Elections are moments of truth- when we get as close as we can to really hearing what other people are thinking, albeit as a collective.
And one of the more interesting things I’ve heard from this election was the general feeling (except from some Green party members) that having the Green Party in government could only be a good thing. A Fianna Fail supporter, for example, said to me that they hadn’t voted for the Greens, but they thought it would be good to have their views reflected in Government.
There is, as Eric Morcombe used to say, no answer to that.
However, there is another election coming up- within a few weeks, in fact. The Senead Elections are underway. Depending on which panel they’re standing for, the candidates are pressing the flesh of county councillors across the land or union officials or horse breeders etc.
One of the panels, completely unreasonably I admit, is solely for graduates of the colleges of the National University of Ireland. And one of the candidates for that panel this year is Rory Bremner look-alike and tireless articulator for the Shell to Sea campaign Dr. Mark Garavan of NUI Galway.
He’ll be getting my number one this time. I’d like to urge you, if you are an NUI graduate, to do the same. And, because I don’t think you’ll necessarily be following my every urging blindly I thought I’d set out some of the reasons why.
Firstly, Shell to Sea have put forward the arguments against the Corrib Gas project in a rational fashion. This could never be easy, as anyone involved in such an emotional situation can imagine. But they’ve remained reasoned and cogent, even in the face of overwhelming disinterest (pre-jailings) followed by provocation (post-jailling) and then finally retreat by Shell. I number Dr. Garavan high amongst the figures who ensured that this happened.
Secondly, better than merely being a one issue candidate for the Seanad, the good Doctor is actually applying the extreme experiences of the Corrib Gas project participants to our wider society. The arguments he is making, and the position he is seeking to represent boil down to one belief.
He earns his number one from me for two reasons. For the work he’s done to date in trying (unpaid, of course) to represent the views of people who, for a long time, had nobody to speak for them. And for the work he could do in the future in applying that ability to be a voice for the voiceless to the national stage.
If FF supporters can recognise the value of the Green’s views in cabinet, I don’t think that you would have to share Shell to Sea’s aims to acknowledge the value of their contribution. The Seanad University Panels have a proud history of electing maverick voices just when we need to hear from them most. I hope you, the NUI graduate voter reading this, will vote Number one for Mark Garavan and carry on that tradition.
Voting Note: Don’t forget to ask your parents if your voting card has arrived to their house. Its estimated that approximately 25% of the NUI Seanad Panel are dead. The rest have the wrong address. You’ve to contact your own college Admin to update them or ask for a card, if you haven’t got one.