The public outpouring of self-pity by politicians during the holidays would make you think that it’s a hard life being a TD and even harder being a Minister.
Yes the hours are long and the work load heavy. But with a start off salary of €92,000 per year for TDs, a Ministerial salary of €169,000 per year and a lavish system of expenses even after the reductions announced in December’s budget, clearly the financial rewards are good.
In fact they are amongst the best in the entire world.
Nobody is forced to be a politician. We do it out of choice. Many of us do it out of conviction. And we enjoy our work.
Yet, following the debate through December and January it seemed as though our politicians, particularly those in Government, were the victims of a massive smear campaign by a motley crew of anti-political journalists and abusive social media trolls.
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte went so far as to say that all of this negativity was undermining politics itself. What rubbish!
There is no doubt that public trust in politicians and the political process is at a low ebb. But to suggest that this is down to media criticism or negative tweeting is not just nonsense, it is a cynical attempt by some politicians to shift the blame for the problem on to others.
So what is the cause of the growing public mistrust of our political class and the political process?
Back in 2010 public anger was focused on Fianna Fáil. People had come to realise that the governments of Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen were driven by political corruption and economic incompetence.
In the 2011 general election they voted overwhelming for change.
While nobody expected the problems created by politicians such as Michael Martin, Willie O’Dea, Billy Kelleher and Michael McGrath to be fixed overnight, they did believe that the cause of the problem –Fianna Fáil- had been surgically removed from the body politic and a long slow recovery could now begin.
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