A new political party has been founded by an Australian man living in Cooraclare.
David Barrett has started to follow politics extensively since moving to West Clare with his wife Jane last year and this week sees the establishment of The Moderate Party. He explained his financial concerns for Ireland led to the creation of the political party.
“When I left Australia I didn’t think I would be getting into politics but the dire situation of what politics is here at the moment is very worrying, I’m very worried they are driving us over a muddy cliff which is going to be worse than 2008 and 2009, the reason I think that is based on the national debt being over €210 billion. We’re talking about the National Childrens Hospital being a scandalous waste of money and it is, but that’s possibly going to reach €2 billion, our debt is so huge that annually we are losing €6 billion a year in interest alone, that’s three national children hospitals every year and that wealth is being sucked out of the country and here in rural Ireland, it is being sucked out the quickest because the Government is hanging on to it and everything is all about Dublin, the rest is being totally disregarded, I see that as a major imbalance problem, they’ve abandoned small to medium enterprises since 2008 and it’s no surprise that 1 and a half million Irish born citizens are living overseas as economic refugees, it’s so out of balance that things have to be corrected”.
Speaking to The Clare Echo this week, Barrett outlined, “My approach is fiscal responsibility but I don’t think fiscal responsibility actually means austerity, there is enough there that we can actually start chipping away at the national debt, move forward in a positive way to balance out the country, I’ve come up with lots of innovative plans and ways on how to tweak the tax system so we’re taking a bit more off the tax system and a bit less into the welfare side of things and ease the burden on middle Ireland because I think they are being really squeezed. All the incentives are there for people to be on welfare and it’s a bad situation where people can be better off if they are on welfare than if they were working, that’s a dangerous situation and it breeds hostility. We need a balanced approach”.
On why he opted for The Moderate name, the fifty two year old stated, “It fits the ideology of where we’re at, the idea is to not be the extremes, I suspect most Irish people don’t think of Ireland as being particularly socialist but as an outsiders view, it does have a lot of socialist elements to it. At the other end you’ve got the housing crisis where the Government seems to have blinkers on and not really care about what’s happening to the general population. Things need to be balanced top and bottom across the board”.
As it stands, he is the only member of the party and is also solely responsible for drafting its constitution. He plans to hold a series of talks in communities across the county to build up awareness but admitted May’s local and European elections have come too soon although he will not turn away anyone who wishes to represent The Moderates this May. “It’s going to have to be partly my own small bits of money as I need it. I’m hoping to get membership and donations as well, it is dependent on the people coming on board,” David said of how the party will be funded.
Individuals that want to contest elections for the party must “fit a profile”, which he explained was to be “Honest, trustworthy, practical, people have to be practical if they are doing this. This is where I feel the extremes are not practical, they push out a crazy socialist, capitalist or fascist view, they focus on helping one segment of society where I think the Moderate view would be provide welfare when it is needed but not too much welfare which incentives people into welfare and ultimately poverty. Free enterprise and small to medium businesses we would support and promote them but at the same time there needs to be caps on ultra wealth which is becoming a problem. These boom and busts circles that Ireland is going through, every time this happens the wealth flows into the wealthy from the poor so there is a growing gulf between wealthy and poor, the ones that are wealthy can pick up property and make more profits at the expense of everyone else. I don’t mind strong opinions as long as they are fair opinions, I’m passionate about what I’m doing, just because it’s called Moderate doesn’t mean boring”.
When it comes to referendums, there will be no directive given to members on how they should vote as the consultant engineer is of the view that “referendums tend to be a conscience vote”. Equally, members are free to belong to any religion. The Moderates’ constitution refers to “divisions of the past” which David has seen resurface due to Brexit. “DUP and Sinn Féin have not been in Stormont for so long that people are thinking what is the point of politics in the North at the moment, they are such polar opposites and this is where I would like to see the Moderate Party feel a gap as well, I don’t just want it to be a Co Clare party, I just don’t want it to be an Ireland party, I want to see it everywhere around the world whether it’s between the Republicans and Democrats in America, Tories and Labour in the UK or the DUP and Sinn Féin the North. There is such friction between Sinn Féin and the DUP, they are poles apart, one wants something totally opposite to the other but there are other ways, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, there is room for the Moderate Party”.
As part of the recruitment process, David must sign up 300 members or a single TD before registering the party with SIPO, he confirmed that all paperwork is ready to go. His timing clashes with Peadar Tóibin’s new Aontú party but according to Barrett there is a still a strong Sinn Féin element to Tóibin’s party. “He’s coming from a Sinn Féin perspective and he’s still got most of the Sinn Féin values except he’s thrown in abortion as being a major one as well. That to me is not going to make or break a country, that issue which way it goes but fiscally we’re heading for a cliff and if something is not done about it we’re just going downhill fast”.
In twelve months, he hopes to have candidates lined up in constituencies across the country and has confirmed he will contest the General Election in Clare, the result of which will be crucial to determining how long the party will survive. “I’m not a rich person, I’ve got some other business ideas to do and I’m hoping to do them while I’m doing this and get some money coming in for myself. If I can’t and I have to focus 100 percent on this then I’m hopeful there will be enough funding to take a wage from the party to keep promoting it, if there is enough funding there I can keep at it, it would be my job so it’s all dependent on how well I’m received and I don’t know that yet”.