Bouncy Castles

We are just in the door. Along with my wife we made the short journey to the local polling station to cast our first votes as denizens of a state run by Irish citizens. A neighbour looked after the kids while we were away. She had a bouncy castle in her back garden as part of festivities around her daughter’s birthday. I am still thinking the kids did the more sensible thing. Birthday parties seem more useful to society than political parties and no child would disagree with that. They did not even notice our absence and there was no way we could have persuaded them to go voluntarily to a polling station.

A major difference between polling stations here and in the North is the complete lack of in-your-face canvassing as you enter. Half anticipating what in the North is the obligatory leaflet pushed into your hand instructing you on how to vote down the line, we were pleasantly surprised to go free from accost as we made our way to the booth. A cursory glance at our identification documents by electoral staff was the only thing to temporarily halt our progress. Another feel good factor was no sign of the Nuremburg factor - where the front of the polling station is bedecked with flags and party insignia watched over as if they were regimental colours by men of military age.

My wife’s political views and my own are not the same so we had no pre-arranged plan as to who we would vote for. I suppose the only thing I can say for both of us is that the one party that did not get a vote from this house was Sinn Fein. Experience has taught us that whatever it stands for today it will abandon tomorrow. It has plenty of promise in that it will promise you anything but fulfil nothing. It might be different if the party were to jettison its right wing Northern leadership, which has a heroin-like addiction to lying. Which means it can be trusted with nothing. Until that ditching happens, out of the many things I might cast in its direction a vote will not be one of them. No point in changing a 16 year habit.

How my wife voted is a matter for her. She holds to the view that her vote is between her and the polling booth. No point in exercising the democratic right to the secret ballot and then broadcast your choice to everybody. I am not so discreet. In the contest for the borough and County Councils I gave my vote to the same Independent candidate, a former Sinn Fein member who seems good on local issues and is quite Left in orientation. For the European election I voted Labour. Not that I agree with much of what Labour do but out of all the candidates theirs will at least subscribe in some way to a left discourse no matter how softly or minimalist it may be. And a slightly Left voice that is not totalitarian is better than no Left voice. On each of the three papers I worked my way down through the candidates allocating a lower preference with each stroke of a very blunt pencil. Libertas, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein slots were left blank. The Catholic Right, The Treaty party of the South, the Treaty party of the North. Black Shirts, Blue Shirts and Green Shirts. No chance. Better to save the depleted lead for more worthy things.

On our way back to pick up the kids and disturb their joyous bouncing, the Sinn Fein car passed us, its message blaring through the megaphone – ‘vote for change.’ The change from their hefty Westminster expense accounts I thought is the only change on offer there. Given our brushes with the party we found it amusing that its canvassers should pass us booming their message. My wife said something to the effect of ‘echoes from Belfast.’ Not that we were concerned as we sauntered along, homeward bound. We were laughing and jesting loudly ‘vote for change – we will change the way we lie to you.’ We didn’t direct it at them and they didn’t hear us. A joke between us but people passing us must have thought we had just come from the pub rather than the polling station.

On reflection I suppose it might have been better if we had. Pints before politicians.


  1. I voted for independent left-wing candidates, though they haven't a hope in my constituency. What do you think of Joe Higgins as a politician, Anthony?

  2. Alfie, my biggest regret about living in this constituency is that I was unable to vote for Joe. Had I have been in Dublin he would have got no 1

  3. Word is you were on the Bouncy Castle keepin the kids off it. A bit like Northern politics are Bouncy Castles no one knows were they are going to land.

  4. I voted yesterday. Always vote. What struck me yesterday as I headed out of the polling station was that I had voted in three elections for my representatives on elected bodies yet I hardly have any idea what those elected bodies do. Bray Town Council? Wicklow County Council? European Parliament?

    Of the three, I think I grasp best the European Parliament, but that might simply be because I'm more certain that I don't know what the local bodies do.

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