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?!"

Friday, 15 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 21: To the Manor Born

It's a pity a group of Fianna Fáilers connected to a particular candidate have decided to have a pop or two anonymously on the blog as well as on youtube. I'm not sure if it's the same guys who regularly check my website from FF Head Office - hi there!

The candidate and his team should come clean and have a real debate; so I've enabled registered users for comments to allow that.

3 weeks out and our campaign is building and growing with a great reception tonight in Manor Estate. Manor Estate is a part of Dublin 12 which includes a number of roads beginning with Limekiln, Mountdown and Fernhill as well as part of Greentrees Road. The first time I remember being there was on the old "Tour de Sherrys" bike race we used to have as kids. The race left St Columba's Road and weaved its way through Greenhills estate and into Fernhill before passing Sherry's shop on Mountdown Road. The shop is no more but the people around are more interested in getting FF on their bike. A long set up, but worth it!

Our challenge is to turn anger into action and, ultimately votes. Word is that Fine Gael are making gains in tomorrow's Irish Times poll while we're back to 20%. Showing people that FG only offer a slash-and-burn alternative is part of our campaign too - hence the slogan "The Real Alternative."

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Protect Child Benefit

Just wanted to draw your attention to the "Protect Child Benefit" website at

I have been speaking with members of this group for some weeks and they have my full support, and that of the Labour Party, in opposing the withdrawal of child benefit.

You might also consider signing their online petition here.

Election Diary: T- 22: Dereliction of Duty, Tales of Posters and a Busy Day!

Very quick diary tonight as I'm pretty wrecked!

Great canvass in Greenhills tonight, despite the heavy rain. Pat O'Connell, a stalwart of more than 50 years in the Labour Party, turned up with only a suit but hard man though he is, I had to lend him my raincoat!

The amount of older people on the doors in our area who've voted FF all their lives but are now turning to Labour is astonishing.

Some of those I spoke to were part of the first group to settle in Greenhills in 1959 - literally a half century ago. And they're disappointed not only with a Government who have wasted a society, but with a local area becoming more and more derelict. The mix of the local and the national is very common and many people are articulating it in terms of political culture. I had a quick scan over Michael D Higgins' sociology texts on gombeenism recently and a lot of what people say to me regarding the failure of politics and politicians boils down to that analysis.

Managed to get up to West Tallaght to sort out a couple of posters incorrectly placed in Tallaght South where Labour's candidates Mayor Marie Corr and Cllr Eamonn Maloney are contesting. The boundary at Rossfield seemed to have confused some of my poster team, who in fairness have done amazing work in often dangerous and miserable conditions.

Some of the low hanging ones have been vandalised. One includes with an incorrectly-drawn swastika; I caught a youngfella with a marker nearby today and did my best teacher impression, which comes reasonably natural! On a more positive note, a big blue scrawl proclaiming "I Want You" can be seen on a poster in Greenpark; nice to be noticed I suppose!

Made it, too, to the Scouts Table Quiz in the Traders to say hello to a lot of the great stalwarts of community activism in our area. All capped off with the greatest toasted soda bread I've ever tasted - with real butter - and a cupán tae at the Kelly home on St Peter's Crescent. Not bad for a night's work :)

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 23: Damien's Debate

Attended the AGM of the Cherryfield Residents' Association in St Damien's School tonight.

Also there were my election rivals Cllr Seán Crowe (SF) and Pat Dunne (PBPA) along with latecomers Cllr Colm Brophy (FG), Cllr Joe Neville (FF) and FF's new candidate Eamonn Walsh.

I spent most of my early teenage years hanging around Cherryfield, kicking ball and being scared by girls! And I had an all-too-brief involvement with Cherryfield Utd FC a couple of years ago as a player-coach; I was delighted to meet some of the Cherryfield side on Saturday night, although their spirits were low after a 92nd minute defeat in a cup final.

Tonight, I felt that I was warmly received by local residents - many of whom I had spoken to on recent canvasses. Many of the issues raised - graffiti, underage drinking and youth facilities - sparked a good political debate which essentially broke on right-left lines. Colm Brophy's lengthy contributions basically boiled down to a "lock 'em up and throw away the key" attitude to young graffiti-ists. He dismissed the views of the two left candidates on encouraging art and graphic design in these kids and teens and talked macho about the full rigours of the law, and the usual guff one would expect from Ireland's answer to the Tory Party.

On the campaign trail we've taken to calling the new (Fianna Fáil) Eamonn Walsh "Eamonn Welsh" to distinguish him from our own outgoing Councillor of the same name. However his name is pronounced, the new FF candidate seems to have riled up plenty of residents in his own estate of Cherryfield, and I sensed real tension in the air - particularly when he tried to interrupt me on the one occasion I spoke.

To be honest, the politicians spoke too much and the community too little. This was the first AGM of the Association - who do fantastic work in the area, particularly with young people - in 2 years, but it ended up as a political football. I made clear that I was there to listen as well as briefly putting my involvement and experiences in the area out, along with some proposed solutions to the problems raised. But the anger felt by local residents towards establishment politics - on local as well as national issues - should mean for an interesting result in Cherryfield come June 5th.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Election Diary: T- 24: First On the Ballot

Huge apologies for the lack of posts of late. I've decided to regularise my blogs by posting a 24 Day Countdown - no Jack Bauer here, just 24 days of candidate blogging.

At 10am on Saturday morning I was delighted to meet with the Returning Officer and staff of South Dublin County Council to lodge my nomination papers. I have been officially nominated by Councillor Eamonn Walsh, who has been Labour's voice in our community for more than a quarter of a century - and a Councillor for 18 years. Eamonn, as you may know, is stepping down from the Council this June and is fully behind my campaign for election. It's a huge and genuine honour to have his nomination for election and I hope to do him proud in the fight ahead.

I was accompanied by Eamonn and my Campaign Manager, Paul Dillon and as well as meeting the friendly and welcoming staff, we also bumped into a number of candidates and agents including our old UCD colleague, Paul Murphy, who is working behind the scenes for Cllr Mick Murphy of the Socialist Party.

I met, for the first time, Arthur Doohan - the Green candidate in Tallaght Central - and Baby Pereppadam, an Independent candidate in Tallaght South, who had a huge entourage with him to register his papers.

Getting on the ballot was by no means easy, given the tough selection process for any significant political party, particularly for such a young candidate. But now that we're on it, we're pushing hard to have as many "1's" beside my name as possible.

For what it's worth, here's the pic that'll appear on the ballot.

Monday, 4 May 2009

A Sneak Peak

For those interested, here's a sneak peak at our election posters - which are up on the poles of Tallaght Central this week! It's a tough job to put them all up - so please let me know if you're free to help!