Be informed and make your vote count

By the time the next edition of the Mayo Advertiser hits the shelves, voting in the Presidential election will be complete and the votes will be in the process of being tallied.

Four debates later, every town and village in Ireland canvassed, posters left dangling precariously from poles, and the general public delighted that the end has come to what was a decidedly dull campaign.

It has without doubt being a dirty political campaign for what is essentially a non-political post.

A lot of this campaign has centred, and continues to centre, around issues that are inconsequential in comparison to the real policies the seven candidates are trying to put forward. That said, one could argue that it is better for scandals to be unearthed now rather than after a person takes office and brings shame on our little isle. People demand transparency from their public representatives given the scandals of the past.

The national media have taken an unhealthy interest in the private lives of the candidates and their pasts and have overestimated the public’s desire for such information.

Many of these stories centre around previous posts and appointments, with the media trying to scandalise what were valid positions. Also their determination to align the independent candidates with political parties and strip them of their independence is boring. Ordinary punters have said they aren’t all that concerned about whether Sean Gallagher was a member of the Fianna Fáil national executive or how many of Mary Davis’ board appointments were made by the same party. Most people have a leaning towards a particular political party and once the public are aware of these two candidates’ political allegiances, they can decide for themselves whether they will give them the nod.

Now when it comes to the matter of child abuse and rape we have entered different territory. Last weekend the Mayo Advertiser was invited on a walk about Castlebar with Dana, and the way she was welcomed and greeted by local shoppers was very encouraging for the Claregalway candidate. She was visibly emotional as people embraced and sympathised with her for the revelations of the previous week, but a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and it would be interesting to see if she would receive the same reception again. I think she would given how supportive her followers were, as they claimed there was no one else to vote for who shared her respect for God and life.

She was a downtrodden Dana last Saturday who did gain encouragement from the welcome she received in Mayo but her fortunes definitely didn’t improve after that.

David Norris and the lettergate scandal has ruined the senator’s chances. People are fixated about what’s in those letters and cannot see beyond that.

Campaigners for Gay Mitchell, nicknamed Grey Mitchell, have vowed that his ratings will rise dramatically in the last week of the campaign so we’ll watch that space with interest.

And Michael D, as long as he continues to say nothing in particular, stands a chance of knocking Gallagher off his poll topping perch. Martin McGuinness was a member of the IRA. We know. Move on. We can take this into consideration when making our choices. What we need over the next week is to hear about policies and what the candidates would do if elected.

Don’t forget about the two referendums either. We are being asked to vote on whether the pay of judges can be reduced in certain circumstances if the pay of public servants is being or has been reduced. We are also asked to decide whether the Houses of the Oireachtas should have powers to conduct inquiries into matters of general public importance and make findings about any person’s conduct.

Be informed and use your constitutional right to vote.

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