Friday, January 26, 2007

Representing or representative?

The Tony Killeen saga drags on. According to our friends in the fourth estate he is coming under increasing pressure to resign. From where? Bertie? Killeen's defence appears modelled on the Bart Simpson mantra of 'I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, you can't prove anything.'

It is quite unlikely that he will stand aside at this point though the view taken by the Irish Sundays will tell all in the end. I suspect in the various publications at the weekend there will be an effort to move the issue on from specific to the general.

The unfortunate people in all this are the family and friends of Robert Lynch. For them it is much more than a conversation piece about the specifics of a letter from a junior minister and it is entirely about the personal loss they have suffered. Perhaps, if Killeen or his 'people' had made some effort to check the facts they might have been spared all the raking over their loss.

The odd thing is that many people in the meeja are choosing to talk about how this is all bundled up with the work of TDs in asking questions and making representations to organs of the state. Does it strike no one as wrong that in republic that a civil servant should answer a question from one citizen when in the guise of a TD while stonewalling other citizens?

I've had half post in my mind for the last 6 months about the difference between TDs and other public reps representing us instead of being representative of us. The Irish electorate has always exhibited a preference for TDs who they feel are one of them or like themselves. This is all well and good but kind of defeats the point of a democracy. You see the point is to elect people who will represent you to the best of their ability on the issues of day, not to be representative of the kind of person you actually are. Certainly, the TD should represent your views on matters political but we tend not to worry so much about that at election time rather it is often of more concern that the TD look and sound like you.

In essence my view is that TDs are meant to be professionals at their job of working for us. I might think it a good thing that I get on with the plumber when he calls to fix a problem with the boiler but I really do not want him to be like me when it comes to fixing the plumbing or we'll all be drowned inside of 15 minutes. I believe he should be better at doing his job than I would at it. That is why I pay him to do it and don't do it myself.

Sadly, we've done the complete opposite when it comes to public reps and elected captains of football teams and the popular lad from school or the friendly auctioneer, or the lassie who hold a tune. Sure, we've lucked in sometimes in that a number of them have proved up to the job they've ended up with, the depressing fact is that for the most part we ended up with TDs who do no better than if they had been randomly selected as our representatives much like happens for jury duty. And they get the run around from civil servants who are selected for their ability to do their jobs.

Is it any wonder we have Martin Cullen as minister for transport?

No comments: