Now is the season to know that everything you do is sacred.
Ireland’s political class has suffered badly at the hands of the economic recession. The next general election was in fact called for by the Green Party following the humiliating bailout package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. As a number of TDs (including Minister for Health, Mary Harney) who have been active for decades line up to announce their retirement from the political arena, their lack of credibility is painfully apparent. Far from being recognised as pillars of society or civil servants who have worked tirelessly for their country, these men and women leave office with tabloids speaking not of their achievements but bitterly scorning their pension funds.
Much though I can understand public anger at the sorry state of affairs which, doubtless, many political figures had a hand in creating, I am wary of the damage such a negative attitude will do to the political landscape. It is clear that Ireland requires a catharsis of the political class, a general ‘out with the old, in with the new’ if it is to re-establish confidence in the system. But how are we to encourage a new generation, with the new ideas and new talents which this country desperately needs, to run for office if all around them they are seeing the nightmare which awaits them at the other end? Ireland as a whole is walking on thin ice here. Such insubordinate rhetoric will do more harm than good if people cannot bring themselves to realise we must look to the future if we are to rebuild the nation.
And so to my next point – Dylan Haskins (no, me neither), is a young broadcaster and ‘social entrepreneur’ from Dublin. He had a hand in setting up the Exchange arts Centre in Temple Bar of which I wrote in a post, last summer, and has been heavily involved with a series of projects focused on societal change in the urban setting of Dublin. Haskins is also a broadcaster on RTÉ, presenting for an arts programme and thus interviewing famous musicians such as Ellie Goulding and Biffy Clyro. As well as all this, he’s studying at Trinity College.
One would think such a busy man would hardly have time to stand for public office, and yet, as of this morning, that is exactly what Haskins is doing. What’s more, the 23 year-old has some serious heavyweights on his side, including economist David McWilliams (who predicted the crash back when it wasn’t cool to talk about that sort of thing).
I don’t fail to see how many voters might find Haskins lacking in experience, not to mention years. But, leaving such reservations aside for a moment, I must state my position: This is exactly what Ireland needs right now. With scores of my friends from school, recently graduated and announcing their plans to pack up and emigrate, Ireland faces a brain-drain it simply cannot afford.
Nonetheless, I see tiny glimmers of hope among my peers. The ones who talk of change, not as something somebody else will bring about, but as something they intend to stay and instigate themselves. A girl who has the option of leaving Ireland with a degree in Commerce and a Masters in Accounting and Finances is staying in Dublin to become a CA here, rather than in Manchester. Another has already acquired investment for her first business venture. One guy I know studied law at Aberdeen and has sacked the Inns of Court in London for King’s Inns in Dublin because ‘the new Ireland will need barristers’. These individual decisions may seem small but they are representative of a splinter group of the ‘Scarred Generation’ who simply refuse point-blank to accept a defeat they didn’t sign up for. They are the quietly confident visionaries of a future Ireland, one which we must imagine and build ourselves. They are the people we must emulate. We have the education, we have the desire, we have the ability. Now we just have to do it.
Dylan Haskins may not be the best man for the job, but he’s the best representative of a new generation which the country desperately needs and which, believe me, I would much rather subscribe to than the old. If I was a constituent of Dublin South East, on that reasoning alone, I would vote for him.