On Friday May 24th our country votes in two elections and a Referendum. Every election is an opportunity to reflect on the strengths and challenges facing ourselves as a people. We should respect every elected politician and every person who seeks election. They are a vital part of democracy.
The European election is overshadowed by Brexit. Brexit is a warning to all of Europe not to take democracy for granted. Hopefully the election will strengthen confidence in Ireland concerning the value of our being part of the E.U. Every situation involves positive and negative aspects. Have we the balance right between being part of a Union and at the same time being a true Republic, ruling ourselves?
Regarding the Referendum, whatever the outcome, my conviction is that marriage is essential and fundamental for the common good of society worldwide. It is imperative that all in Irish society continue to work together to promote marriage and family. The value of marriage as lifelong is what is central to this Referendum.
The local elections deserve serious reflection. Local politicians, councillors, give us genuine local democracy. It is important to realise that not everything is the responsibility of government, whether local or national. So much happens at community level, at the level of ‘good neighbours’. In our society there is the voluntary sector and also the myriad individual incidents and situations of ongoing informal care and support in every community. As we think of local needs and issues we realise the importance of the quality of community life in all the different contexts in our County.
Both locally and nationally there is one outstanding issue facing us all. It is much discussed in recent years. Would all councillors in the County unite together to tackle this single issue during the upcoming term of office? The task is to find a way to make basic housing available for all. It is an enormous and vital challenge.
The challenge is to provide homes for all couples starting out in life, – couples for whom it is time to set up home together, to marry, to start a family! Maybe a couple already have children. What hope of ever acquiring a home of their own have a couple who are struggling with unemployment or who are on the minimum wage?
It is a human right and it is key to human happiness to settle with a life partner and if possible to have a family. Acquiring your own home is vital for this. In past decades the ‘Council House’ fulfilled the dream of many couples. As well as the needs of all young couples this applies to all situations where adults find themselves homeless. Could all councillors unite together on this one single issue?
This election campaign takes place in the season of Easter, the season of Christ Risen from the dead and ever present in our world. May the values of the Risen Christ, the values of love and service, of compassion and forgiveness, be the values underpinning how we all share our lives locally and nationally. God bless all our politicians both national and local. God bless our country.
Bishop Ray Browne
Diocese of Kerry