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Sinead Ryan: Is this our next Lord Mayor? Let's hope not

Be afraid, be very afraid. I'm talking about the forthcoming election of the new Dublin mayor due to be held this year.

And it has me worried.

With all the disaffection towards our political leaders, isn't there a big danger that we'll end up electing a 'celebrity' candidate rather than someone who can do the job?

We seem more enchanted by someone who appears in our newspapers or on telly regularly than a professional politician who has worked their way up from lowly councillor to Cabinet minister, and if they're a bit of eye candy to boot, all the better.

I'll bet if the likes of Rosanna Davison, Sharon Ni Bheolain or Grainne Seoige showed even a glimmer of political bias, then main parties would be all over them like a rash.

We don't seem to hold our politicians in much regard, certainly at the moment, but it is an alarmingly difficult profession and needs people with hard necks to do it.

George Lee wasn't up to it, for all his expertise and popularity -- his frustration at the slow pace of change and the constant posturing and outbursts in the Dail proved too much for him. Wanting to make a difference got in the way of keeping the show going.

Getting elected was the easy bit due to his famous face. Working the system is a different kettle of fish, unless it's ingrained in you -- or your family. The new mayor may well be given a big budget and more power, but he or she will still have to play the political game every step of the way.

Demanding

With our penchant for wanting high-profile people in important jobs, there's every chance that a party who puts up a well-known face will win the day. The Greens themselves have said as much, promising a 'high calibre' candidate. You may as well read 'celebrity', since the party itself has no high calibre anything to offer.

Listen to any radio talk show and you'll hear people demanding Michael O'Leary or David McWilliams stand for election. They see go-getting business abilities and think that'll work in politics. Well, it doesn't. Even the last Presidential election looked in danger of being overshadowed by Dana -- although she at least gave 'real' politics a go in the end.

It seems as if we value people we see on the telly more than those we see in the Dail.

So instead of career politicians who know how to schmooze the egos will we get Twink, Gaybo or Dustin the Turkey?

We can't hope to change the system with a few well-known faces.

Let's hope the various parties keep their celebrity hunting to a minimum and do us all a favour.

Bobsleigh heroines refused to let their Olympics place just slip away

Finally some good news: our own Cool Runnings team can finally compete in the Winter Olympics.

But after the objection of the Australian team (yes, clearly as well known for snow sports as we are), that they ought to be included on the grounds that they came from somewhere called Oceania (is that near Atlantis?), it seems they get to join the snowball fight after all as the 21st team.

Are there shades of deja vu here or is it just me? I seem to recall a similar stunt -- er, brave attempt -- by another team for last-minute inclusion in some class of a football competition which was laughed off amid great slagging.

Well, no matter. The lovely duo of Claire Bergin and Aoife Hoey are now set to give us a day out. Let's hope the distraction of fighting their corner gives them more than a snowball's chance in hell of a medal -- but hey, we have a ready made excuse if not.

We've had some great sporting moments over the last year, which have given our spirits a much-needed rise. It seems everything else might be going down the pan, but our athletes continue to give us cheer. From our rubgy team to our boxers, we're proving that we punch well above our weight in international sporting events.

Good luck to the girls. Oh, and maybe it's time we had a National Conversation about demanding our rights again in that other thing we never qualified for either... Just a thought.

I don't want a flu jab -- so stop needling me, please

I thought the whole swine flu palaver was over. So why did I get ANOTHER notice about the jab from school?

The TV news has stopped showing daily updates from Chief Medical Officer Dr Holohan after numbers dwindled to the tea lady and a secretary at the Department of Health.

Nobody's dying from it and the panic has taken on the dimensions of the salt mountains now building since the last ice melt of a few weeks ago. So I'm not getting my kids (or myself) vaccinated. If we get the flu, we get the flu. We're strong and healthy.

I hope the vaccine has now been given to everyone who needs or wants it. I don't. And I don't want any more notes about it. Oh, and can we sell the remaining vaccines and get our money back and use it to fund something important? Will they take the salt, too?

Another year older, but at least I get cards on Valentine's

There's a very special occasion coming up this weekend.

There'll be candles, flowers and a nice dinner out.

No, not Valentine's. It's my birthday and it always clashes with lovey dovey day.

It's a bit like having your birthday at Christmas -- everyone else gets caught up in the excitement, but not for your benefit.

The restaurants are overpriced, hard to book and I get more than my fair share of heart-themed gifts. But, hey ho, I'm used to it by now.

For everyone else, have a lovely day and hopefully a nice surprise will come your way.

We all need a bit of lovin' at the moment.

One reality TV show I'd really like to see

I'm very excited by RTE's announcement of its latest reality TV show 'I'm A Celebrity -- No Really, I Am'. Apparently it'll be hosted by Bill Cullen as a recession-busting edition of The Apprentice where the ultimate prize is a €150,000-a-year job in RTE.

In line with financial constraints, there'll only be two celebrity candidates: George Lee and Charlie Bird, who are both eager to return to the fold.

Charlie has scotched rumours that he will be reduced to putting himself up for election in Dublin South if he doesn't win. Given his latest whining and moaning, he'll be capturing the mood of the electorate perfectly and will no doubt romp home into George's hastily vacated seat.


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