Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Press Release: Budget ’10: Labour Councillor Promises “Steadfast Opposition” to Water Charges Plan

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council, has promised a campaign of steadfast opposition to proposals in Budget 2010 to introduce domestic water charges.

The 27-year old Tallaght-based Councillor recently proposed a motion at the Council, which would be responsible for the local implementation of such charges, to oppose any attempts to introduce a water tax. The motion succeeded on a vote of 21-2, winning support from members of all parties with the exception of Fianna Fáil.

Looney’s motion proposed that the “Council opposes the introduction of domestic water charges and favours, instead, a combination of water conservation and education measures and a genuinely progressive taxation regime which adequately resources local government.”

We all agree with the need to conserve water and ensure its careful use,” noted Cllr Looney. “But doing so through the tax system, as proposed, highlights the difference between Labour, who view water as a basic human right, and those like the Greens, who see water as a scarce commodity that should be rationed regardless of the social cost.”

“Water charges will hit working people and those at the fringes of society hardest. The utterly regressive way in which the government have proposed their introduction – in which each household will have a flat allowance and will be forced to pay for all water use above that allowance – does not take into account the diversity of water requirements for types of households, or the different water use regimes for larger families, families with young children, those who may be incontinent or require other water use due to illness, disability or other needs.”

“Such a departure will be viewed as a tasty opportunity for profit by large multinationals who will lick their lips at the drip-drip to water privatisation. The experience both in Ireland, in terms of waste charges, and abroad in general, is of taxes first, followed by privatisation, followed by worsening services and asset-stripping.”

“Our Council, representing more than a quarter of a million people in South Dublin, has taken a stand in support of water as a human right, and not a commodity to be played with. Fianna Fáil and the Greens will face a sustained campaign of opposition from working people if they intend to go down this road.”

“Unfortunately, due to the lack of power afforded to local Councils, we in South Dublin don’t have the power to stop water charges being introduced unilaterally by the Government – but they won’t come here if we have anything to say about it,” finished Looney.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Press Release: Cllr Looney Welcomes Water Charge Opposition on South Dublin Council, Slams FF Support

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has welcomed the decision of the 26-member Council to oppose the re-introduction of domestic water charges. Looney was commenting in the wake of a 21-2 vote in favour of his motion at November’s Council meeting on Monday evening, which won support from members of all parties with the exception of Fianna Fáil.

Looney’s motion proposes that the “Council opposes the introduction of domestic water charges and favours, instead, a combination of water conservation and education measures and a genuinely progressive taxation regime which adequately resources local government.”

During the debate, the Tallaght Central Councillor noted that water charges were no longer aspirational and it was a question of when, not if, the government would try to force the double tax through. “We all agree in the need to conserve water and ensure its careful use,” noted Cllr Looney in proposing the motion. “But doing so through the tax system, as proposed, highlights the difference between those like myself, who view water as a basic human right, and those like the Greens, who see water as a scarce commodity that should be rationed regardless of the social cost.”

“Such a departure will be viewed as a tasty opportunity for profit by large multinationals who will lick their lips at the drip-drip to water privatisation. Furthermore, claims by Council management that such a tax might only cost in the region of €250 a year are misleading. Mary Hanafin’s quote in the Irish Times from December 12th 2007, that “families would be paying €700 or €800 per annum,’ is a more accurate reflection of the extra tax accruing under a water charges regime,” said Looney.

“Water charges will hit working people and those at the fringes of society hardest. The utterly regressive way in which the government have proposed their introduction – in which each household will have a flat allowance and will be forced to pay for all water use above that allowance – does not take into account the diversity of water requirements for types of households, or the different water use regimes for larger families, families with young children, those who may be incontinent or require other water use due to illness, disability or other needs.”

“I am delighted that my motion has passed and that this Council, representing more than a quarter of a million people in South Dublin, has taken a stand in support of water as a human right, and not a commodity to be played with. I am also glad to see that most other parties have also taken a stance opposing the water tax, although it was not surprising to see two out of four Fianna Fáil Councillors vote in favour, and their two colleagues choosing to leave the Chamber shortly before the vote.”

“Unfortunately, due to the lack of power afforded to local Councils, we in South Dublin don’t have the power to stop water charges being introduced unilaterally by the Government – but they won’t come here if we have anything to say about it,” finished Looney.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Meeting the VEC Challenge

As previously mentioned, September has been fairly hectic for meetings. As well as the meeting of the full County Council, we'll have completed two area committees, four Draft Development Plan meetings, a traffic management meeting and an OPF (organisation, procedure and finance) meeting by the end of the month. That's not to mention Labour Party meetings, meeting with residents' associations, individual residents and the rest.

I'm not complaining, by the way! It's an honour and a privilege to have been elected and I like to think I attend without making a meal out of it!

But one meeting I didn't mind attending in the slightest was tonight's meeting of the County Dublin Vocational Education Committee. I was nominated to the VEC by South Dublin County Council back in July. Tonight was my second meeting, held in the VEC Offices in Tuansgate, Tallaght - just across the road from the old Woodies.I'm a VEC graduate - having attended Greenhills College VEC from 1995-2001. Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm genuinely passionate about education at all levels; and the wide coverage of the VEC, which runs community schools and colleges at second level, new community primary schools and other educational centres including Traveller training and Youthreach, will hopefully mean that I can help play a part in advancing the education of our communities in the years ahead.

One of the areas I am interested in is the new community model of primary schools being developed by County Dublin VEC; two are already open, Scoil Choilm and Scoil Ghráinne in Dublin 15.

Tonight, I was appointed by the VEC to three Boards of Management until the VEC's "Quinquennial Meeting" in December. The three colleges are Coláiste de hÍde in Tymon, St MacDara's CC in Templeogue and my alma mater, Greenhills College. More meetings in the months ahead, but I really don't mind!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Getting Our Priorities Right

The Progressive Alliance in control of South Dublin County Council, which consists of nine Labour and three Sinn Féin Councillors as well as non-party Cllr Guss O'Connell, unveiled our pledge on expenses on Monday.

We have agreed to forego all funding for external conferences - for which Councillors are entitled to up to €4500 per annum - and have instead earmarked that money for the provision of the first ever emergency homeless accommodation centre in South Dublin. If all 26 Councillors donated from this fund, over half a million euro could be raised for the centre. We have invited all Cllrs to sign the pledge to ensure that the real needs of the County are met in these awful times.

I am glad to say that as well as the 13 Councillors in the Alliance, two other Councillors have also signed the pledge; Cllr Gino Kenny (People Before Profit Alliance) and Cllr John Lahart (Fianna Fáil). I'd hope to be able to report that the other 11 Councillors have signed at some stage in the near future.

Pictured at the launch of the pledge are, from left, Cllrs Gino Kenny (PBPA), Guss O'Connell (Ind), Dermot Looney (Labour), Robert Dowds (Labour), Caitríona Jones (Labour), Deputy Mayor Paddy Cosgrave (Labour), Cathal King (SF), Matthew McDonagh (SF), Pamela Kearns (Labour), Eamon Tuffy (Labour) and Seán Crowe (SF). Signatories not pictured are Mayor Mick Duff (Labour), Cllr Marie Corr (Labour), Cllr Eamonn Maloney (Labour) and Cllr John Lahart (FF).

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Clarification on the Lisbon Treaty

In recent weeks I have been contacted by a number of constituents, members of the public, various campaigns and the press regarding my position on the forthcoming Lisbon Treaty Referendum. I want to use this short blog post to clarify my position on this matter.

