I am an expert on democracy and international law. I studied and wrote my Bar Exams in Germany and hold a PhD in International Law from Trinity College, Dublin.
I am the award-winning author of several books and a frequent media analyst. I have been continuously involved as a volunteer, including at Rush Community Council, Tidy Towns, Education Equality & in supporting arts and multicultural activities. I also often mentor people dealing with a housing crisis or disability.
I am deeply involved in rolling out new forms of citizen participation in Ireland, from participatory budgeting to digital democracy. I ran as an Independent in the 2016 General Election.
My Priorities & Ideas
• Create an affordable and integrated transportation system and protect our express buses
• Ensure a sufficient provision of secular schools and childcare facilities
• Provide a decentralised healthcare system with clinics in each town, paying equal regard to physical and mental health
• Reform the housing market through rent caps, lower interest rates and a transparent social housing list
• Revitalise our town centres and help our local businesses by lowering commercial rates
• Tackle anti-social behaviour by providing facilities for young people and prioritise re-opening Garda stations
• Reform the bin system to cut the cost of household waste disposal
• Improve the lives of adults and children living with a disability in our towns
• Introduce participatory budgeting and allow people to determine how I vote on council measures
• Improve transparency of political decisions by publishing who raised an issue, who delivers a service and who is affected by a decision
Name three characteristics of a great politician
A great politician is a direct conduit between the constituents’ priorities and the relevant council. I do not believe that politicians should decide on behalf of those they represent but take instructions directly from the people.
What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
I would like to build a network of local and national politicians committed to direct, digital democracy. I believe that once people understand that they can directly vote on policy decisions, they will create more just and sustainable outcomes.
What politician or ex-politician outside Ireland do you admire and why?
Strange one, but I’ve always liked Thrasybulus – a guy who lived in ancient democratic Athens and fought back from the brink of an oligarchic takeover. He was the epitome of a person who never gives up – and he was right.
What is the one mistake you witness politicians making more frequently than others?
One of my pet peeves is people committing to a timeline and then moving it. Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence in local politics – and easily fixed: Be honest about the timeline from the start and people will start trusting you.
In politics there can be a tendency for the “system” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?
I’m the kind of person who tends to get angry rather than discouraged. Also, I’m hyperactive. It works wonders.
What personal or professional achievement are you most proud of?
Turning my thesis into a mainstream book – this was hard.
Also, I did all four years of law in German, which I started learning 5 months before beginning university.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To be honest, mainly I’d tell myself not to take advice from other people. They may mean well, but if you want to do something original in life, no one else is going to understand it until you do it.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
Russell Brand; Thomas Piketty; Pericles (another Athenian democrat); Elon Musk; Buckminster Fuller (no relation); Vandana Shiva
If you could have personally witnessed anything in history, what would you want to have seen?
I would definitely want to have seen democracy in action in Athens, and to some extent I would have liked to live through the 60s (good music…). Although, I’d rather live long and witness the future.
What is on your bucket list?
Other than bringing digital democracy to fruition, absolutely nothing. I’ve gotten to do far more in life than I ever expected.
You can select one person from history and have them truthfully answer one question, who would you select and what is the question?
I’d attempt to think of a far-reaching question to ask a religious figure about the nature of reality and the afterlife.
How do you unwind/switch off?
I read. Usually 2-3 books a week.
What values are most important to you?
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Thinking about the people who have supported me and are supporting me is extremely motivating.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Leadership is overrated – and more useful for commanding an army than being active democratically. Yes I ticked the boxes (education, speaking at international conferences, etc.) – but any real development comes from talking to people at the doors.
What’s on your bookshelf
I read anything – fiction and non-fiction. I love Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels; China Mieville can be good, especially the Bas-Lag novels; Terry Pratchett was hilarious. I most recently finished: ‘So You’ve been Publicly Shamed’ by Jon Ronson.
Name some of your favourite movies
More Netflix shows than movies: Breaking Bad; Santa Clarita Diet; Altered Carbon; David Attenborough documentaries
Who are your heroes?
The people I invited to my dinner party above. And anyone who is not defined by external expectations – it takes a lot of guts to venture out on your own.
If you had 30 seconds in an elevator to convince someone to vote for you what would you say?
Don’t vote for me – vote for yourself. This is 2019 – there is no need for me to decide what I think you want – go online and tell me. If most people agree with you, then this is how I will cast my vote.