OPINION: How Kildare's political landscape has been 'unremarkable' since Charlie McCreevey's departure

Columnist Robert Mulhern looks at current politics in the county

OPINION: How Kildare's political landscape has been 'unremarkable' since Charie McCreevey's departure

Former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy (pictured MAIN at a 2009 GAA fundraiser, with Kildare star Johnny Doyle and Dermot Early in Clane).

Some of the big issues in Kildare have probably always been thus.

Housing, health (the latest crisis in Naas Hospital) and increasingly, fast access to the capital for a commuter belt growing ever more reliant on Dublin economically.

I know this because I’m in and out of Kildare often enough to feel it, hear it and, just so I don’t forget, I receive regular press releases from local TDs whose updates land weekly in the inbox of my email.

Kildare isn’t unlike Meath or Wicklow or any other county in this regard, but then I don’t receive emails from their TDs and after 10 plus years in this industry, I’ve long come to the conclusion that the vast majority of these emails say little and mean less.

Truth is, I can’t remember the last time a local TD said something or did something that made me feel like I wanted to punch the air, or left me with a feeling that I wanted to sign up and join their fight.

This in itself is cause for alarm.

We’re in period of rapid change and most worryingly in the context of the above problems, the population of Kildare is projected to grow significantly and heap more pressure, on health, housing and transport.

Yet against this backdrop, I can’t shake off a general feeling of political inertia and a lack of new ideas that might adequately address them.

The biggest shape thrown by any local politician in recent years was the stand Catherine Murphy made against the business might of Denis O’Brien, last year.

This kind of neck-on-the-line leadership is a rare thing in our democracy, just like a dearth of real imagination by our local representatives.

This might sound unfair. I couldn’t possibly know the depth of constituency work being carried out by our TDs in different parts of the county, but personally speaking I expect this work as the most basic job requirement of an elected official.

Just like a good sports pro, you don’t get plaudits for applying yourself to the fundamentals of your profession, however earnestly, but for the kind of ambition that rewards, adventure, creativity and at the same time could leave you on the flat of your back if you dare to fail.

But since the departure of Charlie McCreevey, the political landscape in Kildare has felt pretty unremarkable.

This is no fillip for our former Minister for Finance.

I too took a hit for loosely regulated banking landscape that became a legacy of his tenure.

But at the same time it was down to me that I used my savings from his novel SSIA scheme to help with a house deposit and his risk reward strategy did lower corporation tax, bring a spike in foreign direct investment and create jobs.

More damning in my book is the kind of risk-averse politician which makes Dail Eireann feel like a vista of empty suits, all pretty much saying the same thing, and minus the kind of thinking and daring that can bring about real change.

Catherine Murphy’s Dail moment aside, I’ve read nothing, heard nothing and seen nothing that could justify elevating our local political leaders onto a higher plane of performance and increasingly that’s something we should demand.

In this landscape of quick fixes, the same old faces and what feels like the same old thinking, I’m more interested in the future beyond next week, next month or even next year.

For transport that means something infinitely bigger than car and road based solutions.

For housing, that means some kind of creativity that can help move home ownership back to a more attainable reality, rather than an increasingly unrealistic ambition.

As for health, that’s probably going to take an education based solution as well as a move to greater efficiency.

Of course, it may be the case that bold visions with regards to same already exist among our public representatives and I’ve missed them? 

If so, please email any such strategies, when you send your next press release.

Robert Mulhern is a London based journalist contracted to RTE's The Documentary on One. To contact our columnist, email mulhernrobert@hotmail.com

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