In 2005, during the public discourse on the then-recently signed EU Constitution, I spoke and wrote in various contexts against that document. I was not heavily involved in that campaign, nor have I played a significant role in campaigning against its subsequent manifestation in the Treaty of Lisbon (primarily due to other political commitments). However, I was opposed as a matter of record to both the original EU Constitution and the initial Lisbon Treaty referendum. I also clarified this stance on frequent occasions during my recent successful campaign for election to South Dublin County Council, as evidenced by an "Election Diary" blogpost here.

I recently signed a document, along with a small number of other Labour Councillors as well as others from the left, in opposition to the Lisbon Treaty. Details on this are available at I have also contributed a short piece, similar to this blog post, to our local 'paper, the Tallaght Echo, who requested all 26 Councillors on South Dublin County Council to contribute their views on the Treaty.

I respect the democratic decision at recent Labour Party conferences to campaign for a yes vote for the Lisbon Treaty. Out of that respect, as a Labour Party Councillor, I intend taking no part in campaigning against this treaty and I will not be making any further comment to journalists or other parties. I've directed all those who are interested to this blog post for a clarification on my stance.

I have been on record since 2005 as opposing this Treaty on a number of grounds. It would be hypocritical of me to reverse a well-known and public stance. There has been a tradition of dissent on European matters in the Labour Party, right back to the time when some Labour members supported entry to the EEC in 1973 - in contravention of then party policy. Although, with regard to this campaign, I am voting ‘no,’ I share the same overall vision for a social, democratic and sustainable Europe as those campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote in the Labour Party.

The referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is one of many important decisions in front of our country in the coming weeks and it is crucial that as many people as possible exercise their hard-fought franchise by using their vote on October 2nd. gives a fairly neutral overview as well as links to the treaty itself and information on how to check the voting register.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Press Release - Looney Calls for Live Webcasting of Council Meetings

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has called for meetings of the Council to be broadcast live on the Internet.

Looney has submitted a question to September’s Council meeting requesting the County Manager to provide the facility “in the interests of democracy and transparency.” The written question also notes the “free and easy-to-use options available online” to webcast the meetings.

“Our neighbouring Councils of Fingal, Dublin City and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown all broadcast Council meetings live on their respective websites, and archive the meetings so that interested constituents can view the meetings,” noted Looney.

“Council meetings are already open to the public but are poorly-attended. Opening up Council business through the internet will further serve that democratic function as well as making it easier for interested members of the public, the media and others to view meetings. Archiving the meetings online will make sure that Councillors and officials are held to account.”

“With free to use software now available for streaming online events and archiving, I am confident that the County Manager will respond positively to my call, and that streaming may begin later in the year.”

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Mandate calls on Minister for Enterprise to investigate Spawell dispute

Mandate Trade Union members in the Spawell Pub and Nightclub are continuing their protest today at the Spawell complex in Templeogue. The workers were made redundant two weeks ago with no redundancy money and with approximately one month’s wages owed to each of the staff members.

CB Taverns, trading as the Spawell Licenced Premises, ceased trading on Monday, 10 August 2009 with the loss of 32 jobs. The company has still not paid staff members wages outstanding to them including over two weeks wages and holiday pay.

Mr Eddie Cassidy, Divisional Organiser for Mandate said the workers are getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of action by management in the company and are disappointed that an employer can treat its workers in this manner and get away with it for so long.

“Clearly this should be a wake up call to workers and unions and it shows that closer scrutiny of businesses is needed in order to prevent this type of incident happening again. The management in CB Taverns have been very confrontational and unhelpful during this whole debacle. They are responsible for the situation these workers find themselves in but it would appear that they are unwilling to shoulder any of that responsibility.

“Mandate will do everything in its power to ensure that these workers receive appropriate compensation and that preventative measures are taken to ensure employers behave responsibly in future. Mandate is calling on Mary Coughlan, the Minister for the Enterprise, Trade and Employment, to investigate this incident and take steps to protect workers from unscrupulous and irresponsible employers in future.”

Mr Cassidy also said that the workers have received tremendous support from members of the public and also from political representatives.

“We’ve received a lot of support from the public and politicians in the area. The workers have asked me in particular to thank Deputy Pat Rabbitte and Cllr Dermot Looney of the Labour Party, Deputy Brian Hayes of Fine Gael and Cllr Sean Crowe of Sinn Fein for their continued support,” concluded Mr Cassidy.

Monday, 17 August 2009


Sincere apologies for the lack of recent updates. It's been quite a busy summer of settling in on the Council, for what it's worth!

Part of the reason for the lack of updates is that we're looking to shift to a new platform for the blog. More news on that real soon!

For now, if I may be indulged...

Friday, 17 July 2009

Looney Slams “Conservative Clique” on Council

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has slammed the “new conservative clique” of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on the Council. Looney’s comments come in the wake of a Labour motion on suspending the issuing of new taxi licenses at the July meeting of the Council.

The motion, proposed by Cllr Eamonn Maloney, called on the Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to instruct the Taxi Regulator to suspend the issuing of taxi licenses immediately. Debate on the motion centred on the pressures put on local taxi drivers by deregulation. The motion was passed by 13-9 with the support of the Labour Party, Sinn Féin and PBPA Councillor, but was opposed by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Speaking during the debate, Cllr Looney noted that while no-one wanted to see a dearth of taxis similar to pre-2000 levels, the philosophy of deregulation had failed taxi drivers and endangered the drivers themselves and their passengers. Looney called for a suspension of license issuing until a new regulatory framework was put in place which would ensure a strict inspection regime, rigorous new entry standards and a pathway to achieving a wheelchair accessible fleet.

“The passing of this motion sends a strong message to government from South Dublin – we’ve had enough of the deregulation philosophy that has caused so much pain both in the taxi industry and in society in general,” noted Looney.

"That Fianna Fáil’s Councillors opposed this motion is no surprise. After all, their policies have led to the dangerous over-supply of taxis in Dublin to such a point that we now have more taxis than New York City.”

“Fine Gael’s acquiescence with their fellow-travellers in Fianna Fáil will come as a surprise to some. However, the charge against the Labour motion, led by Cllr Colm Brophy, came with an out-of-touch political ideology that continues to believe, despite all we’ve seen, that the market is king.”

“Taxi drivers and their families, as well as passengers and the general public, should be mindful of this right-wing claptrap when considering their political support. Labour have again shown that we are the real alternative with serious ideas about reforming and securing the taxi industry.”

Press Release - Council Decision on Rovers Game ‘Very Questionable’ - Looney

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has said that the Council’s decision to cancel Shamrock Rovers’ home fixture against Sligo Rovers on Saturday night at Tallaght Stadium is “very questionable” and has called on Council officials to clarify the decision.

SDCC, who own the stadium, confirmed to the FAI on Thursday July 9th that the game would not be going ahead due to preparatory work on the ground for the ‘glamour’ friendly fixture between Shamrock Rovers and Real Madrid on Monday July 20th. SDCC have cited “health and safety” concerns in their decision. The cancellation of the fixture has come under criticism from both the FAI and Shamrock Rovers, who have managed to refix the game at the eleventh hour for Tolka Park.

“I’ve been contacted by dozens of Rovers’ fans who are rightly angry at this decision,” Looney noted.” “I am deeply worried about a decision that seems to undermine League of Ireland football in Tallaght.”

“Rovers have already played a number of home matches with construction work going on around the Stadium, including the recent friendly fixture against Newcastle United and the first home game of the season, which was also against Sligo Rovers. With the FAI agreeing to provide additional security resources for this Saturday, I cannot see any reason behind cancelling this fixture other than prioritising the friendly fixture with Real Madrid.”

