Document 164038

THE IRISH TIMES Saturday, May 12, 2007
Campaign trail:
an election miscellany
Compiled by Carl O’Brien
Overdose of ‘remarkable scenes’
Shatter keeps his eye on the balls
As any general election
candidate will tell you, it
takes balls to campaign for
public office.
And, in Fine Gael
candidate Alan Shatter’s
case, it takes about 4,000
of them. His campaign
team has been handing out
multi-coloured rubber
balls in shopping centres
across south Dublin,
emblazoned with the logo:
“Shatter is on the ball”.
So far, they’ve proved a huge success. So much so that when
the former TD is out canvassing he finds himself surrounded by
frenzied voters eager to get their hands on his balls, as it were.
“It’s been great fun,” he told Campaign Trail yesterday.
“They’re proving to be very popular. We’ve had parents and
grandparents chasing after us to get them.”
Not everyone is happy, though. When he approached a
couple and their two young children the other day, they
harrumphed loudly when offered a ball. “Clearly,” he surmised,
“they were Fianna Fáil voters.”
Perspective . . .
“Election fever is growing in North Kilkenny”
– A headline in last week’s Kilkenny People,
describing the much-anticipated Muintir Na Tíre
community council election in the village of Clogh
FF candidate seeks power with ballad
Ever wonder what the secret to a successful election campaign
is? Sound policies? Nope. A well-organised constituency
operation? Close, but no cigar. An incredibly annoying
campaign song with repetitive lyrics? You got it.
Fianna Fáil’s Cllr John Fleming is the latest politician to
release a ballad appealing to the electorate for first-preference
votes. It’s a humble homage to his personal qualities and his
quiet dedication to the good people of South Kerry.
The song mentions him as “the greatest man that we have
ever known”, “the greatest man in Kerry, from Dingle to
Rathmore”, and “the best thing the Dáil could have”.
Evidently, the electorate begged to differ, opting not to
elect him to the Dáil when he last stood for election.
FG give Mairead a helping hand
Have Fine Gael apparatchiks
been thumbing through
self-help books in a bid to
boost their election
It certainly sounds like it.
Check out this motivational
text message sent out to
the party faithful in Louth
after its candidate, Mairead
McGuinness, wobbled in the
polls the other day.
“Hi all, polls show a drop
of 5 per cent for Mairead.
We need to give as much
support as possible. We are
the best damn team on the hustings. Let's show them we have
the best damn candidate. Thanks. Emir.”
Cue outbreaks of whooping, hollering and high-fiving across
Louth and environs.
Quote, unquote
“I think he [Gerry Adams] said that about teachers.
I think he said that about corporation tax. Any day
now, he’ll eliminate income tax. So he would be
great. In fact, I’d certainly think of voting for him,
because everything would be solved.”
– Taoiseach Bertie Ahern trying out a bit of irony when
asked about Gerry Adams’s offer to give the nurses all they
Election gets hairy as mullet returns
It’s the hairstyle that’s sweeping the
nation. Some misguided souls may
ridicule the mullet haircut as an
emblem for all that was questionable
about 1980s taste. However, a host of
election candidates are proudly
displaying their long, flowing manes.
The wispy locks of John Bracken –
the Independent candidate for
Laois/Offaly – have already been
displayed in all their glory on these
Now enter Peadar O’Donnell, PD
candidate for Tipperary South, and
Peter Enright, Green Party candidate
for Mayo, who are both causing a stir
with their hairstyles.
Our election candidates clearly know something many style
gurus don’t. The mullet has never gone out of fashion.
Barney Hoskyns, author of The Mullet: Hairstyle of the
Gods, confirms this. “We’ve seen in recent months it has been
making a comeback on the catwalks in a sort of ironic way,” he
If mullet-wearing candidates fare well come election time,
expect to see an outbreak of flowing locks on politicians
across the country.
