Mick Wallace @fafner84 Thanks for your kind words...
Mick Wallace RT @redfishstream: "Italia got more solidarity from China and Cuba than it got from Europe." Irish Member of the European Parliament Mick…
Mick Wallace How in God's name can joining #NATO be in interest of people of North Macedonia? - More unnecessary spend on Milit… https://t.co/lC29IWtLbJ
Mick Wallace The #US could only treat #Cuba as it does with the complicity of the #EuropeanUnion - which cuts a sad figures as… https://t.co/js5TJIEJH8
It’s been a hectic few days – of first speeches, disappointing Dáil pints and the setting up of a technical group of Independents – but the important thing for Wexford’s poll-topping new TD is to change the political culture. I’ve been to Leinster House, have spoken in the Dáil chamber, have met a lot of people I hadn’t met before, and I’m still in one piece. Before I decided to run for election, on the way to Vincent Browne’s current-affairs programme on TV3, I did try to envisage just what it would be like if I were elected. Running for election was always going to be an interesting experience but not such a big deal. Getting elected was a more serious matter. Work and challenges have been meat and drink to me for much of my life, but it’s a bit different when you are placed in a position of influence or authority by the people, and almost 13,500 of them at that. I’ve never been very comfortable with the idea of asking someone for anything or, for that matter, of being at their mercy. But I’ve spent the past month travelling the length and breadth of Co Wexford, running from door to door saying, “Will you vote for me? Will you vote for me?”, going on to top the poll, becoming part of a technical group of Independents, and then, on Wednesday, having my first day in the Dáil. In my own head I did occupy that place in the Dáil before I decided to put my name on the ballot paper. I feared that I stood a good chance of success. I have a friend at home in Wexford called Phil Walsh, who has always insisted that he never met fear. My experience was different: I often met it, but I just kept going. Going into Leinster House is a new experience, of course, but, still, it’s not like I’m a green, wide-eyed boy of 25 years old. I’m 55 years of age and I’ve lived a full, demanding, varied and interesting life to date. Every day is just another day, and it’s a good day if I feel well, mentally and physically. I went up to the big house on Kildare Street a few times last week, to organise a few things and meet some of the staff. I had never been inside before, but I had paved the footpath just outside the gates. My first impression was that the place was very formal, a little state of its own within a state. There is a sense of detachment from the real world outside, and I would certainly recommend to potential entrants that they serve their time in the latter before immersing themselves in the former. I don’t do formal very well, and, in fairness to the staff, who could not be more pleasant, many of them have become more casual too as they’ve noticed that I’m a bit allergic to pomp and ceremony. But I do suspect that the different-world feel inside Leinster House plays its own part in the disconnect that so many people in the country experience with that same establishment. On Tuesday we met to put our technical group in place, in order to maximise our speaking rights in the Dáil chamber and put us on a fairer footing with the main parties. It’s a bit shocking that as an individual Independent one could spend five years in the place and never get an opportunity to speak in the chamber. So much for democracy. But given that the notion of democracy, even at local level, is more imaginary than real, I should not be surprised. Setting up the technical group was not a complicated affair. No political allegiances or policy agreements were required, and the wily Joe Higgins knew his way around the detail. For sure, there is a nice bit of variety in the group – that much we could agree on. Wednesday, my first day in the chamber, was interesting. It was crowded both outside and inside the gates of Leinster House, and there was much interest in what I was wearing. The media, and the people in general, are interested in “different”, and I do different better than I do formal. I did wear pink and, at my 87-year-old mother’s prompting, I wore a more regular shirt than usual. Hopefully, in time, the media will be more interested in what I do or say than in what I wear. I did get my say in the chamber too. I wasn’t sure if the opportunity would present itself, but the new Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett, was more than fair. In the few minutes I had I managed to make a few points to the Taoiseach-elect: that the notion of taxpayers paying for the bank bailout in order to please the ECB was illogical and unfair, and should be put to a referendum; that the Government should help the house to function like a proper healthy parliament, engaging all of its members, including the Opposition; that political reform was required to address the fact that the people do not feel well served by the political process; that the Government should be mindful of putting the people’s interests before those of big business; and, finally, that at the end of its term the Government should be content to have its performance measured in terms of how it cared for the most vulnerable in society rather than in terms of the strength of our GDP – the true test of a functioning democracy. All told, it was a good day. I wished Enda Kenny well, spoke to many of the deputies from all parties and found most of them pleasant. I thought the seats were very comfortable, but I was disappointed by the quality of the Guinness in the bar. None of my four children came along, as they had other things to be doing and are probably tired of listening to me anyway. Now for the challenge ahead. Walking around Wexford and Dublin I have got so much encouragement from people who recognise me, and most of it is of the “well done,best of luck and don’t let them get you down” variety. It seems a lot of people think that the bureaucracy will prove too much for me, and I’ll either walk or be driven out of the place. On the day I was elected three sitting TDs told me how terrible the job was and I didn’t know what I was putting myself in for, but I was amused by how keen the same people were to get back into the same terrible job. Not for the first time, I’ve raised my head above the parapet. My challenge to the status quo, locally in particular, has not been short of mud-slinging by those who do not seek change. Some people like it just the way it is. I seem to have upset a cosy set-up, and no doubt my refusal to engage in parish-pump politics will keep the home fires burning, while the political slant of the local media will add to the agenda. But I intend to keep my word. Of course I will engage with issues in Co Wexford that should concern me, but I am not going to start canvassing for the next election now, as many are wont to do. When it does come around, the people will decide whether they want me to represent them or not. If they do, that’s good; if they don’t, that’s fine too. I will try to deal with the challenge to the best of my ability, and I will call it as it is. This article originally appeared in the Irish Times on Saturday, 12 March 2011

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