“As a supporter of St Patrick’s Athletic, I have attended dozens of League of Ireland games on effective ‘building sites’ during upgrades of grounds such as Richmond Park, Dalymount Park, Turner’s Cross, Flancare Park and Terryland Park and, with appropriate security measures taken, there have never been any issues.”

“I have asked the manager of Tallaght Stadium to clarify the exact health and safety concerns and to specify whether retaining the quality of the pitch for Monday was a factor in the decision. I have also asked him to clarify the involvement of the Platinum One company, who have brought Real Madrid to Ireland, in the decision.”

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Press Release - “Labour will lead the charge against water charges”: Cllr Looney

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council, has said that the Labour Party will lead a campaign against the introduction of domestic water charges at all levels. Cllr Looney was speaking on foot of the "An Bord Snip Nua" report commissioned by the government which advocates a water tax. This commitment has been previously indicated by Minister John Gormley who stated that the re-introduction of water charges was ‘inevitable’ in a speech to the Academy of Engineering Institute on Tuesday, April 28th.

“I oppose the reintroduction of water charges,” Looney said. "So does the Labour Party."

“Resource struggles for water, particularly in the context of climate change, are hitting headlines across the world. But this latest proposal highlights the difference between Labour’s philosophy and that of this conservative government; they look at water as a commodity to be rationed, while Labour views it within the rights framework. We believe that everybody has the right to free, clean and safe water provided, not through private companies, but accountable public utilities. Water should be paid for through general taxation, not in the form of a regressive stealth tax.”

“After the recent election, I know that working people are very concerned with the possibility of another stealth tax. As well as Labour, others on the left are on record as opposing the water tax. Now it’s up to all other councillors on South Dublin County Council – particularly those in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - to come clean and state, as a matter of public record, whether they will vote with us to oppose water charges.”

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

One Month On - Cllr Dermot Looney

Well, firstly, it's been a while. A month since I last blogged - I keep putting it off. Hopefully this marks a return to more regular posts.

The big difference since June 5th is that I am now Cllr Dermot Looney. I'm deeply honoured to have been elected with an impressive 2329 first preference votes and to have received such an endorsement from the community I grew up in.

Count day was not as stressful as I thought with the tallies looking good for us from early on, although it took until after 1am for the Returning Officer to declare me the fourth elected of six. ElectionsIreland has count details although with a small caveat - the final count details are incorrect. The correct order on the final count was my colleague Cllr Pamela Kearns winning the third seat, me winning the fourth, Cllr Sean Crowe taking the fifth and FF's Cllr Eamonn Walsh taking the sixth.

I have already sent many thank you letters and mails to supporters and well-wishers but I am very late to say thanks to those of you who read this blog regularly. Having analysed the tallies and received contact from a number of voters we believe that a small but significant vote came to our campaign based on our activity online - and that comes from a vibrant, interactive mix across the various platforms.

The last month has been somewhat hectic with work and politics - hence the lack of blogging. Politically, much of the work has involved getting familiar with the Council and attending meetings. I am delighted that we have established, for the first time ever, a Left Alliance on South Dublin County Council with 9 Labour Councillors, 3 Sinn Féin Cllrs and Independent Cllr Guss O'Connell. The combined vision of this alliance aims for a fairer, more sustainable county and one of our first moves - to reallocate funds from external Conferences (perhaps unfairly known as the junket fund) to provision of the first emergency homeless accommodation in South Dublin - shows the kind of priorities we have.

More to follow in the days to come. The blog will change focus and I'm interested in hearing, by email or comment, what kind of site some of the readers would like to see from an elected Cllr.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Election Diary: Polling Day

Well it's been an awesome 14 months or so, but it had to come to an end sometime.

In six hours time, voters across Tallaght Central are going to the polls.

I am immensely proud of the campaign we have run. I have engaged dozens of young people in active politics, in what has been the most substantial youth-driven campaign in Ireland - in one of the largest LEA's. I have brought real Labour values and politics to thousands of residents in community campaigns and through our political messages. It is worthwhile and of itself to have put forward such a campaign, but its legacy will be stronger still with an electoral mandate tomorrow.

I am asking blog readers to do just 3 things.

1. Vote Dermot Looney #1 in Tallaght Central, and transfer to my Labour colleagues, then keep left against the government.

2. Please vote Proinsias de Rossa #1 for Europe and do likewise. If you are not living in Tallaght Central, please vote for your local Labour candidates to build the real alternative in Irish politics.

3. Choose the friends you have in Dublin 12, 6w and 24. Then text, email, call, tweet, or send messages on facebook or bebo to them asking them to vote Dermot Looney #1. Take those 5 minutes now to make the difference.

There were many events and moments on the canvass today which I would love to blog, but tiredness and the early start tomorrow mean they will have to wait. Hopefully, there may be some opportunities to post during the quiet times tomorrow. In the meantime keep your eye on - who tonight called our web campaign "ace" - for the latest news.

I'll leave you with this.

As a young child I was deeply touched and inspired by Nelson Mandela's long walk to freedom and the queues and queues of people in South Africa's first free election. Those votes were won by an incredible struggle against a racist apartheid regime that seemed untouchable. Our right to vote comes from equally noble and oft-bloody struggles, from the Suffragette movement and the campaign to extend the franchise to more than just men of property, to the independence movement in Ireland and the great democratic revolutions of trade unionism and the Land League. Building the future is most prominent in the politics I espouse, but remembering the past must provide the foundation. Be sure to vote - and use it well!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Guest Post - Paul Dillane : "Time to Go Looney and Labour"

Paul Dillane is Campaign Manager of the Looney for Tallaght Central campaign.

Time to Go Looney and Labour

The local election campaign of 2009 is now drawing to a close.

By far the most response on the doors has been “so long as you are not Fianna Fail.” It has been a dramatic fall from grace for a party that swept the board at the general election.

When the short, intensive run in to the local elections began, the Dermot Looney campaign turned itself from its focus of political activism on local issues to attempting to gather votes from involvement in these issues. Again and again, we argued with people on the doors that the time was right to elect a campaigner to the council who would continue in the best traditions of Labour in the area.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the campaign has been the opportunity to politically engage with people across the ward of Tallaght Central. There is huge anger at the government and a good deal of disillusionment abroad. Convincing people that a political alternative is available has been a real task.

Many voters who opted for FF in previous elections are willing now to stitch allegiance. But those voters are often very weary of a potential Fine Gael government. We have insisted that we are campaigning for a Labour led government that represents a real break from the past, a real possibility in the now much altered political landscape.

There has been plenty of craic on the campaign trail. Meeting the occasional political loyalist from opposition campaigns has lightened the load considerably. The political grilling is part of the course for canvassers, or knockers as we are known in the states - or bashers, as we are called in some traditional elements of Irish political activism. Almost every voter, however, has been courteous and welcoming and willing to engage.

If you are a voter in the Tallaght Central ward, and you haven’t made up your mind, but are thinking of going Looney, I have a lot to say to you. However, I am warned that the blogospherere won’t hold pages of argument so I have condensed my case into 2 points.

Dermot Looney is:

The Labour candidate.

- Voting Labour is the way to put up a signpost to a new society in Ireland that is genuinely Republican and Democratic.

- Don’t go toward Fine Gael. Look at their policies; they represent more of the same.

None of the smaller parties can lead an alternative government.

Dermot Looney is not:

A member a party whose councillors have nearly ruined Dublin with disastrous planning (we are looking at you FF and FG), or active in a party who continue the dishonourable relationship between wealthy interests and politics that caused the scandalous planning issues in Dublin (we are still looking at you FF and FG).