◆ Keep Campaign Trail informed
of happenings on the hustings by
contacting [email protected]
Sorry kids,
don’t count
on us for a
It’s our money and we’ve decided to spend it. So, we’re off
to Beijing first, then Lake Garda, then Cape Town, and after
that, who knows? And don’t worry about us – all our flights,
accommodation and guided excursions are taken care of by
The Travel Department.
See you soonish, Mum & Dad
P.S. Your rent’s due on Friday.
The world is waiting
Holidays operated by The Travel Department are fully licensed and bonded by the
Commission for Aviation Regulation (T.O.163)
On the airwaves
Shane Hegarty
On Thursday evening, the nation turned
on RTÉ’s Six One News to be greeted
with what newsreader Sharon Ní
Bheoláin described as “remarkable
scenes”. The phrase is almost worn out
from use during this campaign so far.
On Thursday, those scenes involved
the Irish Nurses’ Organisation confer-
ence where Mary Harney and Brian
Lenihan received what Charlie Bird first
described as a “frosty” reception, but
later upgraded to an “icy” one.
Yet the bulletin opted not to show the
most remarkable of those scenes.
Viewers needed to have watched TV3’s
earlier news report to see the Minister
for Health’s speech being greeted by the
sound of one hand clapping.
It was as if RTÉ was showing a little
mercy towards the Government parties,
who must be fervently hoping that very
soon the “remarkable scenes” will
involve someone else’s discomfort.
The PD press conference, Albert
Reynolds’s accusations, the nurses’
strike: with the exception of his visits to
Stormont and the Boyne, and the
peculiar solace he now finds in the company of Ian Paisley, it was a tough media
week for the Taoiseach and his allies.
It wasn’t as bad as the first week of the
campaign, and on Sunday night Ahern
had given a confident interview to
RTÉ1’s The Week in Politics (watched by
300,000 viewers – double its normal figures).
But how much did the resurrection of
“Bertiegate” scupper any plans to
engage more with radio and television?
He appeared at Fianna Fáil’s press conference yesterday morning, but until
then it was as if Ahern believed that
every interviewer only really had one
big question, and that all the other queries are just stepping stones towards it.
You could see how guarded he was by
the way he treated a light interview from
a TV3 reporter on Thursday. He was
asked nothing tougher than “how do you
relax in the evening?” but his mouth had
a rictus expression that suggested he
was expecting a jab in the ribs.
To compound matters, the impending
resignation of Tony Blair allowed com-
mentators to make parallels between the
two men, as if in the slow setting of the
Blair era we were also getting a glimpse
at the twilight of Ahern’s leadership.
Blair’s speech was shown during
RTÉ’s morning show Campaign Daily,
and host Bryan Dobson couldn’t resist
honing in on one of the outgoing prime
minister’s key lines. “Ten years is long
enough,” repeated Dobson. “That’s not a
sentiment that Bertie Ahern will be
admitting to.”
It would be interesting to know if
before the controversy over his financial
affairs the Taoiseach had planned to do
more one-on-one radio and television
interviews. This week, Trevor Sargent,
Pat Rabbitte and Gerry Adams were all
busy doing the rounds.
Even Michael McDowell, despite
starting his week with the “remarkable
scenes” at his Sunday morning press conference, was allowed to put in a strong
performance on TV3’s Polls Apart with
Matt Cooper and Eddie Hobbs.
But it is Enda Kenny who has
attempted to step into the Bertie-shaped
hole. He was in open-necked shirt mode
on TV3’s Ireland AM; combative on
Newstalk; interviewed on local radio stations and RTÉ radio.
If “Bertiegate” has done anything, it
has allowed Kenny to impose himself on
the coverage in the way that his “presidential” campaign required.
Things will change next week. On
Thursday night, the two men will come
face-to-face in a live television debate
that could prove a tipping point in
choosing the next taoiseach.
