Are the Irish really not that bothered about politics?

It's not that long ago when the people of Ireland were fighting for the right to run their own country, to have a say, to have a democracy. Nowadays, some people aren't even bothered to vote.

For many, it's a case of not even knowing that there is an election or referendum being held, matched with a lack of motivation to inform themselves of political agendas.

We're not the worst in the world for political apathy and it isn't the case that everyone in Ireland has no interest. However, it should be a note for discussion; why, in general, aren't the Irish interested in politics?

A random pick of five Irish news websites highlights the issue. The websites for the Irish Times, the Irish Independent,, and the Irish Examiner have a section titled Most Read. It includes the five stories most clicked into by their online readers. On 13 March, out of 25 stories, an article detailing the protests at NUI Galway was the nearest thing to a political story mentioned in this section.

The most read story over the five websites was about the Malaysian airplane investigation. Articles about major flaws in the penalty point system or dodgy payments to minister-appointed chairmen, just don't seem to excite the public.

Embarrassment is a feeling often experienced by the Irish electorate. Stories of corruption make it to our shores from other countries like Italy and America. One of the most notable political stories that made it into the New York Times, was when the former Taoiseach spoke on the radio with a husky tone of voice, interpreted as the consequences of a hangover, or the lasting effects of drunkeness.

Maybe it's that embarrassment that leads us to want outside help. Jason O'Mahony is a former candidate for the Progressive Democrats, who nowadays uses his website to poke fun at all things politics.

The satirical novel writer explained why there was no real display of anger when the Troika landed. “Many voters seem to believe that who they vote for has little to do with what sort of country they want. We're comfortable with the idea that someone else is in charge. It's very colonial.”

It's common to find that many Irish people take a vested interest in the political happenings of other countries. O'Mahony recalled a time when he was waiting at a bus stop and two pensioners were discussing Barack Obama's chances of winning Ohio. He puts the lack of interest in domestic politics down to a lack of diversity between parties.

“The problem is that our politics is dominated by two parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, who are pretty much sharing the same broad moderate conservative values,” he explained.

Focusing on the aspect of young people and politics, Jason noted that Ireland isn't alone in their struggle to get the youth involved. He used Dylan Haskins as a positive example. Haskins ran as an Independent candidate in the 2011 election and he introduced a level of enthusiasm, youth and entrepreneurship that hadn't really been seen before.

He wasn't elected in the end, but his efforts highlighted the need for more young people to get involved in the Irish political system.

Unfortunately, the Irish electorate, young and old, are slow to inform themselves and are quick to blame a lack of information provided. Even with increased adverts explaining the issues of upcoming referendums and several pamphlets dropped through the letterbox, we say we don't know what's happening. As Jason O'Mahony explained, “It's a curious phenomenon where ignorance is regarded as a right, as is the right to have one's own 'facts'”.

In 2012, the National Youth Council of Ireland ran a campaign pushing for a reduction in the age for voting to 16. O'Mahony agreed with this proposal, saying that “it would bring parties into schools”.

When asked, Irish students have strong opinions as to why politics is so important to our society.

Colin Layde, a student in DIT, said “There is an onus on the public and the media to hold politicians to account, and although the political system is deeply flawed, it is important that people (particularly younger people) engage with it and attempt to bring about reform.”

More telling was the fact that when asked about their political opinion, the majority of people didn't have a response.

Follow Danielle on Twitter: @DaniS1006.