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Contact.ie | Contact The Politicians

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | feature author Saturday December 13, 2008 19:59author by Mark C - Contact.ie Report this post to the editors

They Work for Us

featured image
Contact Those Who Work For You

Contact.ie, a website for contacting politicians in Ireland, went live today. Indymedia.ie caught up with Mark Conroy, the site's owner, to discuss the site with him.

Indymedia.ie:
Hi Mark, can you tell us firstly what contact.ie is?

Mark Conroy:
Hi, sure. Contact.ie allows users to contact all TDs and Senators at the click of a button. It's a new political campaigning tool; one that does not exist and one that there is a need for. It's intended to make campaigning easier. Simply put, it is a big contact form in which users can select which political party or constituency they want to email, or they can simply email all TDs and Senators.

There's nothing revolutionary about contact.ie, in the sense that all the information that is on the site (such as every TD's and Senator's email address) is freely available on the web; the only problem is that it is not available in such as way as would make contacting different groups of them easy - I'm not sure if that is a deliberate effort by government or an oversight; what I have done is simply made the information user-friendly.

Indymedia.ie:
And how did you came up with the idea for contact.ie?

Mark Conroy:
Like many activists I have been signing petitions and writing to our elected representatives but after signing many internet letters whereby a standard letter is written and then your name is inserted in the from field, for example with Amnesty, Oxfam, Concern, etc., I thought why not start writing more letters myself and then email them to all our politicians – or at least our TDs and Senators.

Indymedia.ie:
I'm still not sure I understand why you needed to setup contact.ie.

Mark Conroy:
Well, the thing is, when I looked for a site that would allow me to write my letter to our politicians and then send it to them all, I was amazed that no such site existed. The closest thing I could find was Act for Climate, which allows users to send emails to any TD, but the problem with that system is twofold:
1) You must select a constituency, and since we have 43 constituencies in Ireland that would mean sending the email 43 times.
2) If I was to use the service offered by Act for Climate I would not necessarily be using it for Climate Change campaigning and I felt that it would be unfair to do so.

They are some of the reasons behind contact.ie.

Indymedia.ie:
Couldn't you have just got a copy of all the email addresses of TDs and Senators and kept them in your email address book?

Mark Conroy:
Of course I could have done that, and I kind of did – I sent an email to the indymedia.ie mailing list asking if anyone had a list of email addresses for TDs and Senators and within a couple of hours another indymedia.ie activist had gotten back to me with what I was looking for (or rather what I had asked for), as I also wanted the option of being able to contact only, say, Laois/Offaly TDs or Mayo TDs or Green Party TDs and that would take ages to organise into folders and something that I wouldn't like to have to put others through. So, I thought, if I do this and spend all this time at it, why not share my work with others?

Indymedia.ie:
A “Creative Commons”-type approach.

Mark Conroy:
Exactly.

Indymedia.ie:
And lo and behold [drum roll] contact.ie was born.

Mark Conroy:
To all intents and purposes, yes. Although it did take me about two weeks to get it together, getting all the TDs names and then organising them by political party and by constituency and then adding all the email addresses. Add to that, I am not in any way a professional website designer, so I had to learn a lot as I went along.

Indymedia.ie:
Do you have a target user group/audience?

Mark Conroy:
Yes and No. Yes in the sense that everyone can use it; no in the sense that, actually the yes will do. Yes: my target user group is every person who would like to use it or see some value in it – young, old, healthy, sick, Irish, foreign; actually part of the project is that I am a teacher of English and CSPE (Civic, Social, and Political Education) and co-ordinator of our school's Amnesty group. As part of this I constantly tell our students to contact their elected representatives, and hopefully this site will make that task easier for them.

Indymedia.ie:
Do you have any problems with the site at the moment?

Mark Conroy:
Well, the one thing that is bothering me is that you can only email TDs by either “All TDs” or by “Political Party” or by “Constituency” and you can only do one grouping at a time. I'd like to set it up in such a way as to be able to email, for example, all Fianna Fáil TDs and Laois/Offaly TDs at the same time, rather than two emails – one to Fianna Fáil and one to Laois/Offaly.

This is something that I'll be working on in the coming weeks, but for now I think the site is in good enough shape to be useful to many individuals and groups.

Indymedia.ie:
Do you have any further plans for the site in the future:

Mark Conroy:
Yeah, I'd also like to add a section for County Councillors (and eventually Town Councillors, etc) but I think I'd have to rope in some more people to do that with me. [If any indymedia.ie readers are willing to help, get in touch.]

After that, I think it'd be great to have a section for media contacts (organised by print, radio, television, and also national and local, etc) so people and groups could send press releases and self-written articles more easily to more outlets.

Also, I need a logo and logo image designed (which I can do myself, but time is limited), so if anyone would like to design one, please do.

Indymedia.ie:
Anything else you'd like to add?

Mark Conroy:
Yeah, this is also a call for activists in other countries to setup similar endeavours. It's quite easy to do using free software such as Drupal. I'm not aware of any such site in other countries; England has WriteToThem.com (which was partially the inspiration for my site); hopefully this endeavour will encourage others to do the same as I have..

Indymedia.ie:
Thanks for talking to us; good luck with contact.ie.

Mark Conroy:
Thanks.

