Public demands politicians who challenge status quo
There's a growing recognition that politicians need not be in Government to be useful, writes Stephen Donnelly
There's been a lot of talk in recent days about the rise of the Independents. The Establishment consensus, that it's a protest vote, is only partly true. There is another, more interesting, change at work in Ireland: the breakdown of trust in traditional politics and the demand for public representatives who speak the truth.
The body politic's pretty freaked out right now. Labour's share of local Government seats has fallen by nearly two thirds. It has no MEPs. Its leader is gone, and the corridors of Leinster House are thick with plots. Fine Gael's performance received less media attention but was still pretty stark, with its share of local Government seats falling by nearly 30 per cent. The Taoiseach looked decidedly uncomfortable during Leader's Questions, and on Wednesday was promising to end the debacle of taking medical cards from sick children.
Fianna Fail fared OK. Its European Election result was dismal, with only one MEP elected. But just six years after laying waste to our beautiful island, it has been voted back in as the biggest party in local Government.