Minister Jim Daly’s decision to retire from politics, at the age of just 46, is surprising and unsurprising. The Cork South West Fine Gael TD said it was “a deeply personal decision”. He has five children aged between six and 16 and he said he felt that he had put politics first for many years and it was now time to put his family first.
That reprioritisation is entirely natural and admirable but it, once again, raises a question of great importance to our politics and public life — how can ordinary, everyday people commit to a system so attritional, so all-consuming as national politics? How can that essential process be made more people-friendly so those with the necessary skills, values and energy can contribute? Mr Daly’s decision shows this is not a gender issue and that impossible is impossible whether you are a man or a woman.
That situation has been made more difficult by on-line vitriol directed at all politicians, and sometimes their families, by the half-informed and incoherent. Something has to give, as it has in Jim Daly’s all too short political career.