Enda Kenny will be hoping to drive
home his advantage. Bertie Ahern will
be hoping to prove his resilience and
reassert his authority. The massive television audience, meanwhile, will be
hoping for more “remarkable scenes”.
A touch of
gives way
to foot
On the canvass
Kathy Sheridan
with Nicky Kelly
Candidates get used to packs of
snarling dogs. They learn
stoicism in the face of
non-functioning doorbells. They
keep smiling when the
umpteenth gas card, stunned by
her own originality, folds her
arms and smirks : “So what are
you going to do for me?”
The one element they have no
control over is the weather. And
Labour seems to trigger its own
mini-weather patterns.
Yesterday, when the battle bus
rolled into Kilcoole, a gentle
drizzle became a deluge. As Pat
Rabbitte and local candidates,
Nicky Kelly and Liz McManus,
stood gamely waiting for parents
outside the school, minders
wielding protective umbrellas
over the leader
managed to funnel
another few
gallons of rain on
to his pinstripes.
“Why would
anyone vote for
anybody who’s
prepared to do
this? This is
masochism,” he
declared to no one
in particular.
We tittered as
the most urbane of
canvassers, who
manages to be
without being
sickly, tetchily and
damply pointed
out the obvious.
“Why am I
where there are no
people?,” he
wondered, after
shaking the hands of two women
– the only human presence to be
seen – working in the petrol
Out in the rain, a man stops
and gets out of his car with some
deliberation. He was there to say
that he was giving Labour one
more chance, he said.
He was voting for change, not
for Fianna Fáil, as happened in
1992, and he didn’t want to see it
happening again. “We’re getting
a bit of that all right,” conceded
Rabbitte later.
As the school empties, women
fleeing the downpour shake
hands on the run, pausing to say
“Howya, Nicky.”
“Give us a number one and
we’ll mind the baby for you,” he
jokes. Kelly has been through the
wars in the past. He received a
full presidential pardon in 1993
following his wrongful
conviction for the 1976 Sallins
mail train robbery.
In November last year, he was
fined ¤730 at Wicklow District
Court for motoring offences and
picked up five penalty points on
his licence arising from his
conviction for not having
Kelly is no flowery phrase-
spinner. An eager handshake, a
few earnest words. “Only 19
more votes,” is the slogan and the
focus, a reminder of the 2002
marathon when he lost out to
Mildred Fox by that number.
This time round, public
transport is the major issue. He
talks about the commuting
drudge that is the lot of over
3,500 south Wicklow commuters.
“They spend three to four
hours a day in a car. No quality of
life. When a 6am train was laid
on, no one thought to put on a
corresponding one in the midafternoon for people who were
in early and wanted to leave
A lethal and mysterious
nine-kilometre break in the dual
carriageway to Arklow remains
two-way, because – the National
Roads Authority informed – a
“political decision” meant the
money was no longer available.
Kelly claims it was diverted to
an orbital road for Waterford, in
Martin Cullen’s constituency.
“At the last election, no one
wanted to engage on the
doorsteps because they were all
doing so well. This time, you
can’t get away from them”.
There is quiet optimism,
buoyed by yesterday’s poll, that
Labour can recapture the glory
days and two seats. At Arklow
Community College, the
reception party
is a line-up of
neat, cheerful
students, head
prefects and tall
to small
members of the
student council.
The school
has been
waiting for a PE
hall for 20
years, has seven
pre-fabs bolted
on and is
expecting two
more. It’s high
on the list for an
extension, but
no one is losing
the run of
two teachers
can be heard
that Rabbitte “comes across very
well . . . very charming”. In the
classrooms, he scores 50 per cent
recognition with the fifth years.
Kelly scores 100. They know him
as Nicky.
The principal, Pat Bolger,
proudly escorts the party to the
vocational training area, where a
practical beauty therapy exam is
in progress. “Jazes, Nicky, you
could do with a touch of that,”
says Nicky’s boss, as we pile in to
scrutinise a row of mortified
women, lying prone, having their
feet massaged.
