cap of €10,000 could be placed on what a single community organisation could receive in one year. TDs might say it would be impossible to live on €60,000 and service their constituency offices. Why not operate their local offices from home? Cut, cut, cut. Just like everyone else is doing.
And another thing; there are hundreds of thousands of vacant houses all over Ireland these days. Thousands in Dublin where our TDs have to be for Dáil sittings. Instead of Clare’s four newly elected TDs claiming for hotel or even B&B expenses, would they not consider renting a house between the four of them and making do with that? Unless they can think of a cheaper option, individually or collectively, this would save significant money. It wouldn’t result in the Irish economy recovering overnight but at the very least, our public representatives would make it known that they are minimising the public money that they are spending.
Between four town councils, our 32 county councillors and four TDs, Clare has 66 public representatives. Do we need them all? That’s a question for another time. What we need now is substantive indications of leadership from our prospective national representatives. Remind them of that.