On March 15th I went down to Lucan-Palmerstown to observe the South Dublin participatory budgeting project.
I spoke to Independent Mayor Guss O’Connell, who has been spearheading this project for years, and who finally succeeded in getting 300k EUR set aside to be put into projects that local people initiate and decide upon under the tagline “300k: Have your Say”.
On March 11th, I attended the 4th National Conference of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). According to their brochure, SSDP is “the largest international network of students on the globe dedicated to drug policy reform”. The brochure goes on to say that rather than being a criminal justice issue, drugs use should be viewed as a public health issue, and that possibly all drugs should be “taken away from the criminal underworld through progressive legislation and regulation”, pending the collection of evidence that such a development would indeed be helpful.
One of the most popular outcomes of Fuller Democracy was improving mental health services in Ireland. I estimate the running costs of a good, free-to-user mental health service in Ireland to be approximately 122 million Euro per annum (based on per capita equivalency to German spending). Compared to most items in the national budget, this is not that much money, especially as we are already spending ca. 30 million Euro, meaning that the gap is less than 100 million Euro. Not only that, a good mental health service will at least partially pay for itself, because it reduces incapacity to work, (e.g. due to depression); helps deal with, or better yet, prevent, addiction (not just to hard drugs, but e.g. cigarettes), which also saves money in the long run; gives people the tools they need to help them attain higher levels of education than they otherwise would have; reduces violence, etc., etc.
Filmmaker Jonathan Victory followed my election campaign in February of last year to document how my message of revitalising democracy was received on the doors and in the polls. Jonathan acted as his own crew, filming, editing and even recording music for this film. He is planning to develop it into a feature-length documentary based on my book about democracy.
While I have been silent for a long while, I have been busy. One of the most popular decisions in the Fingal People’s Programme was providing better working opportunities for the disabled. Right around the same time we closed the People’s Programme, I received an invitation to “Making It Work: Employment and People with Disabilities” run by the Disability Federation of Ireland. I decided that I would start by attending this conference in order to give myself a better idea of the present state of affairs.
It’s now a month since we went to the polls and I’d like to thank all 772 people who gave me their first preferences on February 26th, as well as the many more who gave me a 2nd or 3rd preference. Your trust and support means a lot to me, and I look forward to continuing to work with you in the interim before the next election.
I would also like to thank my campaign team, especially my manager Martin Byrne, tireless canvassers Ife & Tony Dimbo, and everyone else who came out to help canvass or gave a small donation.
I would also like to thank everyone who took the time to write or phone me with your questions during the campaign. When I first started in politics, many ‘experts’ told me that people just aren’t interested in policy questions. I was very happy to see that proven wrong and to receive so much interest and engagement from so many people. I know that digital democracy definitely has a future in our constituency.
I plan to run again in the European/local elections in 2019 and in the next national elections, should they occur before then. I will, therefore, continue updating this blog and my webpage, and am available to take queries or be of assistance at any time. I will also continue to work towards digital participation locally and abroad.
I attended the Right2Change meeting at Northern Cross in September of last year and I believe that Right2Change is a progressive platform – in fact I personally agree with about 90% of what it advocates.