Fine Gael think-in: Politicians forced to go to ‘every funeral or cock fight’, says Brendan Griffin

Kerry TD Brendan Griffin has warned that local politics is in a race to the bottom, warning that bright people are shunning political careers as they will have to go to “every funeral or cock fight”.

TDs should not spend time dealing with “Mary’s medical card” or social welfare payments and instead should focus on national issues, said the Fine Gael TD.

“If we want to attract the bright people, the best people in to politics, they’re not going to go into politics as it is at present. Many won’t as they have to go to every funeral, because they have to go to the opening of every envelope, or they have to be at every cock fight,” he told the Irish Examiner.

Mr Griffin thinks that multi-seat constituencies should be eliminated and replaced by single seat, smaller electoral areas.

Politicians should then not focus on spending as much time on local issues, he explained.

“Not issues relating to personal stuff, such as medical cards and social protection.

“At the moment, you can almost have a race to the bottom for some constituencies.

“There’s a certain number of people who will reward the guy who fills the pothole, who does the social welfare. That’s fine but what you’re effectively losing out on is someone who does the bigger stuff, who ensures you’ve the proper planning for jobs, the proper infrastructure. It’s [politics] too local.”

His comments will be viewed as criticism of constituency competitors the Healy-Raes, who have defended going to large numbers of funerals. Mr Griffin denied being specific in his remarks.

Elsewhere, the Oireachtas committee chairman has said he supports reforming the abortion laws but that the process will be difficult for his party.

As his party finishes up its pre-Dáil think-in today, he said Fine Gael cannot bury its head in the sand on repealing the Eighth Amendment, the part of the Constitution that protects the life of of the unborn.

“My feeling is that the Eighth Amendment needs to be repealed but you need to know what replaces that, what fills that vacuum.

“It will be difficult but we are going to have confront it, we’re going to have to deal with it.”

READ MORE: Brendan Griffin is looking for a clearer vision of the future


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