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We'll vote whatever way you want... but please, no more election debates

Brendan O'Connor



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Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin in an unguarded moment before last week’s debate on Virgin TV. Photo: Maxwell

Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin in an unguarded moment before last week’s debate on Virgin TV. Photo: Maxwell

Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin in an unguarded moment before last week’s debate on Virgin TV. Photo: Maxwell

OK. We give up. We'll vote. We'll vote whatever way you want. We'll do what you all tell us. Just please no more debates, no more panels, no more leaders' one-on-ones. If nothing else, it's cruelty to these people.

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For weeks now, they've been paraded around, poked and prodded, shouted at by moderators, their every utterance analysed. They've been asked the same questions repeatedly and every word and intonation then compared with the last time they were asked the same question in case it signals a shift in position. They've had to buy meat and flowers wherever they go, eat buns, drink tea, listen politely to every shouter they come across, and remain calm at all times.

Worse again, they keep telling us, through gritted teeth, that the voters are very "engaged" this time out. "Engaged", in political speak, means, "I'm spending half an hour at doorways listening to people's every gripe and even then I don't know if I have a vote".

Admit it, if it was you or me, we would have told someone to f**k off by now. We would definitely have told Ivan to f**k off.

Do you think they dream at night about telling some random punter where to go? Do you think they imagine turning around to some lad who is never going to vote for them, but is haranguing them nonetheless, and saying: "You sir, are clearly an a***hole. Please do us all a favour and f**k right off."

Adding to the leaders' stress is the fact that they are not just responsible for themselves, they're also responsible for every loose cannon in their party. Is there anything more stressful that being responsible for things over which you have no control.

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald during a seven way leaders General Election debate at the Virgin Media Studios in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald during a seven way leaders General Election debate at the Virgin Media Studios in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald during a seven way leaders General Election debate at the Virgin Media Studios in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

So, for example, you think you're doing well, managing not to tell anyone to f**k off, and then, out of the blue, one of your people casually tells a journalist that you're autistic, she shows complete ignorance of autism, and then, in explaining herself, manages to bring in the N-word into it. You literally couldn't make it up.

And you can't tell her to f**k off either.

And that's just the politicians. The rest of us need to be put out of our misery as well. How many more times do we need to watch these people telling us the same stuff, bombarding us with the same figures? And they mightn't be quite picking the figures out of their backsides, but we know we can rely on none of it to ever happen. Because this is just the kind of thing you do in an election, isn't it?

The only way they, and we, can get through this final week, is if we all agree, when the dust settles, that they will all go away for a long break, and the rest of us will not be bothered by politics for at least a month. The TV and the radio channels can play soothing music, and we will all sit in silence, eating ice-cream.

Sunday Independent


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