Liz McManus Blog

I noticed a new blog appear on Planet of the Blogs today- Liz McManus, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
She’s clearly writing it herself.

I’m in favour of Ms. McManus, as she appeared to wish my Grandmother a happy birthday a few years ago at her house party. And now I’m glad to see that she’s writing in a place that potential voters (both for herself personally, and the Labour Party) can read her stuff. More politicians ought to be at this. (And the Labour Party in particular, given that at the next election they won’t have a single TD under 50.)

She mentioned that she’s regularly directing people to read policy papers on the Labour Party site, and would like feedback on them. In all honesty, that’s not really going to happen very often. Policy papers are dense, turgid things. And even when they aren’t, they sound like they’re going to be.

A better way to engage people’s imagination would be to give them a brief description on the blog of the policy- the kind you might give to a person you met in the pub. Then put in the link, so people whose interest has been piqued might be tempted to read more.

Though, in fairness, the labour.ie site is inponderably dull. If the policy papers are anything like the ones I tried to wade through a while back, there is a chance that interest might be rewarded only by a boredom induced coma.

6 Comments

  • Agreed – everthing (or at least summaries) should be in the blog. Great to see Liz blogging and as I’ve stated on my own blog I’m not going to be voting in the next election unless for a candidate who blogs.

  • Damien Blake says:

    [To preface my comments, I’m the Mayor of Letterkenny and have been blogging actively since June ’05]

    On my website, I try to include everything I can that is of relevance in the post. It’s vital; people don’t like following links.

    I’d also consider it important to try to keep the information together. Most people who visit my website are looking for a specific issue (eg planning, housing, the Fleadh Cheoil) and are coming in through Google. It’s much better to include all the relevant information possible on the one post.

    The blog has been a great resource, and I hope it will continue to be. It’s just a pity I don’t stand in James’ consituency of Limerick West!

  • Simon says:

    I had a look at Damien’s website there, and it is a very useful resource. I think it could serve very well as a model for other local representatives who were willing to find the information their voters wanted and put it in an easy to use format.

    Damien, I notice that you announce that Letterkenny will be getting CCTV shortly. Do you know, or are you in a position to find out, whether this will be tied in to the mooted Garda Automatic Number Plate Recognition scheme? see my post here for more details.

  • Damien Blake says:

    Simon,

    This CCTV system is going to be a self-contained, stand alone system, run by the local authority (funded under the current “Community Based” funding round).

    The system will be run with Letterkenny Town Council as “Data Monitor”. We’ll be in charge of the operation and maintenance of the system, but more importantly the elected members will be in charge of all the policy surrounding the system. It is intended to be a system to help the Gardai, but all requests to access the system will have to be made in line with the policy we set out.

    If the policy needs changed, the elected (publicily accountable) members will be able to change it. That’s not possible with many other systems.

    I am aware of the numerous issues regarding the Civil Liberties concerns with CCTV systems. I also believe there’s a balance to be struck, and I hope we can do that here in Letterkenny.

    Thanks for your kind words on my site.

    Damien

  • Simon says:

    Thanks for that Damien, its good of you to come back on the question.

    To clarify- when you say that the elected members will be responsible for policy as to how the cameras are used, would that policy include co-operating with a traffic monitoring database, if the Gardai requested it? And would you have the right to opt-in or out as you saw fit?

  • Damien Blake says:

    There’s been no approach as yet to the council regarding any connections with any other systems. The Gardai (locally) have helped in our application, but have not been leading it in any specific direction, nor have they made any requests or recommendations regarding technology.

    The Council has been slow to support the system so far, that is to say they’ve cautiously supported it. The policy regarding who gets to access the system still has to be finalised; we’re probably a year away from seeing the cameras in place.

    I don’t believe the council would support connecting our cameras to any wider system of any sort, particularly one as long-lasting as the Number Plate recognition system mentioned in the article you quote above.

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