Welcome to the new boys - mark keaveney and ciaran cannon. I wish them well in their new positions as TD's. I do not share the same warm feeling with the other two men returned to power because both are chips off the old blocks. Mick Kitt inherited his seat from his late father and youngPaul Connaughton is his father's son (though the old boy has made way for the gassoon before shuffling off this mortal coil). In other words, both are carrying on the well-established tradition of dynastic inheritance. There are greater curses in Irish politics, of course, but in a small country, where everyone knows everyone else and most people are at least married to someone with a tangle of connections to their credit, the fewer relatives you've got the cleaner you can look to a jaundiced electorate. Having said that I came close, if only in jest, to claiming Mary Hanafin as a distant connection. Maybe this was what did for her.
Anyway, here we are in the bright new Ireland and there is no better time to remind the lads that they only have their seats on lease. Now that the electorate has got a taste for chucking politician out, if they don't perform, they could be out too.
And on this score a visit from a handsome young man brought to mind one of the serious problems that generations of Fianna Fail power has left us with. In a word cynicism. The young man was dishing out census papers (or almost small books). He turned out to be an archaeologist by training, and therefore, by definition, unemployed. We had a very pleasant talk about the census and he offered to lead me through it if necessary. What a good idea - give the few remaining young and educated people a chance to earn a bit more than they'd get on the dole. Then a few days later, I heard of another case where a retired teacher had bagged herself one of these numbers, even though she is already in receipt of a state pension. And this is where the cynicism comes back to haunt me. Can it be that there are no other people left in the country without a state pension. Now I come to think of it even I get one - just for being old. Maybe you just have to give the retired teachers and guards these little windfalls because there's simply noone else left? Thought actually I know this is not the case for a friend of mine applied for some jobeen on the census circuit. This friend is one of the most competent women I have come across as well as being very plasant to meet. She realised she had not got the gig when the Department failed to get in touch with her and she was resigned to it when she ran into one of the members of the interviewing panel who assessed her case. She asked him why she'd failed the test. Looking shifty, he muttered that the decision wasn't his. So, who's was it? Of course these appointments were made under the Old Dispensation, but in the new Ireland will they continue?Who you know being more important that what you know, and everyone knowing that this is the way to get ahead -by unchallenged corruption.
When Ciaran and Mark are finished putting the big things right, I hope - I really do hope, they'll do something to give us all, a straight and clean playing field.