There was some serious to-ing and fro-ing before the leader’s visit could officially go ahead – the ‘t’s had to be crossed and the ‘i’s dotted.
But by Friday lunchtime it was all happy families, with no fewer than 12 suitedFianna Fail party politicians on walkabout together through the streets of Kilkenny. Locals and tourists regarded them with a mixture of enthusiasm and bemusement.
Some of these were the men – grown, adult men, who just weeks ago would not be in the same room or pose for a photo together. Others had left their party running mates off their own literature.
But back under the ‘Fianna Fold’ of party leader Micheal Martin, who made his visit to Kilkenny last Friday, things were pretty okay, as they met various business owners and locals with a point to make.
In the Newpark Hotel that morning, Mr Martin had admitted the selection conventions could have been handled better. But he backed all of his Fianna Fail candidates in Kilkenny, from the newcomers like Chap Cleere and Paddy McKee, to the old-timer veterans like Pat Millea.
Local TD John McGuinness was out too, to shake hands and endorse Fianna Fail candidates in the north, south, east and west of the county. Previously, I had asked Mr Martin about his relationship with John, which he said was a very warm one. On the rumours of a leadership bid, Mr Martin told me there was no issue there at all.
“I appointed John as nominee to chairman of the Public Accounts Committee,” he said.
“I think he has been very independent and effective in that role. John is quite an independent voice within politics generally, and has carved out a niche for himself. I think he represents people honestly.”