I usually have lots of time for independent politicians. They tend to be more honest, more direct, and more free to speak and act than party affiliated candidates and in governments like the current Dail, they can be big players in the fortunes of their counties.
But not all of them. In covering the debates and candidates of the upcoming Donegal by-election, I’ve been reading up on two independents: Thomas Pringle, a fairly likable, former Sinn Fein man and Ann Sweeney, a hotel owner and founder of the hilariously acronymed New Island Party, which I will insist on calling NIP.
NIP and Sweeney are doing their thing almost exclusively in cyberspace, through websites and Youtube videos. I imagine this has more to do with a lack of funding then a serious effort to reach out to voters in a different way, but whatever.
Her videos have caused a bit of comment, the main one displaying some odd imagery of oil pumps and the like while discussing Donegal. Wouldn’t be the weirdest thing I’ve seen a candidate trot out. Overall, Sweeney seems like your bog standard idealist candidate, the kind that will get around 100 or so votes if she’s lucky and will never take part in the democratic process again.
It turns out that this would be a scenario I’d be happy with because of one of the shorter videos on her site.
I have a number of issues which, if someone has a contrary opinion, I find myself with absolutely no time for anything they have to say.
The smoking ban is one of those things.
She wants the smoking ban repealed. And, unlike those who simply just want to smoke in a pub, she wants it rescinded because “it has decimated the industry”*.
So basically, Ms Sweeney, for financial concerns, is happy for people to die. Her argument seems to be that smoking is allowed in other places (including, oh no, prisons!) so it should be ok to smoke in a hotel.
I take the opposite view to put it mildly. I hear that and my only thought is “We should get round to banning it in those places too!”.
But oh no, not Anne Sweeney. It needs to be “seriously reviewed”.
No it doesn’t Ms Sweeney. It needs to be expanded, lauded, as one of the few succesful and morally decent things the current government has pushed through during its time in charge. It’s something that will not only save lives, but improve them too.
Oh, but her hotel! God forbid it should close like all those other places that went bankrupt over the smoking ban. You know…those. I heard about…well, not in my area but…yeah.
She is willing for lung cancer, respiratory problems, millions in surgery costs, and the devastating effects of second hand smoke, not be tackled effectively, but in fact, to be surrendered to, as inevitable.
I mean, people should be free to smoke right? It’s their choice, right?
Nope. You have no personal rights to pump a narcotic into your system. Do tell what part of the constitution or the UN charters that comes under if you can find it. Nobody died for your right to smoke or blow it in my face.
But Anne Sweeney, for the sake of her business**, is perfectly willing to sacrifice people’s health for it. For money, for profit.
And that’s why I’ll cheer when she loses. One more small victory in the fight against nicotine.
*Yes, aside from being unable to pronounce the word “situation” properly (sit-you-a-shun, Ms Sweeney) she is one of those people who doesn’t know what “decimated” means.
**This women had a grocery shop that went bankrupt by the way. Not her fault, cross border shopping she insists. I’m beginning to wonder if Ms Sweeney is one of those people who can always find an external reason as to why they fail at business.
Edit: Ann Sweeney has pulled out of the Donegal by-election. She claims it’s because the by-election would be a “farce”.
I think she suddenly realised that finishing last would be sort of humiliating. Anyway, I get to celebrate early.