O’Brien invokes 1916 spirit in urging voters to register before deadline

Bridget and James Harte - Grandparents of Joe O'Brien

With the deadline approaching for registering on the Register of Electors Green Party General Election candidate Joe O’Brien has urged the electorate to come out in force for the general election in 2016, as a mark of respect to those who sacrificed so much in 1916 and in the following war of independence and civil war. Mr. O’Brien’s Grandfather (James Harte pictured about with his wife Bridget) served as a Commandant in the Irish Volunteers in Cork in 1916. Mr. O’Brien stated that:

2016 is a very big year for Ireland. There will be a very important General Election in 2016. For that reason but also as a mark of respect to all the sacrifices made by people in 1916 and in all the conflicts of the time that were in one way or another tied to cause of sovereignty, I hope people come out in force to cast their ballot. I have certainly been inspired by the fact that my Grandfather was prepared to take serious risks and make sacrifices to do what he felt his country needed.

 I think next year will be a year of looking back but we will not do justice to 1916 unless we also try to look forward. The rising was about trying to secure a long time future for Ireland and unfortunately I don’t think there is enough of that approach in Irish politics at the moment.

 As an economy Ireland’s long term vulnerabilities have not only been not tackled but in some case exacerbated in the last 4 years – our reliance on multi-nationals, our dependence on exports and our energy system’s huge and unnecessary orientation towards fossil fuels are contributing to a very uncertain future for Ireland that government does not want to talk about.

 Crucially for me as someone who has worked in the area of social justice all my life I am very uncomfortable with the fact that the State has failed the spirit of the proclamation which committed to cherishing all the children of the State equally. We are a very unequal society and my decision to get involved in politics was driven my desire to tackle that inequality in a positive and constructive way but also with passion and commitment.

 Ireland’s approach to tackling climate change must also be front and centre of debates on Ireland’s future in 2016. I would like to invoke a sense of patriotism not just towards Ireland of the past but Ireland of the present and the challenges that we face as a local communities, a nation and the global community in the face of a challenge that government is running away from.

 I think Election 2016 is also an opportunity for people to cast their first ever ballot. I am not just talking about people who are turning 18 but also those who have been disenfranchised by the political system and have decided not to vote. This is not an issue we adequately engage with in Ireland – the fact that a significant minority of people don’t see the point in using their vote. What a great year to cast your first ever vote, but only if you are registered!

 The deadline for registration is fast approaching with little more than a week away to November 25th. The electoral register and voter registration forms can be found at www.checktheregister.ie and completed forms should be returned to Franchise Section, Fingal County Council, Main St., Swords.

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