Please support Dermot Looney tomorrow and thanks for reading the Looney Left during this campaign.

Election Diary: T-2: 29 Hours Til Polls Open

I know you're all fed up of election clichés at this stage, so I won't bore you with stories of my feet, blistered though they are, or my haircut, which the eagle-eyed amongst you might spot in before and after modes in the pictures below.

No, I'm going to tell a few other clichés.

Before I do, here's a pic of me at the Belgard Luas Stop this morning, where we have been leafleting and speaking to local people all week. An early start was compounded by the unbelievable punctuality of Enda Duffy, whose role in the campaign is everything from a transport manager to poster master and canvass director. He took this picture too - the "Maria Parodi" shot of my campaign!

(For those not in the know both Maria and my former Labour Youth sparring partner Rebecca Moynihan have hit many's the headline recently, basically because they are attractive and young women. I neglected to mention that I was featured in an Evening Herald piece yesterday on 'fresh-faced' and 'handsome' young male candidates - though, sadly, my picture and phone number were not attached.)

Enda arrived beyond promptly this morning - at 7.30 - and lasted until about 10 this evening.

Like the dozens of others who have worked their socks off for the campaign, Enda is doing so with political reasons in mind, but I do want to thank him personally for all the months of work he has put in. I once managed Enda's unfortunately unsuccessful campaign for President of UCD Students' Union, but his management and good humour are far more successful this time out, regardless of the outcome.

Those same ones amongst you with eagle eyes - or those of a hawk, like Bravestarr - will have spotted Enda in our last youtube video of the campaign. I freely admit that we had to use Enda for a 'canvass' shot as the technical side of things didn't work out on the real things, and we were under pressure for time.

Now to Cliché #1: Babies and Kids. I've been followed round the doors by kids who love shouting out my name. What can only be described as a gaggle of 20 or so of them followed me around Limekiln last night with a poster - I assume they'd ripped it down - and were looking for autographs, stickers and whatever else I had going.

These kids are a little more genuine in their support, or at least their mam and dad are. Colm, Kevin and Mark, my three Kerry nephews, are in Dublin for the graduation of their aunt and my 'baby' sister, Aisling - who from tomorrow will be Doctor Aisling Looney. Ash spent 6 years in UCD doing Medicine and the whole family are up to celebrate her graduation with first class honours tomorrow. Sadly, I won't make it out to my alma mater with the last-day campaigning but Aisling was out with us tonight as she'll be spending tomorrow celebrating. I'm very proud of her and she's a great example of why fees should remain off the agenda.

The support from my family has been amazing, from my 71 year old dad climbing up poles to erect posters, to my mam canvassing half of Tymon Park, my other sister Tara making sambos and my three brothers constantly encouraging and supporting from Cork, Kerry and Galway. They'll be delighted when it's all over and their home, car spaces and lives are back to normal!

Cliché # 2 is this fetching rosette which I wore for the first time today. We've tried to mix a bit of traditional electioneering with more cutting-edgework. It was lovely to get another mention on the front page of today, and I know the hits were excellent because of it.

We were again all over the constituency today, from the Luas leaflets in the morning, to more traditional leaflet dropping in the afternoon, and our biggest canvass of the campaign in Greenhills this evening. I was honoured to have 25 - political - brothers and sisters out with me on the doors tonight, covering a vast sweep of an area from Perrystown to Walkinstown and deep into Greenhills Estate. This picture doesn't even tell the full story - a few had headed home by the time the photo was taken at the end of the session.

They say not to do such a big canvass, and that it's right to split them up into smaller groups. But as you all know, I'm not one for those political clichés - we're going to build it even bigger tomorrow, and fight hard for every vote we can in the remaining 29 hours, and right through then til 10pm on Friday. Hope to be blogging while I'm at it. Adelante!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Election Diary: T -3: The Fullest Days

I got to bed at 3 last night, and was up just after 7. I thought blog readers might be interested in hearing about the schedule of the campaign as we hit the last few days.

8am: Canvassing Luas stops in Belgard and Kilnamanagh/Kingswood.

9.30am: Breakfast.

10am: Letter writing, folding, trips to the post office for envelopes, more writing, more folding, trips to the postbox, and back for more stamps.

1pm: Two out postering, four in licking envelopes.

3pm: Another canvass in the sun down in Perrystown.

5pm: A quick dinner above the Laurels.

6.30pm: 18 people on a mass canvass of Limekiln and Temple Manor.

8.45pm: A quick drink in the Traders with the campaign team.

10pm: Back at home to do paperwork and prepare for tomorrow.

In between all of these were the usual phone calls, emails, mass texts, campaign management issues and dealing with the count. I also got to check our new ads in the Southside People and the Echo which we have paid big bucks for thanks to our fundraising work. Mercifully, I'm off work for the week but having the support of my campaign team today was crucial in getting the work done.

Tomorrow and Thursday will be similar in terms of intensity, with some fresh campaign work and ideas coming to the fore. Our numbers have really been excellent but we need to push them to greater heights in the days to come. Thousands of doors still to be knocked on, and thousands of leaflets to be dropped - we can start to relax in 69 hours time or so when the polls close, and truly relax on Saturday evening when the outcome is known. All of us are looking forward to a rest at this stage, but hopefully it'll only be short-lived as we look towards an historical Council seat.

Election Diary: T- 4: The Underdog Bites Back

It's going to be tougher and tougher to blog in the last few days of this campaign, but so many of you have told me you are readers - honestly - that I do feel a compunction.

Today was most certainly a day that would give you energy. It was, perhaps, one of our best days of the campaign so far. There were more than 20 activists around at various stages - we're hoping to build that even further in the last 3 days of Campaign '09.

We started off this afternoon with a canvass in the Square Shopping Centre. There was a reasonable crowd considering the gorgeous weather, and the feeling was most definitely towards Labour and our ideas amongst the shoppers and staff we met.

We shared, for a time, the middle of the second floor with Christian evangelists, one of whom shouted "Vote for Jesus!" I thought I was being very clever indeed to call out asking for a second preference for Looney, only to read this evening a Miriam Lord colour piece in the Times with pretty much the same line being used. Great minds and all that.

I was, again, asked for an autograph, which sounds a lot more glamorous than it is when it's generally the under-10 demographic who are interested.

After ice cream we headed to Belgard and Kilnamanagh for some leafleting and a chat with a few local residents. Pat Rabbitte TD joined up with us in Kilnamanagh and seems to revel in the electioneering. We took on fluids - definitely not the traditional Bank Holiday ones - before heading back to base.

Katriona had ably (wo)manned the computer while we had been on the trail, and, surrounded by paper, ink cartridges and envelopes, she proclaimed success on some of the paperwork - as necessary, if not more so, than the exercise in the Square earlier.

We hit the canvass trail again this evening in Dublin 12 with, again, some first-time campaigners; how wonderful it is to be welcoming new members to our campaign even at this late stage. We received what one of our canvassers called a "phenomenal reception." He may have been a little over-zealous but certainly our message is being positively received - except for one nun who was fiercely angry at being disturbed - and recognition is very high.

Perhaps it would be even higher but it is sad that so many of our posters - perhaps a third of the total - have been ripped down by, in many circumstances, rival campaigns. There are some who think they can bully a campaign which is much younger, fresher and not as well-moneyed but we have fought back in the only way we know - putting a real alternative to the voters, and keeping our eye on the ball. That they feel the need to behave in this way is perhaps indicative of the threat they feel from our supposed underdog campaign. We'll see when voters hit the polls in a little over 78 hours time.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 5 - Zzzzzzzz

That's it.

