Wednesday 21 August 2019

Rachel Dugan: 'I'm trying hard to muster some love for 'local''

'Why can’t I get excited about the council and those who want to represent me?' Stock photo
'Why can’t I get excited about the council and those who want to represent me?' Stock photo

Rachel Dugan

With Donald Trump set to touch down within a matter of weeks, the world at large on a crash course to becoming an apocalyptic wasteland, and women's rights being eroded in pockets of the globe at a rate that would have the overlords of Gilead rubbing their hands in glee, I struggle to muster much more than a thimbleful of enthusiasm for local politics. In truth, it's the local part that leaves me cold.

In the last few weeks, a number of wannabe councillors have called to my house. After the polite introductions, they invariably steer the conversations towards 'local issues'.

Do I care about the crater-like pothole three streets away? Am I overly exercised by the plan to hack down some local fruit trees? Have I given much thought to the proposed bus corridor? My eyes start to glaze over.

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Then they ask if there's anything particularly bothering me in the local area. I look skyward and open mouth to fashion some sort of reply. But all that comes out is an elongated, meandering "uhhhhhhhhh". Last week, I decided to fill the awkward silence by claiming to have just moved into the area. The candidate enthusiastically welcomed me to an area I've been living in for almost three years before cheerily moving on. Shameful behaviour on my part. I know.

So why can't I get excited about the council and those who want to represent me? Is it because only people with children really invest in their locality? Am I part of a generation that feels more connected to a global tribe rather than a local one? Or am I simply a poster child for apathy?

I think part of it stems from the negative associations 'local politics' has among many people in my age group. Often seen as low-level and inward looking, this bottom rung on the political ladder is sometimes thought of as the preserve of chancers who like to wheel and deal, getting no-parking signs erected outside people's house or hurrying along the stalled student loan application for the son of a local businessman.

If I'm completely honest, local politics and council business has always felt a little, well, grubby. This is not, of course, an entirely fair way to talk about those who want to better society, but, when I reach into the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind, it is a feeling that I harbour.

But I am determined to stir up some sort of fire in my belly in the run-up to next Friday. I may care more about climate change and the spread of the far right than the state of my local park, but I know I ought to pay more attention to what's happening on my own doorstep. After all, like charity and fights over the remote, shouldn't politics begin at home.

Canine candidate Kaya certainly gets my vote

Speaking of candidates, there has been one who's seriously piqued my interest. I know she lacks experience, but she'll make up for it with dogged determination to serve the people.

Posters for Kaya, a handsome-looking south Co Dublin pooch, have made their way on to lampposts this week and her slogan, "Barking Up the Right Tree", is certainly catchy.

Also, her message is clear and her demands reasonable: more dog parks; more poop bins; and more treats for dogs. Now that's a message a dog-owner like me can get behind.

Trump, our burger king

I wonder what kind of reception Trump can expect when he does touch down in Shannon next month. The Taoiseach said the president would "be given the welcome his office deserves". I suspect, though, that nobody will be falling over themselves to uncover Trump's Irish ancestry or name a motorway service station in his honour. Though we do know Donald likes a good burger...

Irish Independent

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