Related Link: http://www.contact.ie

Contact Those Who Work For You
Contact Those Who Work For You

author by Fitzpublication date Sat Dec 13, 2008 20:27Report this post to the editors

Brilliant idea. It would be cool if you also included a media contact option. Heres a short list if you decide to: http://cannabisireland.net/index.php?id=act/npeab

author by sticky stuffpublication date Sat Dec 13, 2008 22:04Report this post to the editors


Is it not already the case that Politicians can be contacted by looking up their contact details in the centre of the telephone book ; i.e. telephone number and e mail address and sometimes thier home number?

author by partitionistpublication date Sat Dec 13, 2008 23:04Report this post to the editors

Your logo should contain something like this, since your site is limited to politicians in the twenty six counties of Ireland.

26_county.gif

author by letter writerpublication date Sun Dec 14, 2008 01:47Report this post to the editors

I think many politicians have a policy of getting their secretaries to write standard letters of reply to constituents and others who take the trouble to put pen to paper. The secretaries then shove a pile of reply letters on their bosses' desks for instant signature before mailing them off. Often the boss just glances at the topic at the top of letters before adding the magic signature. Secretaries do sort out the mail into categories like VIP (letters from Ministers), queries (why are there so many ESB outages in Ballymaglack?), and letters of comment. The public rep will look into queries by phoning the local authority or other body, and sometimes asking a Dail question. The comment letters get a standard two-sentence reply along the lines: Thank you for your letter dated --, the comments of which have been noted.

I got that kind of preprinted postcard from Ian Paisley MP many years ago when I sent him a letter to the House of Commons criticising his denominational antics in Liverpool during an ecumenical gathering. His secretary sent the postcard without any signature whatsoever.

author by fanpublication date Sun Dec 14, 2008 02:07Report this post to the editors

Thanks, would love to see a theyworkforyou.co.uk for Ireland, but i can't code,I've tried and failed, :/

author by Fitzpublication date Sun Dec 14, 2008 14:00Report this post to the editors

If you pay for the hosting, domain etc. I'll code it up for ye.

author by Trade Unionistpublication date Mon Dec 15, 2008 14:49Report this post to the editors

This is a brilliant tool.

author by Mark C - Contact.iepublication date Tue Dec 16, 2008 19:43Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the comments above and the personal emails sent to wish the project well.

I was interviewed this morning on Inisowen Community Radio; the interview will be aired tomorrow between 9 and 11 and again tomorrow evening between 7 and 9.

I'll post it up if I can get it downloaded.

Related Link: http://www.icrfm.ie
author by Mark C - Contact.iepublication date Thu Dec 18, 2008 20:36Report this post to the editors

Thanks to Inishowen Community Radio for airing an interview with me today about contact.ie.

Interview contents:

Contact.ie in general
TDs and if they represent "us" or just try to get re-elected
The democratic deficit: with nods towards complicity in the Iraq war, the situation in Rossport, voting NO to Lisbon, Tara/M3
What about SPAM mail and contact.ie

Thanks for listening folks.


Embedded audio: http://ia310813.us.archive.org/0/items/InishowenCommunityRadioInterviewWithMarkConroyOfContact.ie18-12-08/icrfm_markconroy_18_12_08.mp3

Related Link: http://www.contact.ie
author by Mark C - Contact.iepublication date Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:10Report this post to the editors

At the request of some users (and an oversight on my part) a new category has been added to contact.ie.

You may now use contact.ie to email all Irish MEPs.

Mark.

Related Link: http://www.contact.ie
author by zpublication date Fri Jan 09, 2009 20:09Report this post to the editors

Do you need a user login to use this?
If you do where do you go to get one?

author by Mark C - Contact.,iepublication date Sat Jan 10, 2009 08:19Report this post to the editors

Hi Z,

Thanks for the question. Presently you do not need to have a username to use contact.ie, but someone did bring an important issue to me during the week, so I think from sometime this weekend I'll have to change that.

You will be able to get one by clicking here:
http://contact.ie/user/register

Regards,
Mark Conroy.

Related Link: http://www.contact.ie
author by Mark C - Contact.iepublication date Sat Feb 21, 2009 14:43Report this post to the editors

I am about to embark on creating Contact.ie Part 2.

Part 2 of Contact.ie is going to be an area for contacting the media.

What I am looking for is people in each county that will be able to provide (or create) a list of all media in thier county. I can they create a mailing list for each county, add certain mailing lists together to create the provinces mailing lists, and then add the provinces mailing lists together to create the national mailing lists.

If this is something that you think you could help out with, please get in contact.

_____________

I envisage (but am open to ANY suggestions) that the categories will be something like:

  1. Print
    1. National
    2. By Province
    3. By County
  2. Broadcast
  3. Radio
    1. National
    2. By Province
    3. By County
  4. Web
    1. National
    2. By Province
    3. By County

_____________

Related Link: http://contact.ie/
author by Dave Sekolpublication date Tue May 12, 2009 18:13Report this post to the editors

Any time a person wants to contact an elected official via email they have to fill out a form with your whole history before you can give your thoughts or opinions. Then if you want to let more than one official to know where you stand you have to repeat the whole process again. Yours is a great idea, the official gets the idea where the voters stand, At this point politicians have no idea where the voters stand. Please develop a site for the USA. Thx.......Dave

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