I'm off to bed!

(More tomorrow!)

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 6 - Sunshine Campaigning

Apologies for missing a post yesterday. I decided on an "early night" so hit the hay around 1.30 am.

The sun has certainly brightened up the campaign trail and certainly seems to put people in a good mood; perhaps Fianna Fáil are wrong in hoping for rain on Friday.

People on the doors and others we talk to are now very focussed on the election; the numbers of 'don't knows' are on the decrease and there is a strong awareness. I met a few of the other candidates and campaigners at Tallaght Hospital today, where I was attending the "Hands Around the Hospital" demo with my colleagues Mick Duff and Cllr Eamonn Maloney.

One of the discussions was around turnout; my thoughts are that it'll be around the same as the high 2004 turnout, but some of the affecting factors such as weather and final campaign swings are yet to come. A high turnout is clearly beneficial to Labour and non-Government candidates; the core FF vote will be comparatively higher in a low turnout.

Hardly a soul, if you'll pardon the pun, at the Vigil Mass in Greenhills tonight as we did one of our final church gate canvasses; fewer people in at the doorsteps today too. It'll remain like this for the Bank Holiday weekend but the work for the campaigners never stops. There's no silver bullet at this stage but we certainly want to freshen things up in the last few days. Smiles all round today from those who we did meet and a great reception to the positive message and ideas of our campaign.

We'll have the result this time next week. Let's hope we're still smiling then.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 8: Adventures Online, Offline and In the Line

This blog is getting famouser and famouser.

(Yes, I am aware that the elders of the standard English are frowning somewhere. Wait 'til they hear about the kid in my class who brang a package of crips to the hopsital for his cousind!).

Thanks to the Irish Times Campaign Watch, who took up on my press release about our online campaign. The comments to follow are interesting, including this quote from blogger and freelance journalist Mark Coughlan;
The Looney Left hasn’t just been going for a while, it’s hilariously written and very insightful. Even as general blogs go, it’s good.
Very decent of you Mark, thanks!

It's been great to make the front page of again in the blogging round-up, and frequently post about this site in their daily campaign round-ups. They all ensure more hits to the site which we're obviously delighted with, so thanks to those concerned.

We've been popular offline too, so it seems. I posted a few days back about Fiona Looney's name continuing to crop up on the canvass; it came up again tonight in Belgard, but this time there was a real connection to me. A woman mentioned that my name had come up in the papers, and lo and behold it seems Fiona (who I know is a voter in the area) has taken a shine to me - or my posters at least. Here's the opening paragraph from her column in the Sunday Mail magazine
The Husband suggests that Councillor Michael Murphy is a spoilsport of sorts, because he is already wearing a beard and glasses in his election posters. I'm far more excited by the presence in our area of a candidate called Dermot Looney, who boasts a funky strip on the back of his posters with 'Vote 1 Looney' on it. The Boy says he'll 'acquire' one for me and I don't doubt him for a second.
The article is a general colour piece on election posters. I managed to find Fiona on twitter and let her know that she's welcome to a poster by legitimate means, so perhaps she'll take me up. The strip, by the way, appears on the back of all Labour posters.

Belgard Heights, incidentally, is known in political circles as being strongly FF but the reception we've gotten there tells us anything but. I taught briefly in the local primary school, Scoil Ard Mhuire, and was glad to meet some of the parents of the kids I'd worked with, including one man who solved the great mystery of our campaign to date. Some weeks ago, a mystery man stopped his van in traffic and walked over to a car of one of our supporters, who had a Vote Looney window sticker on her car. The mystery man told our supporter how he admired my speech on nationalising the banks at the Labour Party Conference and was assuredly giving me his Number 1. We hadn't a clue who it was until he came over and introduced himself tonight. A lovely moment.

The posters remain a source of great comedy to the kids in my current school, particularly those from other classes (my lot have their minds on higher things, like the upcoming tour to Clara Lara). I tend to meet them in their lines as they walk to class each morning or breaktime, hollering after me that their parents, relatives and even they, themselves, will be voting for me next week. Sadly their almost-universal habitation in the Tallaght South ward may get in their way.

Tomorrow is our last day together as the school is off next week, a pretty lucky break for me which'll allow me to campaign full-time over the last six days. But after the election it's straight back to work - with the infamous 'Dip Day' approaching on June 15th, just 9 days after the count. At this rate this usually-stressful time for NQT's (newly-qualified teachers) will be a relief for this candidate!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 9: Brian's Gone to Iceland


It's three am. Glad to say I've not been drinking, but did manage to make it into town tonight to see off Brian O'Connor, one of the most active and longstanding team members, who's heading off to Iceland (the country, not the supermarket) tomorrow. Brian's been an integral part of the campaign for over a year now and his departure, though heralded a long time ago, is still a loss. Of all the team members I'd say Brian has dropped more leaflets than anyone, not to mention his canvass record and postering abilities. I'm sure he'll have some interesting observations from Icelandic politics when he returns, and I've promised to keep him in the loop on count day, along with other supporters in Australia, Luxembourg, Britain, the US and Thailand.

Our canvass in Tallaght tonight went perfectly to plan - last knock was five minutes before the start of the CL final. Much of the rest of the day after work was spent doing up some last-minute literature and planning the campaign; our Campaign Manager Paul Dillon remains calm throughout the slip-ups and computer freezes, and has guided us over the last few months with the patience of a saint.

8 days left. Most of the candidates have upped their game in the past week. All going well for us, it should be a great final week, but then again events are always getting in the way of good plans!

PS - Forca Barca! Great game, Messi again proving his genius. My favourite player in the world. OK, work in 5 1/2 hours - oíche mhaith!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Press Release: Labour’s Looney Claims "Biggest and Best Online Campaign in Ireland"

Dermot Looney, a Labour Party candidate in the Tallaght Central ward in June’s local elections, has said that his online campaign is the 'biggest and best' out of several thousand local election candidates in Ireland. Looney has said that the Internet campaign has been a hugely successful way to engage young people and those traditionally left behind in politics.

Looney established an online presence more than a year ago and, as well as a traditional website at, he maintains a daily-updated election diary on his blog, "The Looney Left." His campaign group on Facebook has more than 400 members, the majority of whom live in Tallaght Central, and he is also active on Twitter, as well as campaigning on Bebo and Youtube and the photo site Flickr.

Looney, 26, is the youngest candidate running for South Dublin County Council and his spent little money on the online side of the campaign, instead relying on word of mouth, social networking and traditional leaflets to attract voters to the various online platforms.

"No other candidate in South Dublin has dedicated as much in terms of resources or effort to online campaigning, even though we come to the field without the big money of the major two parties," said Looney. "I believe our online campaign is the biggest, best and brightest of any local election candidate in Ireland, and recent innovations such as frequent use of Twitter and a daily election diary have been attracting voters from across the area to our campaign and our message of change and community."

"Online campaigning is most effective when it has the politics to go along with it. That's why those who don't tend to be reached by traditional canvassing - young people and those living in apartment blocks - are readily identifying with our campaign. Nothing will ever replace knocking on doors, dropping leaflets and other traditional methods, but online campaigning will continue to increase in influence in the years to come."

"Our experience online is that local people are hugely receptive to web campaigning, a point worth keeping in mind with the further rollout of e-government by the Council. Most importantly, we need to make sure such development brings with it those left behind by the information gap - particularly the elderly and those without the resources, skills or literacy to truly engage at present."


For more, see details below.


Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 10: Socialism and Marching In Amongst the Saints

I often check the Dublin South-West local elections thread on to see if it offers up any titbits from other candidates. It is, of course, erroneously titled in the case of Tallaght Central which covers parts of the Dublin South-Central Dáil constituency as well as DSW.

It's worth noting that the vast majority of posters on the site are members of political organisations and inherently biased in what and how they choose to post. But the discussion today centring around 'socialism' is interesting indeed. One poster pointed out that 4 candidates in the election - Mick Murphy (Socialist Party), Seán Crowe (Sinn Féin), Pat Dunne (PBPA) and myself use the term 'socialist' to describe their politics (perhaps there are more). Predictably, this was followed by the same old critique you come to expect from elsewhere on the left.

Let me make one thing clear - and I don't speak for anyone else bar myself - I am a socialist.

Socialism is the political tradition to which I belong, and the way forward for our community, country and world. It is a desciption I use on the doors when quizzed regardless of whether I think it will gain or lose me a vote. I put it in my literature, I use it in the media, and I do not shirk when attacked from left, right or elsewhere on this. Just as there are Christians in the Church, as Tony Benn often said, there are socialists in the Labour Party. The term and the traditions are not my possessions, or those of the Labour Party - nor are they the preserve of smaller parties or other groupings.

I'd love to post more on this but now is, perhaps, not the best time. It did come up again tonight on the canvass in Tallaght where I really feel the mood has shifted leftward amongst working people. The rhetoric and analysis being put forward by voters on everything from the banks and developers to the way to win on local issues certainly sits well with the agenda our campaign is pushing. I tweeted that Tallaght was turning redder - it certainly seems to be the case. Nothing I've seen changes my mind that three Labour seats are eminently possible in this ward.

Both myself and Labour are polling well on the St Pat's Fans Forum (where I go by the name 'Greenhills Saint'). I occasionally meet Saints fans on the canvass and a lot of them have joined up through our Facebook Group. I know we have blog readers coming over from the Saints site, and I know that many of them share my regard for Bill Shankly's old statement that "the socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards...that's how I see football, that's how I see life." Hopefully, we'll be keeping the football and politics separate tomorrow night by canvassing early to avoid the Champions League final.

Outside of work, it's been full-on campaigning for the last 5-6 weeks for me. At this stage, only occasional episodes of the US Office are keeping me sane. I really enjoy the electioneering and am honoured to be in the position I am, as made possible by so many around me - but I'm certainly looking forward to a long sleep and a lazy Sunday when it's all over!

Press Release: Labour’s Looney - "Sorry to Say I Told You So" on Derelict Site

Dermot Looney, a Labour Party candidate in the Tallaght Central ward in June’s local elections, has criticised Council and developer inaction for the continuing dereliction of the old McHugh's site in Greenhills, Dublin 12.

The old shopping centre on St James' Road was destroyed by fire in 2003 and the site has remained an eyesore for the local community ever since - despite the granting of planning permission on a number of occasions for new retail units and apartments. Looney has been organising the local community against the site for more than a year, and presented a petition to the Council and the developer demanding action signed by more than 500 local residents.

On foot of the petition the Council had requested that a wall be built by the developer as part of a clean up of the site, but, instead, a wooden fence was erected at a cheaper cost. Looney slammed this at the time saying such a public hoarding would provide a blank canvass for grafitti and vandalism - an issue which has now arisen with speed over the past fortnight.

"The hoarding remained relatively graffiti-free for the first few weeks," Looney said, "and any graffiti was daubed over. Sadly, our predictions have come true with various incidents of 'tagging' and other vandalism at the site in the last two weeks."

"Graffiti is a significant local issue in Greenhills as elsewhere and needs to be tackled by a community-centred approach incorporating the Council, the schools, the Gardaí and other community groups. But what is most pressing in Greenhills is the need to appropriately develop the old McHugh's site. Local people, many of whom are elderly, demand a shop, a post office and a pharmacy on a clean and well-presented site - and the developer concerned has proven that he is either incapable of, or unwilling to take, action. My priority will be to ensure these are delivered through the Council in the interests of the community."

Election Diary: T- 11: One Down, Thousands to Go

Yesterday's cliché about wearing out my shoes on the canvass is now available in pictorial form - just to prove it!

First things first - it has been pointed out to me that the numbering system on these election diaries is confusing, and I can see why. "T-11" would indicate eleven days left, but when writing after midnight (as I do most nights) I should really take off another day.

In other words, the polls open in a little over 10 days time - the "11" refers to the day just gone, for those not in the loop. And yes, I too am baffled. But it would be even more confusing to change it at this stage.

The Echo
have put online the feature with candidate profiles they had in their print edition some weeks back. The wards are a bit mixed up but many of the candidates give an account of themselves.

We paid a quick visit to St Kevin's Well, a historical site in Kilnamanagh, at the end of this evening's canvass. Here's a small group of us outside at the end of a strong night's work, with Chris "Bond Lad" Bond in one of his customary poses.

And to round up the pics we also took a visit to the McHugh's site - you'll find more elsewhere on the blog - to check out the sadly-predicted vandalism which is increasing by the day.

The boost of the day - and one of the biggest personal thrills for me in the short campaign to date - came this evening in Kilnamanagh. I was engaged in a long and at times heated canvass with a resident as our campaign manager Paul Dillon knocked next door. Paul beckoned me in as I finished the canvass to speak to his neighbour.

The man I met told me, with great pride (both for me and him) that he had voted earlier this morning through the postal vote and had given me his number one. Knowing there is at least one number 1 beside Looney, Dermot (The Labour Party) in the system somewhere is, for some reason, both comforting and uplifting. We're looking for a couple thousand more to be elected, mind you.

PS - Belated Happy Birthday to one of our most sterling campaigners, Colm Lawless, who turned the ripe old age of 17 on Sunday. Colm has been an integral part of our campaign over the last year and mixes an extraordinary political mind for someone so young with a keen sense of politics as action. He can't vote himself - despite our efforts with the Votes@16 campaign - but is gaining so much for us with his work. Lá breithe shona duit a chara - le déanaí.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 12: A Day of Clichés

I seem to be getting more and more tired at the times of posting on these election diary blogs. It's a pity because I see more and more incidents and happenings over the course of the daily campaign that I intend to blog, but have forgotten by the time 1am arrives. Those examples I can remember are detailed below.

First off, the most clichéd event in politics happened me first thing this morning. I went to put on my shoes (bought less than 6 weeks ago) only to find out that they had been worn out. The right heel to be precise. If that doesn't prove hard work I don't know what does. The cobbler in the Ashleaf was closed so I'll have to try get it done elsewhere tomorrow.

Another common event you hear about in politics is the church gate canvass. Today wasn't the first day we hit the church gates but it certainly was the most stereotypical. I have heard tales of "running the gauntlet" back when canvassers harrassed for votes right up to the polling booths, though they were before my time. This morning was a harking back to those days, or my own experiences in UCD politics where dozens of eager canvassers literally frogmarched voters into the booths with dozens of others shouting out for their own candidates. The gates of the Holy Spirit Church in Greenhills were well-marshalled; as well as myself and our team, Mick Murphy and his Socialist Party colleagues, as well as both FF camps (though neither FF candidates) and a two large posters from Pat Dunne made an appearance.

