Living in a State of Blissful Ignorance?

31/10/2011 00:05 GMT | Updated 30/12/2011 10:12 GMT

Perhaps it's a dated debate, but the recent election and referenda here in Ireland have invoked a sense of dismay and embarrassment in me on why Irish people are not voting. An appalling turnout of voters has been recorded, in the region of 50%.

Is it really a democracy when only half of those eligible to vote exercise that right? Is not voting a vote in itself? There seemed to be an overarching sense of unhappiness with the level of candidates for the office of the president of Ireland, with people of the opinion that nobody is able to hold a candle to the magnificent Mary McAleese. She really spoiled us with how well she represented the country; perhaps there was nobody able to compete with her reputation and her recent dealing with our celebrity state visitors.

But does that mean that we should just throw in the democratic towel? I don't mean to sound like a ranting backward-looking feminist, but people died so that the Irish people could exercise their right to vote, not to mention those who campaigned tirelessly in order to allow women to have suffrage.

So why does it seem that almost half of those eligible to vote in Ireland find it too much of a hassle to travel five minutes to their local polling station to exercise this important democratic right? I personally feel like since I've "come of age", voting empowers me and, well, makes me feel like a proper grown up. Is the right to vote more of a responsibility which people view as a burden instead of as something which they are lucky to have?

Should there be an option to shirk the right to vote completely? When we consider the situation in Libya which has recently come to a head with the death of Gaddafi, we see the lengths that people will go to and the courage that normal people can call upon, in order to reclaim the precious right to vote. I am slightly embarrassed to be a part of a society which feels that asking them to leave their houses for about ten minutes to cast their vote is well, frankly asking a bit much.

What angers me most about this situation is the fact that as an Irish citizen, I am well aware of how we all love a good old moan. There's really nothing to beat it. Whether it's regarding the terrible weather, how Mary Davis photo-shopped her posters or how much money the government is wasting, we do love to discuss and well, to criticise. So one would think that naturally, a time when the Irish could get their point across, would be embraced warmly by the nation.

But no, the attitude seems to be "sure let somebody else decide, I can't be bothered." Or, "I don't really care either way." Or "ah, sure everyone's going to vote for so-and-so or such-and-such anyway, so what's the point in my voting?"

I would like to take this opportunity to virtually shake all of these eejits who hold such a view. Don't you understand what democracy is? Should these people even be entitled to live as part of a democratic society if that is there attitude? Off to Myanmar with you, and see how long you last.

I think they'd be back to their cosy little democracy before you could so much as begin to utter "internet censorship."