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The real reason this country is three TDs short of a full set...

DEPENDING on your personal story, you can find loads of examples of the Government riding rough-shod over the citizens of this country.

If you're in hospital, you're angry at cuts to healthcare services; if you're unemployed, it's the lack of support to finding a new job. If you're a taxpayer, you're furious at putting your children's children in hock for life with NAMA.

However, all of us should be annoyed at being played for fools by a lazy, scared government too petrified watching its own back to give us proper representation.

Many of us probably think 166 TDs is about 165 too many. We hate the idea of their massive expenses, their long holidays and their inflated salaries. Yet, we cherish our right to vote.

So what right does this Government have to deny us that vote? To reject our need to be represented? Well, in three constituencies it is doing just that.

Senator Pearse Doherty has been granted a judicial review to force a bye-election in Donegal South West -- a seat which has been left vacant for over a year since Pat Gallagher's move to Europe, in a case he took to the High Court.

The Government will now have to spend €100,000 of our money defending the indefensible. Leave aside for the minute that the Sinn Feiner is a likely candidate for the seat, the point remains that a judge has agreed that it is correct to attempt to uphold the Constitution to which we all abide.

It says that each of the 41 constituencies must have a set number of TDs -- no less than one for every 30,000 people. The north east, along with the other vacant seats in Waterford and Dublin South, each exceed the ratios currently. To leave them without an appropriate number of TDs to represent their opinions is scandalous.

Instead of giving a proper explanation, or declaring an immediate date for these three bye-elections, the Government has not only ignored the electorate but effectively told them they don't matter.


They're being perfectly well represented in Donegal, according to one Donegal incumbent, Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, despite being a legally required TD short.

Well if that is the case, then there is surely no better argument for reducing the number of TDs everywhere. Why should Donegal be the only one to manage with two TDs, a couple of Senators and an MEP? We should all be so lucky.

The Constitution points out that in the event of a General Election (we wish), a new Dail must sit within 30 days. This is to avoid over-prevarication in horse trading between parties. Unfortunately there is no such provision for a bye-election.

The truth is that the Government knows damn well that they will lose all three seats if they call the writ. So they treat us like children instead by denying us the right to have our say at all. They do not want to listen if the news will be bad.

This issue is merely a metaphor for their attitude to all the wider problems facing us. The Government is reluctant to allow us have our say on lots of things -- because it already knows the answer.

It won't dream of calling a full General Election; it won't allow us a referendum on NAMA; hell, it won't even get to grips with its own wayward backbenchers.

The judicial review will take place on October 18. The Government can enter a defence. We're dying to hear the excuse this time. Or, they could just see justice served themselves and hold the bye-elections.