Fine Gael's Cllr Colm Brophy was accompanied by former candidate for the presidency, Mary Banotti. I am sorry to say that although I have had a keen interest in politics since I was very young, and hold a politics degree, and have about a decade's experience in the political field, I still didn't recognise her - at first. Thankfully, neither did she recognise me. Staring at my poster, as held by one of our canvassers, she remarked on the blueness of the eyes at some length. I was literally standing in front of her but the penny didn't drop. My hair is much longer than it is in the poster so I suppose, for recognition's sake, I'll have to combine my trip to the cobbler with one to the barber. Still though, the Blueshirt who admired the blue could be worse.

The reception at the church gate was excellent, as, in fairness, it would need to be for my own local area. We spent the afternoon and evening doing various political tasks including the sorting of leaflets, some register use and paperwork, and a planning meeting. Sunday is not a great time for canvassing door-to-door so we've got a chance to catch up on some other elements of the campaign.

I was particularly delighted to welcome my old friend and supporter Conor Fitz to the campaign this weekend. Despite moving to Galway he has been a huge support in every sense of the word and it was great to have him chatting to the voters and helping out with the other elements of the campaign. Conor is a fair man in more ways than one so he didn't react too well today to the gorgeous sunshine; he's gone back to Galway tonight with a face as red as the badge he wore. Hopefully the after-sun will heal him enough in time for the trip back on polling day, which begins in just 11 days time.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 13: Time Only for Politics

Tony Benn, who I don't mind admitting is a huge source of political inspiration to me, called one of his diary collections "More Time For Politics" which refers to a quote he made on retiring from the House of Commons. Benn himself remains a political dynamo at 84 years of age. I'm starting to believe, though, that there comes a time when there is no more time for politics - when you fill up your days and nights with its practice. And the last few days of a campaign, rightly so, mean time only for politics.

I did manage to get a game of football in this morning, a very rare thing in the last few months of this campaign, and escaped without doing too much damage to my dodgy ankle. I've been avoiding the physio since I hurt it in January in the hope that it'd get better; one of the first things I'll do post-election is get some treatment on it. The football took away some of the stress of the campaign and gave a good start to a day of canvassing in Tallaght.

Met some of the Fianna Fáil team at Kilnamanagh shopping centre at lunchtime; Charlie O'Connor was his usual ebullient self but the heads seemed down. We had two more new campaign team members out today, the numbers are really picking up for us but we need more for the final push in the coming few days. The weather wasn't the worst either, despite a downpour between 12.30 and 1; though I'm not sure we'll have a day when the umbrellas aren't needed anytime soon?

Today's canvass had to stop at 5 pm on the dot so as not to interrupt the rugby. We ended up listening to it on the radio at home because, scandalously, Sky maintain all the rights to the Heineken Cup in Ireland. While I was delighted to see (or hear) an Irish team do so well, it was hardly euphoric. Leinster rugby remains, sadly, class-based and I have never felt a part of the 'scene' despite having a genuine interest in the sport. However, the IRFU are doing some fine work in Tallaght and I hope the Leinster teams of the future might include some of the kids learning tag and tip rugby in our schools and at Tallaght Rugby Club right now.

And it was straight from there to a 'gig' at Templeogue United Football Club to honour 20 years of Dáil service by Pat Rabbitte TD. It also coupled as a celebration of Pat's 60th birthday which was last Monday- and for which he spent the evening on the canvass with us. The speeches from Eamon Gilmore TD, Mayor Marie Corr, local activists Gerry Kelly and Denis Mackin, Pat's wife Derry and Pat himself were full of humour and warmth and Pat himself was in flying form. It was nice to chat to others in the constituency about how their own campaigns are going and a real belief that we can pull off three seats in Tallaght Central.

To do that with three first-time candidates would be incredible but these are incredible times; the notion of a Labour Taoiseach and the party leading a government is coming up more and more, and people are realising that the movement to achieve that will need to be built and supported from the ground up.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 14:

Apologies for missing a day. The excellent said my blogging was prolific, which sounds like Gray Lineker for some reason. Sadly, I missed out last night so feel the need to post tonight despite tiredness.

Thanks to the many of you - and I'm surprised how many - who've sent me mails and messages about the blog. Brevity is not my strong point, but necessitates tonight. Just home after a chat with canvassers and supporters over pints in the Cherry Tree. Drinking and politics should never mix but a couple on a Friday night after a canvass is not the worst idea.

I've met some amazing people on the canvass over the past few weeks and months - none moreso than the young Kenyan man I met yesterday. His articulation of Irish politics - drawing parallels with the corruption in Kenyan politics - and his knowledge of a political culture he moved into just 2 years ago was breathtaking.

His support for our politics and ideas were a huge boost.

Almost as much, in fact, was Pat's huge win tonight against Dundalk in Oriel Park. Ex-Pat's player Dave Rogers was aent off because he mooned the Pat's fans. Some people never learn - in politics and in football.

Pat's recovery aside, I was hugely encouraged by the reception tonight in Dublin 6w. Some very interesting discussions on the doorsteps ranged from Enda Kenny to Labour's position on the public sector and the Ryan Report on Industrial Schools. The area we canvassed tonight would be considered middle class but the anger was fierce from many. The important point, I stressed to many, is to turn that anger into action, not only at the polls on June 5th, but in politics in general.The universality of the anti-FF response is truly encouraging; from working class to middle class, young to old, public to private, across the board. Our challenge is to build that alternative, and the response has been very positive indeed.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 16: Canvassing and the Commission

Sorry to mention the weather again, but tonight was the first night in a week that it didn't rain on the canvass, and while it was still wet we were thankful of the break.

We're hoping for dry and calm conditions on Friday fortnight to ensure a maximum turnout. Every politician claims to hope for a large turnout but our need for it is pretty clear; the more who show, the more anger is vented against the Government. A low turnout would be beneficial only to Fianna Fáil, whose diehards would retain a higher proportional impact.

Again, tonight, there was a noticeable shift to Labour from those who formerly supported Fianna Fáil - particularly middle-aged and older people. The sheer numbers of those deserting FF is heartening but I sincerely hope their trust in Labour is repaid. Those of us on the left who are such critics of FF politics sometimes forget how many of those who vote FF or FG we will need to convince, along with new voters, in order for us to really 'win' elections.

I was deeply moved by media coverage of the Report of the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse today (good coverage of it in the Irish Times here). Vincent Browne's show tonight was awesome, powerful, tearful TV. I watched it, post canvass, with two other yappers and none of us muttered so much as a word. I did some research and study into abuse in residential institutions and industrial schools in college and remember the physical sickness I felt reading the "Suffer the Little Children" book by Mary Raftery and Eoin O'Sullivan.

The 165,000 victims of this despicable regime - many of whom are now dead, some at their own hands after experiencing such neglect, abuse and trauma; others of whom have left Ireland forever - are those most let down by this country at the nexus of crucial institutions; Church, Government, education, healthcare, the judiciary and others. Politics too let those children down; no more can deference to people in or ideas of power dominate while children suffer. The conduct of the Christian Brothers' during the report - and similar ones - has been disgusting, with non-cooperation at their core of their attitude to the present day. It is disgraceful that over 100 national schools remain in their stead with practically no influence by the State in terms of safety or care.

I look forward to the day when schools are run, like all public services should be, by the people and for the people. The current model, still based on a 19th century idea of non-interventionism by the State and the deference to the two main churches, is just not sustainable and helps neither the children nor the churches themselves. And local government, as far as I am concerned, should be empowered to provide leadership and planning for educational needs in Ireland, as it is elsewhere.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 17: Fiona's Singing Cousin

I said last night I'd be quick, and wrote hundreds of words. Tonight I'll be more than quick - tiredness beats verbosity every time.

