Monday 26 September 2016

For all the talk of ministers focusing on portfolios, politics in Ireland remains local

Published 26/07/2016 | 02:30

The site of the former Kiely’s pub in Mount Merrion. Photo: Frank McGrath
The site of the former Kiely’s pub in Mount Merrion. Photo: Frank McGrath

Shane Ross is never one to shy away from calling it as he sees it, so it's not a surprise to see his name cropping up in the planning files of his local council.

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But the fact he is objecting to more than 100 homes at the same time that the Government, which he is part of, is grappling with a major housing crisis will raise a few eyebrows.

In the past he has complained that the emphasis on constituency work is "so dominant" in Leinster House.

However, he put the case of Stepaside Garda Station front and centre of the talks that led to the formation of the Government. It's not yet known whether Stepaside is among the six stations to be reopened under a pilot scheme. However, nobody would be surprised if it was.

The reality is that for all the talk of ministers needing to focus on their portfolios and put the national interest ahead of the local ones, that doesn't work in Irish politics.

And unless voters were to agree to a system whereby ministers are automatically re-elected like the Ceann Comhairle, it will never change.

In his submission on the Union Café site in Mount Merrion, Mr Ross argues that 46 new homes would not sit well with his constituents.

"The residents association and local community groups have always had enormous energy in working to improve Mount Merrion for all its residents. If this proposal was to be approved, this vibrant community pride and spirit could be irreversibly damaged," he wrote.

The objection being planned for the Oatlands site is likely to run along similar grounds, with concerns over traffic and privacy of existing residents.

For those of us who don't live in Dublin Rathdown it might not be what we'd like to see Mr Ross spending his time at.

But unless 'new politics' goes a lot further than its current incarnation, all politics will remain local.

Irish Independent

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