LABOUR have launched an election i-phone app, they have an army of twitter accounts and facebook pages but out canvassing in Castlecomer it is the little things that matter, like ensuring that you close the gate when you leave someone’s drive.
Councillor Ann Phelan, one of two Labour candidates standing for election in Carlow Kilkenny, was leading up a team of six Labour volunteers as they appealed on the doorstep for people to endorse a change in national politics. Cllr Phelan doesn’t promise an immediate cure to all of voters’ problems but instead opted to tell voters that things might get harder before they get any better.
At the parish bingo hall Cllr Phelan met 92-year-old Bridie McClean who was busy doing the accounts for the local bingo in a ledger by hand. On a cork notice board behind her was a picture of Castlecomer Labour Councillor Maurice Shorthall and Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness, Bridie’s two favourite politicians. In her 92 years Bridie said she had never seen anything as bad as the current economic crisis. “Hopefully I’ll make the board as one of your favourite politicians soon,” said Cllr Phelan.
The fact that Labour were not part of the last government and that Ms Phelan is a first time candidate is a bonus on the door step. Her and her party volunteers are safe from most of the vitriol that is being directed at some of the other parties. In the fruit and vegetable shop an angry voter told Ms Phelan that he’ll be voting against the banks as his wife peeled onions at the counter. As a Labour candidate Ms Phelan was in a position to calmly state that Labour were the only party to vote against the bank guarantee.
Although, Labour can claim the moral high ground, politics has been damaged by the economic downturn. In a cottage on the Kilkenny road in Castlecomer an 87 year old lady was celebrating her birthday. In front of a table set with serviettes and crystal for two visiting nuns back from Australia, she told Mrs Phelan that she didn’t think politics was a noble profession anymore. She said “I voted for the Green party the last time, but never again.” Cllr Phelan said that she’d do her best to repair politics by trying to help as many people as possible.
Castlecomer, from the small shop keeper through to the local doctor seems ready to embrace Ann Phelan. Dr Thomas Lynch shouted from a passing car, “My wife and I will give you number one.”
Even Labours prospective coalition partners seemed impressed. One Fine Gael canvasser came to the door and said “Once I’ve my duty done, I’ll look after you.”