The TD, who spoke less than five times through the whole duration of the last Irish parliament (or Dail), arrived at my parents' street this week to check out the locals' need for a new footpath.
Someone nearly died on a dangerous stretch of roadway, where I and my friends used to walk to school. So the politician turned up and offered to make a few calls.
Yes, my country is bankrupt, bailed out by the IMF because our bankers and politicians were so greedy or so stupid, and one of the guys who represents us in the national parliament wants to fix a bit of a road.
And that will 'buy' him votes? That's what it's all about?
Another local politician, who has no mandate from the people of my city, was co-opted into a position of privilege last year. And he, and others like him, use tax-payers' money to send out letters because there is an election on this month. Because they can.
The elderly parents, who gave 85 years between them to the service of the State, have had their pensions torn to shreds by the same Government and State. Because we need to pay off the bankers and the foreign bond-holders who have nothing to do with elderly West of Ireland people who bought their house 30-odd years ago.
The work-mate, younger than me, newly married and starting off in life, is down 800 euros a month and wondering if he can pay the mortgage any more. His other half worries that she may not hold onto her job.
The former work-mate, waiting anxiously every night for some good news over the phone, has found out within the last week that the health service she's laid her hopes on doesn't consider her, or anyone in her predicament, a priority. She has understandable rage, as everyone in the country waiting for a transplant has this week.
The old school-mate, who astounded Scottish medics when he battled bravely against a killer disease, was left waiting seven and a half hours in casualty after crashing his bicycle on one of our city's notorious pot-holed roads.
We have a health service that doesn't work and it cost me 275 euros to get an X-ray taken last week. And I'm one of the lucky ones who has private health cover.
Up in Mayo, farmers and fishermen in a small rural area have been terrorised by a multinational oil company who bought our off-shore gas rights for the lowest possible price. Only Cameroon sells off its assets for less than the Banana Republic.
And it was one of our wonderful West of Ireland politicians who sold off those rights when he was a Minister in the 1990s. He probably was distracted, he had a few footpaths to fix at the time.
I nearly cried last night as I watched 'The Pipe', a wonderful documentary about the savage treatment of the poor people of Rossport, Co. Mayo. To see the people of this rural community being arrested and humiliated for defending their land or their lobster pots made my blood boil.
The image of the little trawler up against the massive ship, escorted into the bay by our wonderful police service, will linger for a long time.
Arah, sure, it's good to be home.
I spent the last quarter of last year volunteering in Nicaragua and, the way things are going, foreign volunteers will be coming to help out my basket case of a country in a few years.
We had a chance and our greedy leaders blew it, along with their banker and developer buddies.
My gap year is over and it was wonderful, and now I'm back to work as a journalist through the biggest crisis this State has ever known.
The land which has always spat out its young people, under the iron fist of a foreign empire, has been betrayed by its own.
Interesting, if sad, times.
For me, 2010 was a wonderful year of growth and adventure, and I managed to get out of my 'comfort zone'. I needed it, and now I know that my future path is not set in stone or too predictable. Any of us can change.
But now everyone in Ireland needs to get out of their comfort zones.
We need to stop voting for the gobshites who think it's enough to make a few calls to fix our roads.
We need to stop voting for people with no vision, other than getting re-elected and looking after their friends.
We need to stop saying thanks to over-paid consultants after they blatantly rip us off with ridiculous prices when they present us with bills.
We need to show solidarity with people who have been terrorised in their Mayo homes.
We need to remember the value of community and friendship, after the madness of the Septic Tiger (thanks Hugo!) years. I learned in Nicaragua that material things or riches don't make us happy.
We need to tell the rotten, corrupt politicians what we really think of them instead of saying 'Arrah, it's grand, and wasn't his father a lovely man?'
We need to challenge bankers and bondholders who have no right to our pensions and taxes.
My gap year is over and I'm back home in interesting times.
Last night I was ashamed to be Irish when I watched what Shell and the State have done to the poor people of North Mayo.
We're a nation of cowards ... the whole West of Ireland should have been protesting when the Rossport 5 were sent to prison. In Ireland, the real criminals somehow don't end up in jail.
My gap year is over. Thanks for reading my blog.
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