It's a happy tiredness. Canvass tonight went really well. Met a lot of Labour supporters and a few old family friends on the doors. Only once did the usual bizarre question arise - "Are you anything to Fiona?" Frankly, if Fiona Looney ran in Tallaght Central, she'd be a shoo-in. Everyone knows her! My promise to start pretending I'm her cousin has not yet been taken on.

Glad to be hitting the front page of too. It brings new readers to the blog, and my fame for the Red Flag (alternate version here) seems to be spreading. I successfully proposed a motion two years ago at the Labour Party conference to adopt Jim Connell's song as the anthem of the party, and I've sang it at the end of the last two conferences. My brother in Kerry was canvassed by a Labour Cllr tonight who wasn't sure of me until the party anthem was mentioned. "Fair play to him for bringing it back" was the response, though views are mixed - Cllr Aodhán Ó Riordán blogged that the singing is "embarrassing" (sadly Aodhán's blog doesn't allow comments, so I can't defend myself there!)

Got the ballot sheet layout today. It's a tiny point, but I disagree with alphabetical order in PRSTV elections when so many studies have shown that those near the top of the ballot do well. Surely a random draw would be fairer? Only Simpsons reference "Aaron A Aaronson" could be unhappy with that!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 18: WORKing on a Dream

Very quick post tonight as the bed awaits.

The first phone call of the day came at 8.30 a.m. and the last an hour or so ago. Any serious candidate at this stage is pretty much electioneering as a full-time job; though, as I blogged yesterday, I do have one of those too!

Nominations closed on Saturday and candidates had until today to withdraw - so, this evening, the full list of runners and riders went up on the South Dublin County Council website. No surprises for Tallaght Central - 13 candidates for six seats; 3 Labour, 2 FF and FG, one each from the Greens, the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance and Sinn Féin and two independents. We must be one of the few LEA's in the country in which Labour is running more candidates than anyone else; an indication of the ambition we candidates and our party share for three seats and a serious vote to build Labour's alternative.

Canvassed tonight with one of our biggest groups yet in the driving rain in the Osprey and Willington areas. Those of you from the area will know local residents and politicians alike sometimes refer to this area as "WORK" - standing for Willington, Osprey, Rushbrook and Kennington. Just like the PD's launching a manifesto some years back in Prosperous, Co Kildare, it might make a good location for Eamon Gilmore to push our jobs policy in the time ahead.

Pat Rabbitte TD - celebrating his 60th birthday - joined us once more along with Cllr Eamonn Walsh and the support for Labour on the doors was very strong indeed. Thankfully, we brought enough brollies to save our canavssers and their paperwork - the weather has been awful but at this stage of a campaign you've gotta press on regardless.

That said, my attempts to sing Rihanna's Umbrella (the Manic Street Preachers version I hasten to add) on the way home were cut short by those around me. I suppose bringing the guitar out on the canvass tomorrow is probably pushing it too far...

Plenty of interesting stories on the doors too. Local issues such as the infamous Burmah Garage site, the Orwell roundabout and worries about Tymon Park came up frequently, as they have done since I began campaigning in the "WORK" area many months ago - but national issues, and jobs in particular, remain to the fore.

I was most heartened by one middle-aged man who paid a lengthy tribute to our campaign for bringing so many principled young people to the doors.

Tonight's team included canvassers in their teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties - our seventysomethings were otherwise engaged - but overall, our youthful campaign has been noted across the ward. I've blogged before that engaging so many young people in our campaign is my proudest achievement to date; I want to give them something to be proud of come count day.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 19: Canvass and Class; Gaeilge and Gas; Saints and Libert-ass!

Apologies for missing out on a couple of days of posting. The campaign tends to have other priorities that can take their toll on the blogging, but I hope to make it a clean run to the count.

Our third last weekend on the campaign trail and the work gets more intense as we move closer to June 5th.

I missed out on the launch of the Labour for South Dublin CoCo campaign in Tallaght on Friday, though you can see the pics from here on. If the old saying that pictures speak a thousand words rings true, I was at least spoken for!

The reason for missing the press conference was simple - work! As a schoolteacher in Scoil Maelruain Sinsear in Old Bawn I think it's important for my political campaign remains separate from my professional work, although that certainly requires a lot of effort to avoid conflicts of interest. And that includes blogging - it's somewhat easier to blog for 32 ten year-olds than a gaggle of politically hungry adults!

The staff at my school have been very supportive and the kids haven't missed the posters on the nearby roads. The younger ones think it's for the "Teacher of the Year" competition and are at their own teachers to get their own posters up; the older ones have promised me that all their mams and dads will vote for me - I've not got the heart to tell them that they're just yards across the border in Tallaght South and won't have the chance one way or the other!

One of our campaign team in Templeogue had a visit from Cllr Colm Brophy of Fine Gael over the weekend (his site at has not been activated all campaign). Failing to spot the "Dermot Looney" poster in the window, Colm engaged our colleague in a discussion on health service reform, before our team member brought up the proposed privatisation of Bord Gáis. Colm came out with the standard response and promoted George Lee's candidature, an interesting technique several miles from the Dublin South border. The highlight of the discussion was when our man, a Gaeilgeoir and Irish language enthusiast, raised the issue of Fine Gael's dropping of compulsory Irish from the Leaving Cert curriculum. Cllr Brophy's response was that Fine Gael were in touch with the needs of people in rural Ireland. Our man, born and bred Dubliner, was none too pleased. Ó, mo léan!

Our own canvass is going really well and we are covering the ground faster than I had hoped due to the strong numbers we are getting out. We always need more though, so drop me a mail to get involved in what must be the youngest and most vibrant local election campaign team in Ireland!

There is certainly huge support for my campaign and the Labour Party - and Eamon Gilmore's leadership and popularity comes up frequently. But running counter to the positive aspects, there's the horrific stories of lives and families ruined by the Government and their policies. I've seen unbridled anger, tears and utter cynicism in the faces of those who've been hit hardest by the recession; I've listened to tales of jobs lost, incomes destroyed, bonuses stolen amd beckoning emigration from people who did nothing to cause this mess and who are baffled by bank bailouts and government arrogance in the face of their hardship.

It is very common to have people admitting - often shamefully - that they voted Fianna Fáil all their lives but will not do so again. Our challenge is to convince them that Labour is the real alternative - how well we are doing will be found out on June 6th.

The Euro elections are coming up more and more as people decide on their vote. Proinsias de Rossa MEP, who was out with us a few weeks back, is Labour's candidate in a Dublin constituency which is losing a seat. Last week's poll showed him doing well, but he'll be fighting to top the poll and ensure Labour keep a seat in Dublin. Libertas' campaign is particularly nasty and it will be pleasing indeed to see Caroline Simons, who is running a creatively-funded six-figure campaign on the reactionary right, bomb at the polls.

The Lisbon Treaty has only come up a few times and I've been honest on the doors; the Labour Party supports it, but, as part of a tradition of dissent in the Labour Party which has dated back to 1973 and beyond, I voted against. I've had respect from both sides for my honesty on the issue, which I've also replicated in other 'potential banana-skin' issues, from the serious, such as access to abortion, to the not-so, such as my views on Jeff Kenna's management at St Pat's.

I only made the second half of the Sligo game in Richmond Park on Friday night after our canvass, only to see Pat's throw away first a 1-0 lead, and then a 2-1 lead. I thought that missing so many Pat's games would be a negative point in the campaign, but given our record this season, I'm not as upset as I might have been! Hopefully, come the Shamrock Rovers home game on July 3rd, they'll be able to change the name on my season ticket to "Cllr Dermot Looney?!"