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?!"