Apologies to all for my failure to keep you up to date on my comings and goings as Deputy Lord Mayor and a big thanks to the Aosdana member who urged me (I kid you not) to get back to my keyboard and to keep banging out the musings of a disgruntled public representative.
Well the end of my reign as Deputy Lord Mayor has arrived and I have to revert to being an ordinary human being again. No longer can I claim to speak for the million plus citizens who occupy our capital city by virtue of the votes of twenty-six Dublin City Councillors I received last June. Indeed it may be the highest office that I ever hold, and so it was with a heavy heart that I handed back my chain and relinquished the dubious honour of being called ‘Deputy Lord Mayor’.
When I assumed the role last year, it was on a bittersweet night in City Hall. There are few nights as exciting as the election of the Lord Mayor as quite literally anything can happen in the chamber and quite regularly, a councillor has walked in with their acceptance speech held tightly in their fist, only to see their chances explode in front of their eyes. The realisation that your dreams are going to be dashed is not a sinking feeling – it is more like an explosion.
Last year’s drama was more than a year in the making, when our majority on the Council was upset by the expulsion from Fine Gael of a Northside councillor, who then felt compelled to spoil the election of our Labour candidate Paddy Bourke by returning to the chamber after an absence of several months and by casting a vote in favour of the opposing candidate. The votes were then tied at twenty-six apiece and it came down to picking a name out of a hat. We all sat broken-hearted as Paddy Bourke’s name was left behind in the headpiece. It was the second time that Paddy had walked out of City Hall chain-less, having expecting to be calling the removal van in the morning and giving directions to the Mansion House.
When it came to the election of the Deputy Lord Mayor, it seemed that the exact same process would be played out. However, inexplicably, one Sinn Féin councillor abstained which meant that I was elected by 26 votes to 25. I can remember vividly sitting in my seat squirming at the thought of having my name in a hat with another councillor knowing that whenever that occurred in primary school I was always left disappointed. I gave an acceptance speech saying that the ambition of politicians must not be to wear chains of office, but to break chains of disadvantage. This is something that I care deeply about as there can be no more odious a sight than a little known local politician straining to get into the camera shot with a chunk of gold hanging from around his brass neck at the opening of the annual Bally-go-backwards flower show.
Politics is about making a difference. About challenging the status quo when the status quo keeps some sections of our society down at heel. We must challenge racism, illiteracy, poverty, suicide, homelessness and the power of vested interests that think primarily about lining their pockets at the expense of a brighter future for the wider community. I will not have the platform of the Deputy Mayoralty with which to further that agenda but I enjoyed the year that I had. It’s a humbling experience representing your city and I received many opportunities to do so last year. It’s back to basics from now on though. I wish the new Lord Mayor Paddy Bourke and Deputy Lord Mayor Anne Carter every success in the upcoming year.