The diary of a first-time voter: My biggest political concern is climate change

In Trinity, we’re holding our Student Union elections. I mention this for context — whenever I bring up “the elections” in uni, this is what people talk about. It’s an interesting microcosm.

The diary of a first-time voter: My biggest political concern is climate change

Yesterday one of the presidential candidates announced that he would donate €5,000 of the €16,000 salary to TAP (Trinity Access Programme) if elected. Which, as my friend Conall pointed out, isn’t even enough to get a student through the Irish university system at the moment. I would consider this a genuine gesture, had he not announced the donation halfway through the campaign, because he thought “it would be most effective” at this stage of the elections.

I half expected the candidates to enter into a reverse bidding war. Note the “he” pronoun — it’s all white males in the pres race this year. If these are the kind of absurd tokenistic gestures that happen on a university level, I fear for the national political dynamics.

On a contrasting note, I am a little disappointed that no politicians have tried to bribe me to write about them. There hasn’t even been anyone to the door.

However, there is a flip side. I was sitting in the publications office when our brilliant current SU president, Lynn Ruane, walked in with her puppy Biscuit. She’s running for the Seanad this year, and had formally handed in her nomination form the day before. Unfortunately, media tends to skip over about 15 years of her life and experience, and portray her leadership as a rags-to-riches, Tallaght-to-Trinity story. I watched Biscuit as he padded his way around the room, eating crumbs from people’s lunch — my concern for politics will never eclipse my interest in dogs.

I’ve been thinking about the Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit too. I tried to read up on them, but haven’t discovered much aside from anti-austerity and cost-lowering policies. I know that they’re a new party, but what else do they want to develop? I can’t predict how they would operate in Government, but feel obliged to support them as a socialist.

My friend Colm was discussing this with me while painting the red onto our divestment banner.

Our banner is for TCD Fossil Free. Trinity College Dublin has about €6.1m invested in oil-related stocks, €850,000 invested in arms, and another small fortune in tobacco. We’re campaigning for the college to disinvest from those holdings and introduce an ethical investment policy.

Climate change is probably my biggest political concern. I want the claims that Enda Kenny made on our behalf in Paris COP21 to be true — that Ireland is “determined to play its part” in fighting for climate justice.

It didn’t help that as soon as he got off the stage, he was mouthing off to reporters about how the emission-reducing goals were “unrealistic” and “unreachable”.

We’re facing into a future of dramatic and violent changes. I don’t know who I want to be sitting in government when they happen.

Jessie's previous diaries

February 6: Politics is the study of power

February 10: Understanding, and confusion, is growing

Jessie's next diary

February 17: The diary of a first-time voter: What recovery are they talking about?

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