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Archive for February 7th, 2011

Ann Cronin, who is standing as a candidate for Co. Clare in this year's General Election.

This is the story behind my decision to stand in the General Election.

I’ve never been good at keeping my mouth shut, that inability to disconnect my vocal apparatus from my thoughts and feelings has gotten me into plenty of hot water. I’ve been taken up wrong, I’ve been misquoted, I need to keep a lid on it. I would make a terrible traditional politician, the idea of evading a straight answer is an anathema to me. The idea of pretending to like something I don’t or lying about my beliefs, my attitudes, my values fills me with discomfort. I try as Holden Caulfield tells me, not to be a phoney.

I attended a meeting on Saturday to discuss women and their needs in the upcoming election – what would women need, was it different to what men need? Who would meet these needs. As time and discussion wore on, we laughed, we discussed, no fist was banged, no voice was raised but the elephant in the room could not be ignored for long.

Why,  in County Clare were no women on the ballot sheet? There were 12 men but zero ladies.

As is my habit, I had to voice an opinion. An epiphany hit me,  why not run 12 women to balance the ballot paper?

But who?

Who will run? Suddenly fear entered the fray. How would it be done? Who had the time? Who had the will? I’ve never been able to back down, I threw myself out there, I’ll stand if none will, I will be A WOMAN on the ballot. This may seem a ludicrous plan, I have no party, no affiliations, no dynasty, no history… and most importantly no money, all of the things that keep other voices out of political decision-making. But I have overcome far greater obstacles in life than these paltry matters. I must run – I may not win – but I will not be paralysed by the fear of that. I will change nothing by standing on the sidelines, I can only show that the first step is the hardest.

I will run, and if two, five, 10 or 20 other women want to join me in a gesture of solidarity to balance the ballot paper in County Clare then I want to hear from you. We will be the first, it will be fun, and by the time the local elections roll around, we will run candidates in every section of the county. By the time the next election happens, we will be stronger, more confident and prepared.

I’m going to balance the ballot papers, I’m going to normalise women’s’ faces on the polling card, I’m starting this as nobody else will do it for me. It’s my island (big grin). This is a positive step, it is apolitical, it’s about winning hearts and minds, it’s about getting it into young girls minds that women are active in politics; that they are willing to step up. There are no barriers but those which we accept, no fate but what we make. I’m changing mine.

Contact me at anncroninge11@gmail.com

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Facebook was a drag and I’ve de-Zuckered my life. It caused merely a wince, much like eyebrow plucking. Why? People that I hadn’t clicked with in real life I was ‘clicking with’ online and that just didn’t seem very clever. Aren’t some things in life destined to be fleeting, like people who show up in your life and then drift out of it entirely naturally? Delicious memories of chance encounters lose their appeal once confronted with photos of ‘him’ on honeymoon. Maybe everyone isn’t supposed to stay connected and watching each others cyber moves. It can’t be the natural order. Someone needs to tell everyone that you simply can’t be friends with every person you’ve ever met. Friendships require investment, moral support, face to face interaction and occasionally presents. Any other kind is a bit of a waste.

I’ll admit to having been mildly concerned about the repercussions of deleting my profile. I did a quick gander at the 260 plus friends I had amassed. There was Roxana from LA who I’d met during the summer on holiday, a not very funny person in daylight and she didn’t get my jokes (a rarity I’ll have you know). Still n’all, we connected on Facebook. If I really wanted to contact Roxana, I could email her though I haven’t once been tempted to since returning home. I guess Roxana isn’t really my friend and I’m not jetting out to the west coast of the US any time soon.

Please copy and paste this status message onto your profile if you’ve ever gazed fondly at a picture of a baby chick. Today is World Baby Chick Appreciation Day. Tell all your friends. Despite these thousands of status updates, baby chicks everywhere will remain completely oblivious to all of this nonsense.

Many of us spend ample time selecting our intellectual material and pride ourselves on the books we read, films we watch and so on. Yet we spend hours involved in dumbed down interaction and reading rubbish on Facebook. Remarks which have just popped into peoples heads are acceptable as status updates, such as running out of teabags and ‘no idea what I’m going to wear tonight.’ We usually try to avoid being this boring and stupid in company so why do we do it on Facebook?

Is it acceptable to be nosy these days? Once a negative character attribute, now we’re all nosy and it’s okay. Hours spent gawping at photo albums. People who I’d been to primary school with, people I’d met at parties, people who I knew I would never meet again… I couldn’t figure out why exactly was I sharing/enforcing my thoughts, photographs and personal life and vice versa.

I wanted to engage with polite and witty types, but it was all quiet from their end, I guessed they were out doing interesting things with interesting people. Instead I made company with bad spellings. Not to mention the person who found out about the cement truck at Dail Eireann a week later and began clogging up news feeds with ‘OMG, Just saw this, did anyone else know this had happened? Guy drives cement truck into Dail Eireann? So f***ing hilarious!’.

Facebook is like standing in a large echoing warehouse filled with people who are shouting ‘Look at me! Look what I’m doing! I’m funny, really! I can’t remember last night! Look at me wearing novelty sunglasses on holidays!’ It reminds me of my early school days when teacher’s skirt got continually tugged every time a little mite had some news to recount.

Some things I’ve learned – real friends aren’t medals on your Facebook profile page. Most of us are far less interesting than we are willing to accept. And while Facebook can be exciting and riveting, usually it’s not.

Frances Macken is a graduate of the National Film School and has worked in the advertising industry and print media for the past number of years. She is a big fan of film production, copywriting and fiction writing. An all-round creative junkie, she is penning her first book and also consulting on an exciting online publishing venture. Currently re-reading The Great Gatsby, she is also engaged to Doug. @francesmacken

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