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Wednesday, May 03, 2006
IF ever we needed proof that power breeds arrogance, we heard it from the radio contributions of Deputy Seán Fleming and the Minister for Community, Gaeltacht and Rural Affairs, Eamon Ó Cuiv, on April 28.
Both are intelligent people with great political integrity. Yet both displayed that arrogance and intolerance of opposing views that is characteristic of politicians who are drunk on power and in denial that they have any faults.
On the one hand, Deputy Fleming, on RTÉ radio, had the temerity to state there was nothing wrong with the non-verifiable system of electronic voting which the Government proposed to introduce before the last local elections.
According to Deputy Fleming, the critics of the system did not have a case.
Minister Ó Cuiv, on Today FM meanwhile, railed against media critics of those who exercised power on our behalf.
He declared them to be cynical and irresponsible.
Deputy Fleming and Minister Ó Cuiv are highly articulate politicians carrying out responsible jobs with aplomb. Yet both think that criticising the corruptible and non-verifiable e-voting system is wrong. Both, therefore, show a total disregard for the rules underlying the functioning of a healthy democracy.
Firstly, these are based on free elections that can’t be manipulated.
Contrary to Deputy Fleming’s assertion, the proposed non-verifiable e-voting system would have allowed a small number of people with access to the machines and the programmes on which they were based to write the result of every future election with impunity.
Secondly, the rules governing a healthy democracy are based on the freedom of ordinary people to express views critical of people who exercise power on their behalf without being intimidated and denounced by having the finger pointed at them.
Some members of the press may indeed abuse that power, but we interfere with it at our peril.
It is hypocritical of members of government to criticise media opinion when they spend millions of taxpayers money influencing the same media in their favour.
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