Dear Politicians Seeking My Vote…

You’re likely not coming to my door, given the big gate and the secure apartment block, but sure, I’d like you to know my needs anyway. It seems everyone else is getting a fair whack at letting you know exactly what is on their minds. An election has been called and in less than three weeks, we’ll be standing in primary schools and community centres around the country, scribbling our votes in tiny booths and choosing the fate of our country for up to the next five years. I say up to, because I’m not sure how long it will last given the current composition of what is ahead. So, here we go.

Dear Politicians Seeking My vot

I don’t know who to vote for. This is my second national election, the last one in 2011 I was sure, I was set in my vote. A vote I’ve since regretted, as it got them into government and the last five years have shown them to betray their promises on the doorsteps and in the big speeches. My constituency, Cork South Central, has a variety of candidates, some experienced and lots of fresh faces.

Here are the things mattering to me this Election Season; candidates take note:

Education Equality

As a mother to a tiny heathen, who doesn’t wish to baptise her child into any particular religion that we don’t follow based solely on need to get them into a school, this is a key component in what will make me want to vote for you. the practice of segregating four year olds based on what their parents beliefs (or lack of them) are is ridiculous, it’s unfair and it doesn’t fit with the Ireland our children should be growing up in. As it is, I am left with the choice of hoping that the list for our local Educate Together school will allow for my child to start school in 2018/2019 but as we didn’t have his name down from the second the C-Section was finished, that is looking unlikely – or to go against my morals and baptise my child to ensure he can get a place in any of the other schools in the area. I wrote more about this issue here – it’s something I want dealt with by the next government to ensure my child gets equal chances in education to every other child in the country regardless of creed or faith.

Repeal the 8th

As a young woman of child bearing years, I have never had the opportunity to vote on abortion legislation in our country. As a result, the views of a generation ahead of ours who it no longer affects are what keeps Ireland holding back what is considered to be straight forward health care in many parts of the world.  What country can say that it is right to export our problem, to make women with fatal foetal abnormalities in much wanted pregnancies travel to a different country to end their child’s suffering? Most party politicians are avoiding this issue like the plague but it is something that cannot be ignored. The progress made by the current government is not far enough, not by half.

Mental Health

Our psychiatric health service is an absolute shambles. It seems little is being done by the powers that be to ensure a service which is workable for the general public. Surprise, surprise, the vast majority of need for mental health services isn’t something which can be just told to be patient and wait for their turn in the waiting list. Nor does it arise between Monday and Friday, 9-5 and take bank holidays off too. Families around the country are being affected by suicide and depressed family members, patients of an overwhelmed service are being told they’ll be seen “when a space comes up”, and some having to weigh up whether or not they can afford the litany of medications which are being prescribed for them. Mental illnesses are chronic illnesses but in this country they are seen as inconveniences and it seems that no matter how many cycles or campaigns we do, it is still the elephant in the political room, that if we close our eyes and hope enough will go away. Just over ten years ago, we had a tragedy in my own Wexford where a woman who went to seek help from a mental health facility was turned away as it was after closing time on Friday, and wound up walking into the sea with her two little girls, seeing no other way out of her situation. I wish I could say things have changed, but recent news about the tragic death of Caoilte O Broin, and things I’ve seen happening to friends and family who have reached out for help have shown me otherwise. It’s a system in need of overhaul, not ignoring, and this is something I would like to see the next government get behind a Health Minister on.

Childcare and Return to the Workplace

My last wish which I’ll get into in this post is one which affects many more than me – the impetus on return to the workplace for parents, and the effect of spiralling childcare costs on this. I consider myself extremely lucky to be in a position where we can afford to have our child in (albeit part time) crèche care – this is not a reality available to many parents around the country. In the last five years, moves have been brought in to “encourage” single mothers to return to the workplace, by cutting off a form of income which would have been considered vital in many homes, the single parent allowance. What needs to be addressed is that without fixing the system of exhorbitant childcare costs, it will be impossible for many to return to work, as employers are unlikely to be as flexible as required to work around a school day. It is hard enough to be a working parent with a child in childcare – you spend much of your life praying they don’t fall sick meaning one of you has to leave work to take care of them – but to be forced into a position by cutting off a form of income which could readily throw families into the poverty bracket, that is reprehensible and something which needs to be amended by the incoming government. It isn’t a case of the childcare professionals charging too much – they have to pay their employees a decent wage for what I would consider a very difficult job – it is that our government spending needs to work towards ensuring this service is funded better in order to make it possible for parents to return to work and join the tax paying masses who will contribute to the economy. It’s not that difficult to see that this approach, rather than forcing the hand of those in that position, is the better way to go.

So, dear candidates, those are my wishes. I’d be thrilled to hear anything you’ve got to say – since you’re not rocking up on my doorstep any time soon or replying to emails, perhaps this might do the trick. Who will get my vote? It remains to be seen.

How about you – what are your big ticket issues towards who gets your vote this election? Let me know in the comments below!



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