Tuesday 26 September 2017

Want to give your TD a piece of your mind? David's got an app for that


WANT to rant at your TD over the budget? Give grief to your councillor over a pothole? Believe it or not, there's an app for that.

What's more, the man responsible for a new smartphone app designed to make it easier to contact your elected representative is a politician himself, and is developing his idea with the help of the Macroom E centre.

David O'Byrne, a town councillor in Passage West, came up with the idea for Democratic Apps after he was laid off by Pfizer last year.

"I've been involved in politics since 2005, and in campaigns over the years at different levels. When I was laid off by Pfizer I had a look around, and worked on one unrelated idea that didn't work out so I started again with a blank sheet," he said.

David explains that the app will allow constituents to quickly log issues with their local rep.

"It can use Google Maps to highlight problems. So, say there's a pothole outside your house. You can select the exact location of the problem and send it to your councillor with two or three clicks. It will bang off a message with your email and phone number," he explained.

David added that the app will also allow politicians to send important messages to the public. But with public anger at politicians at a high following the budget, is David concerned that some elected officials won't want another outlet for their constituents to vent their anger?

"Well, if that's their attitude they won't get elected. There has been huge damage done to trust in politicians at all levels. Those who get out and engage with people will survive. Those who hide in their front room won't get re-elected," he argues.

Starting out on your own can be a daunting experience, David admits, which is why he is grateful for the help he's received from the Macroom E Green Shoots Programme.

"It's been a huge help. I have a hot desk there, working at home with [two young kids] isn't an option, so being able to go to Macroom where I have a desk with excellent wi-fi, printing and more is great," he said.

"Then they also provide weekly workshops on topics like marketing, public speaking and sales. It has been fantastic.

"It can be lonely going out on the road on your own, starting a business when you come from working in a team, so having support and people to talk to makes the transition easier."