“An unconscionable
intrusion,” Rabbitte pronounces
cheerfully, heading off for a
meeting in the antiquated home
economics room, with members
of Arklow Chamber of
Commerce. It’s a sorry report
from the Garden of Ireland: raw
sewage and rats in the river,
undrinkable water, impossible
On the way out, a student
presents him with a silver pen
set. “When we’re in the next
government and signing for a
new school, that’ll be the pen
we’ll use,” Nicky tells the
student. Everyone grins but stays
‘Last time no
one wanted
to engage...
They were
all doing so
well. Now
you can’t get
away from
Student beauty therapist Pauline Weadick gets a helping hand from Wicklow Labour Party candidate Nicky Kelly at Arklow
Community College yesterday. Party leader Pat Rabbitte watches on. Photograph: Garry O’Neill
Electors with Physical Illness or Physical Disability
Electors with a physical illness or physical disability who have difficulty gaining access to their local polling station may apply
to have their vote transferred to a more accessible station in their constituency. This facility is intended to assist these
electors who find access to their local station difficult because of the situation or design of the building.
In order to avail of the facility, an elector should apply in writing to the returning officer for his or her constituency by
Wednesday 16th May 2007 at the latest. A special application form is not necessary. The names and addresses of the
various returning officers for each of the 43 Dáil constituencies are given below.
If possible, the elector should suggest an alternative polling station in the constituency which is both suitable and convenient
to him or her.
Name & Address
Cork East
Cork North-West
Cork South-West
Cork North-Central
Cork South-Central
Donegal North-East
Donegal South-West
Dublin Central
Dublin North-Central
Dublin North-East
Dublin North-West
Dublin South-Central
Dublin South-East
Dublin Mid-West
Dublin North
Dublin South
Dublin South-West
Dublin West
Dun Laoghaire
Galway East
Galway West
Kerry North
Kerry South
Kildare North
Kildare South
Limerick East
Limerick West
Meath East
Meath West
Roscommon South-Leitrim
Sligo-North Leitrim
Tipperary North
Tipperary South
Ms. Mary N Enright, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse, Kilkenny.
Ms. Josephine Duffy,The Courthouse, Church Square, Monaghan.
Mr. Patrick Wallace, Circuit Court Office, 1 Bindon Street, Ennis, Co. Clare.
Mr. Michael O’Driscoll, 70 South Mall, Cork.
Mr. Martin A Harvey, 33 Washington Street, Cork.
Ms. Geraldine O’Connor, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.
Mr. Brendan Walsh, 13 Fownes Street, Dublin 2.
Mr. John M Fitzpatrick, Unit 17,Tolka Valley Business Park, Ballyboggan Road, Finglas, Dublin 11.
Ms. Marian Chambers Higgins, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse, Galway.
Mr. Padraig Burke, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse,Tralee, Co. Kerry.
Ms. Eithne Coughlan, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse, Naas, Co. Kildare.
Ms.Verona Lambe,The Courthouse, Cormac Street,Tullamore, County Offaly.
Mr. Patrick J Meghen, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse, Merchant’s Quay, Limerick.
Ms. Imelda Branigan, Circuit Court Office, Church Street, Longford.
Ms. Mairead Ahern, Court House, Market Square, Dundalk, Co. Louth.
Mr. Fintan J Murphy, Circuit Court Office, Breaffy Road, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.
Ms. Máire Tehan, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse,Trim, Co. Meath.
Mr.William Lyster, Courthouse, Abbey Street, Roscommon.
Mr. Kieran McDermott, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse, Sligo.
Ms. Mary Delehanty, Courthouse, Clonmel, Co Tipperary.
Mr. Niall Rooney, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse, Catherine Street,Waterford.
Ms. Marie Garahy, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse, County Hall,Wexford.
Ms. Breda Allen, Circuit Court Office, Courthouse,Wicklow.