4 September 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
What: Politician using Skype
When: Wednesdays 8pm
Where: Politician may be in Dublin, constituents will be in West Cork
It will be recalled that in the year 2000 a Dublin Cllr – Eoin Costello – launched an ‘online clinic’. It was the height of sophistication using an implementation of live text only chat. At that stage streaming two-way video was not feasible given that most people in Ireland were using dial-up 56k modems.
Now, some 17 years later, when many have broadband, technology has advanced to the stage where a Cork TD has announced he is launching a video clinic, in addition to his traditional clinics.
Fine Gael T.D. for Cork South West (Ireland) and Minister of State Jim Daly, plans to bring his service to west cork constituents into the 21st century by introducing “Skype Advice Clinics”.
Along with all the traditional forms of connecting with constituents such as weekly advice clinics in each of his three constituency offices, house visits and daily phone calls, the Minister is giving constituents another option of connecting with him to seek advice or express their views on various issues.
Commenting on this initiative Minister Daly said, ‘I am always thinking of new ways to connect with my constituents. From my experience meeting people face to face is the best option for all involved, and Skype delivers face to face meetings, all be it with the use of modern technology’.
Minister Daly has one of the longest commutes to Dáil Eireann from his constituency, which does not give him the opportunity to meet constituents on Dáil sitting days, acknowledging this the Minister said, ‘it’s not possible to meet face to face with constituents during Dáil sitting days, but now with my Skype clinics, I will be able to hold more face to face meetings and give more options to my constituents to connect with me. I plan to make the Skype clinics available to my constituents on Wednesday evenings around 8pm and will be advertising them accordingly. This I hope will suit people who work by day and give them another method of meeting with me.
Such an innovative idea, that has not been used by public representatives to date, means that the Clonakilty based TD is testing the technology by introducing this new method of communication. Mr. Daly said he plans to make the clinics as easy as possible for constituents by providing the use of a laptop in his constituency office, and other locations around West Cork, so that people who do not use computers can just arrive at the advertised location and have a conversation with the Minister.