Credit: FG via Flickr under Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Why lower our taxes or build us homes when FG can win young people with carbon neutral recruitment instead?

You might have missed it (you definitely missed it), but Fine Gael began the thousand mile journey of appealing to young people this week with the selective leaking of a report into the party’s support—or lack thereof—amongst the yoofs of Ireland. I say selective because the report—written by Fine Gael’s in-house Young Person™ Simon Harris, and apparently focusing in large part on the supposed deficiencies of the party’s youth wing, Young Fine Gael (YFG)—hasn’t actually been published yet. Instead, like the Budget, the juiciest and most predictable bits about inclusion, diversity, and the importance of being a leftie have been fed to outlets and reporters with a history of interest in YFG’s machinations to be distilled for the rest of us.

Nevertheless, some details are available to us oiks, and they make for grim reading. At the off, Harris quotes figures from a survey of his that purports to show that 95% of YFG’s membership does not describe itself as far-left or far-right. I wasn’t asked to participate unfortunately (random selection and all that…), but this question alone should give us all a strong and cloying flavour of what the survey was about.

While those figures really suggest that 90%+ of respondents are liars, of greater interest is the report’s conclusion that YFG is therefore a firmly centrist organization, and Mount Street’s sighs of relief are audible. What was supposed to be a mirror to be held up to Fine Gael to highlight its failings and make it do better is now a milquetoast shell full of gelatinous beige gloop with an arse splintered from fence-sitting and nest feathering: a proud (but not too proud) scion of Leo’s “New European Centre,” thanks be to Ursula.

While YFG might therefore *just* scrape over the threshold of moral acceptability, its political contribution to Fine Gael also comes under scrutiny and is found wanting, with references made to past controversies—something to actually be proud of, if I do say so myself—and its having just a few hundred members. The report sets an ambitious target of recruiting 2000 members in 2023, and decides that the best way to do this is by ensuring that recruitment campaigns are carbon neutral.

Yes, you did read that correctly. Fine Gael’s report concludes that the best way to more than double its youth membership in 12 months is through net-zero carbon recruitment campaigns, which attain that standard by not using posters on campuses, advertising solely online, etc. Funnily enough, net-zero election campaigns banning posters and leaflets are not in the offing, but this is a trifling detail.

Voters might be too discerning, but the young will fall for…er…respond to the initiative.

Jokes aside, though, what the report really serves to highlight is the terminal inability of Fine Gael to identify a problem and deal with it.

Whether in matters of internal or national governance, the party has taken to adopting a fingers-in-its-ears attitude towards whatever actual problem it faces in favour of fixating on the cuddliest, most Irish-Times-canteen-friendly aspect of the problem, all without realizing or admitting that the problem gets worse in doing so.

In this instance, Fine Gael has decided that its crumbling support and membership bases are not due to the many appalling policies it has enacted to prop Fianna Fáil up in Government or the day-to-day crises that so many of us experience as a result, but due to its members using pens and paper for the last 90 years.

My generation is not voting for (let alone joining) FG not because we will need specific state pensions to pay our exorbitant rents until the day we die, or because of the violence plaguing the length and breath of our country, or the astronomical taxes that we have to pay for the privilege. It’s not because of the lack of facilities beyond pubs, or because the streets are paved with dog dirt and used needles.

It’s because party membership isn’t paperless yet, and we trust them to run the country.



Killian Foley-Walsh


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