After the Lisbon Treaty referendum our political leaders find themselves in an unenviable position. Among their counterparts in Europe they have failed, for a second time, to deliver the agreement of the Irish people to a major treaty. Back home, public confidence in their leadership has been damaged. This further erodes their position in Europe. They can no longer command the confidence of others when they claim to speak on behalf of the people of Ireland.
Electoral politics provides us with the only voice we have in world affairs, which is why we all need to find some way of rebuilding lost trust in our political system, not just as a noble aspiration – which it is – but as a matter of national self-interest. We can’t afford to do without it, but this rebuilding of trust can only begin if everyone is ready to acknowledge that, when politicians conscientiously call for one course of action and when voters no less conscientiously reject that call, our democracy is not working as it should.