The real barriers to standing for election in Ireland.

Portrait of Robert Boyle

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We have see a considerable airing given to the 4 or is it 5 C’s that are barriers to women being election candidates but what of the sorts of problems that can potentially affect any one of us who might think about putting our names forward for consideration by the general public, or worse yet the party membership? Below I list just ten of te possibilities.

1 ) Having the wrong name> If your name isn’t that of the retiring elected rep, you’re chances are badly holed before you even get to the convention. Unless that rep’s son or daughter is found stranded on the local town roundabout with a cash of the local authority’s travel budget and some barely alive bovine of negotiable affection then like as not their name will win out over yours. This is also a corollary to this where name will trump family, a distant cousin (or even someone who is no relation at all) with the appropriate family name will often romp home ahead of the actual offspring of the departing rep if said rep didn’t have the decency to marry their mother or their mother decide that they should have her name.

2 ) Being from the wrong place> It might seem to those types up in Dublin that one Irish Ballygobackwards hamlet is much like another but heaven help the prospective candidate who does not come from the townland that the party draws most of its vote and membership from. The party stalwards from Ballybogwater will select a pair of shoeless ankles held together with string providing it comes from their neck of the woods ahead of a fully functioning and breathing human being from 6 miles over in KnockPigSwill. This sort of thing happens in some areas of our cities too, watch for the candidate who talks unceasingly about being local, this in an election where being from the other side of the street can mark you as a dangerous blow-in. County teams used to be picked on this basis before the actual winning of matches became important. It’s this sense of tradition that makes us what and where we are as a people.

3) Being from the right place but at the wrong time> You’ve had the good sense to be born in the right place but the only problem is there is a sitting TD already from the place. Whether they are from your party or another it matters not, so long as they are from the same place and that place lacks the population to elected two. If you get nominated you can’t beat him and more than likely the locals who vote for your will transfer to back to him and you’ll be blamed for delivering a seat to the enemy.

4) Being in the wrong place> you could be the 21st century’s answer to Jim Larkin, but this isn’t going to wash with the rural types. In this case you can invoke number 6 by following the example of Joe Higgins and invert this role by going to the right place. Right for your chances of getting elected that is.

4) Being too smart for your own good> If you have Ph.D don’t let on. Being a doctor is fine provided you have give people and sign sick certs after that ythe public isn’t interested in what you know. Unless you know about getting grants. This is an entirely different matter to being cute.

5) Coming from too small a family> If you’re parents were only children then it is  likely that you won’t be a TD. Big families with plenty of cousins can not alone vote for you at convention time, but will provide the core of your campaign team. Being a popular member of a football club or the like is useful substitute.

6) Move away from home> Most TDs are from the place they represent, indeed if they have never left the county before being elected except to attend the All-Ireland, protest against cuts to the CAP, and that time they needed a specialist to look at that nasty growth then all the better. Once you leave home to work or attend 3rd level, you leave the extended family network behind. presuming you had one to start with and are easily attacked as someone who is no longer in tune with the local people.

7) Not talking like the rest of us> This is linked to being too smart, if you come from the Kingdom then talk like it.  You can be as thick as the cast off of planks but sounding like you had an education even if it didn’t take is electorally fatal. Sure no one outside your own place will understand a word but what does that matter, they can’t vote for you either.

8) Have the wrong name Part II > Xanax is a grand name for a drug but you won’t find too many of the Xanax family standing in an election. The alphabetic ordering of the ballot, we provide people with pictures and party logo but still they need to see the candidate name and many is the person who simply votes 1,2.3 as they go the paper.

9) Being prone to having ideas > You are playing with dangerous ju-ju when you start to think for yourself in Irish politics. By all means you must have a notion about what it is that we must do something about, but you must not have any concrete idea what we should do about it.

10) Having the wrong profession> To get elected it is best to have a profession requires you to interact with lots of people who in turn have a wide and somewhat unconnected circle of friends. Teachers, publicans, salespeople. People who just get on with their daily work in a place without much in the way of a public profile are best suited to funding candidates, or marrying them.

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