How money influences politics: from voter turnout to TD landlords

Clara Kelly

Money has impacted Irish politics from as far back as you can remember, lower income areas historically have lower voter turnout, meanwhile 1 in 5 local TD’s are landlords.

According to a report from RTE, higher voter turnout is associated with areas of older populations, married people, residential stability, rural and affluent areas, as well as areas with higher levels of education. 

Meanwhile, lower voter turnout occurs in younger areas with high separated populations, social deprivation and lower education standards.

Meaning people from low income areas are already at a disadvantage in the voting system, for a multitude of reasons. 

The largest issue with this system is that because of it, political parties like Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, who have popularity in affluent areas among wealthier people, continue to get more votes due to this disadvantage.

Once elected these parties keep wealthy areas wealthy, meanwhile, low income areas continue to suffer. 

Meaning a sort of political loop is created which only benefits the areas of Irish society which have been properly empowered to vote, are able to do so. 

The solution of course, is increased voter turnout in low income areas, but it proves a difficult task when people are more focused on the larger problems faced living in these areas. 

Sandra Fay a Tallaght TD candidate for the Solidarity party who has been outspoken on this particular problem said, “As a person who has grown up in Jobstown my whole life, I know first hand what it is like to be treated as a second class citizen by the establishment.

“The rate of suicide, homelessness, mental health issues, cuts to critical health services, the climate crisis. Everything that is wrong in this country is felt 100x more by normal working class people. It is not felt by those in charge.”

The issue is when dealing with all of these problems it can be hard for people to take the time to go vote, much harder than their comfortable counterparts in other parts of the country.

A minimum of 30 of the Dáil’s 158 TDs(one in five) are receiving private rental income from properties they own, including a quarter of the current Cabinet.

Meaning voters must ask the question of who’s best interest local politicians will be acting in, the interest of the voters, or the interest of their very own financial gain.

According to the 2017 Dáil declarations of interest report, published every year by the Oireachtas and includes a full breakdown of TDs’ assets, politicians across almost all parties have properties they are renting to the public.

Meaning in an economy where so many politicians are profiting from the current, flawed system, why would they feel empowered to change it at their own expense?

Money always has and most likely sadly always will impact Irish politics. It’s in most politicians best interest that their salaries stay high, even if it means people sleeping rough on Irish streets in the process.

By Clara Kelly

Image: WikiMedia