We shouldn’t need Ministers to develop the west

We have had many types of politician represent us over the years. Those who have made us proud, those who have entertained us; shamed us; those who you wouldn’t with any confidence send to the shop, and those who have delivered in spades for the region. All of them had their merits, their demerits, their strengths and failings, all obvious only to the differing eyes of the beholders.

Perhaps the biggest trick that Ministers of the past carried out was the multiplication of their truth in the role that they played in diverting back to us the money that was justly ours. We all know of Ministers who ‘delivered for their area.” We saw the signs that “you are entering X country”; we know of caricatured TDs who are able to convince their constituent they were delivering, by catering for them on a one by one basis.

The modern electorate is no fool and can spot a shyster when it sees one. So for us to be downbeat at the perceived injustice that has been afforded the west merely because we do not have a senior Minister is something we just have to get over. A lot has been made of this issue over the last few days, as if we should throw up our arms and give up and move to Rockall.

Modern politics is less and less about the personalities of the Ministers involved. Of course, there are those who will shout loudest for their constituents, but there is more than enough to go around to the regions if the cases are made adequately on our behalf by all the TDs we have elected, and not just those with a Mercedes under their bum.

If Ministers are to be truly ministerial, then they have to be forced to think nationally. The onus is on our TDs and senators to lobby those ministers. With three parties in power, there are enough local representatives of each party in influential positions to be able to bring our concerns to their table. Increasingly, we are seen the diminution of the power of the Minister to influence the progression of projects in their own areas.

Do I think that the west of Ireland would be a better place merely because Dara Calleary did not get the promotion he probably deserved? No, I don’t. I have faith and trust in the political system to ensure that this region gets its desired share.

We live in a part of the country that has a lot to offer. Here in the capital of the west in Galway city, there is much to enthuse about. Our inclusion this week in the Top Ten techie places to be based in the world is one such indicator of our status. We cannot tie our future prosperity anymore to the awarding of half a million euro employment contracts to Ministers. We have to be able to work the system better, to use what we can to highlight the issues that arise.

We have seen how the change of life forced on us by the pandemic has already made things possible that six months ago would be laughed out of court. Widen the paths, make it safer for cyclists, let the fittest in our communities look after their most vulnerable. These were all niceties last Spring. Now, they are a reality.

Now those who would have screamed climate change or walkways or cycling healthier living or sustainable development are no longer deemed loonies. They are no longer a They. They are a We. When push came to shove, we were forced into new ways of thinking and living. With this people power and more enlightened public representation, let us look at new ways of getting our political point across.

What we need to do is to take matters into our own hands, to not put our fate or faith in the hands of others.

By this time next year, the skyline of Galway will have changed shape, move forward another five and it will be even more so. The arrival of Covid-19 has illustrated just how possible it is for the impossible to become possible.

Let us keep the momentum going that existed pre-Covid, but let us add what we learned to the mix.

This is our region, only we can force the change to make the the place we all want to work, live, holiday or study in.

Good luck to all who have become Ministers — I wish you all the best of listening. Because you will need it.

We cannot tie our future prosperity anymore to the awarding of half a million euro employment contracts to Ministers. We have to be able to work the system better, to use what we can to highlight the issues that arise.

We have seen how the change of life forced on us by the pandemic has already made things possible that six months ago would be laughed out of court. Widen the paths, make it safer for cyclists, let the fittest in our communities look after their most vulnerable. These were all niceties last Spring. Now, they are a reality.

Now those who would have screamed climate change or walkways or cycling healthier living or sustainable development are no longer deemed loonies. They are no longer a They. They are a We. When push came to shove, we were forced into new ways of thinking and living. With this people power and more enlightened public representation, let us look at new ways of getting our political point across.

What we need to do is to take matters into our own hands, to not put our fate or faith in the hands of others.

By this time next year, the skyline of Galway will have changed shape, move forward another five and it will be even more so. The arrival of Covid-19 has illustrated just how possible it is for the impossible to become possible.

Let us keep the momentum going that existed pre-Covid, but let us add what we learned to the mix.

This is our region, only we can force the change to make the the place we all want to work, live, holiday or study in.

Good luck to all who have become Ministers — I wish you all the best of listening. Because you will need it.

 

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