Council Affairs: Weary warriors slump towards local elections

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

In seven months from now we will have a whole new plethora of councillors taking their seats on Limerick City and County Council.

There will be some new faces – many of them Sinn Féin if the polls are to be believed – and a host of old faces too. No doubt too a couple of auld relics from the dinosaur age that neither meteorites nor political winds of change could shift.

A few of those I’ve spoken to in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are expecting a bit of a hammering. They’re predicting casualties, so they seem less than motivated at the moment for the race ahead.

There’s a sense of unease out there. See, people are rightfully peeved off and want to be fed a different quality of meadow muffin. But will that last past June or will the Government throw us a few more last minute tax breaks to keep us appeased?

The words of Martin Luther King seem to be finally resonating with people and there’s a shift afoot in the political hierarchy, however short-lived it may be.

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“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right,” the civil rights activist once said.

But come here to me now, politics is a funny old game and between now and next June anything could happen.

For the most part, we are all creatures of habit full of our old guff, so I wouldn’t be ruling out the lads and lassies from ‘FFG’ just yet. When it comes down to it, most of us giving out about them will probably go out and vote them right back in anyway. Personally I think we’ve been burned once too often.

Anyways, the old guard are masters in the dark arts, real crafty fiends altogether, and will fight tooth and nail for their place at the next sitting at the local authority table. They might be feeling a bit dejected at the moment, but when the new year rings in they will be slipperier than snot on a brass doorknob.

Most of what we are hearing on social media is background noise, and while Sinn Féin are certainly gearing up for a bumper season at the polls, the tides can change overnight and all it will take is one controversy for the whole thing to go arse over tit.

The Local Elections, in fairness, are the Vauxhall Conference to the General Election’s Champions League, but they could still be a dry run for what’s to follow.

We could see a major culling in the local authority herd. But then, of course, it could just be business as usual.

As I always say, the Locals are more about people than parties. People go out and give their number one to the candidate that helped get them that granny flat or street light and to hell with the sh-te talk out of Leo and Micheál up in Leinster House. The politics of the parish pump is about communities and getting things done at local level, the real nitty gritty. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. That kind of cráic.

I mean, do people even care enough about the bigger picture to take aim at the foot soldiers of power in the Local Elections? Time will tell.

Even if they don’t, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and let’s not forget Green Party councillors, are feeling the squeeze and will be enduring squeaky bum time right to the finishing line. They aren’t looking more trim from pounding the pavement, let me tell you.

But what power do councillors really have anyway? After the great castration that came with the amalgamation of the city and county councils back in 2014, they have little or no gallop left, and anyway, won’t the Directly Elected Mayor be pulling their strings this time next year?

We all know it will be the bigwigs in Dublin that will be yanking their chain, so the local authority is about to be watered down even more if you ask me.

By the time they are through, there will be a top up of unsavoury pollutants in our governance, making it all the more unpalatable – and it already has bit of an auld aftertaste off it. Councillors will soon enough be as useless as a condom machine in the Vatican.

As ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

It’s easy hide behind a computer screen and give out about councillors who do their best, but if you want real change, run away with the circus.