HE is by far, the most colourful person going forward in the general election. The three times married artist, Ramie Leahy from Kilkenny city and living now in Dysart, Thomastown is a larger than life character who has managed to fit more living into one life than any 10 ordinary people have done. Kilkenny born and bred, he has entered the campaign at a late stage but still feels he has a chance of being elected if people would only stop listening to the rubbish being bandied about by the main political parties and see beyond the hype. “We need new, independent thinking to change things around for the better not the same old clap-trap,” he said.
He stands on High Street with his leaflets in hand waiting for people to walk by. He introduces himself and asks if they have a minute to chat. At first, they are a little hesitant and ask what he is collecting for. But once he engages them, the argument he puts forward really does hit home with them and they all end up agreeing with him but whether the approval on the ground reflects itself in a vote is another matter. “We cannot and should not pay the banks debts, it’s ridiculous and fundamentally flawed,” he said.
As he canvassed, a woman in her late 60s stopped and took his manifesto from him. She was angry and said the Government had made her life a misery by cutting her pension. She explained that her deceased husband had worked hard for over 40 years in a State company and that she was now left with a pittance to survive on. Ramie was on her side and when asked how she would vote in the upcoming general election, she told Ramie, in a whisper, that she would vote number one for John McGuinness for personal reasons. When he explained that Deputy McGuinness was Fianna Fail and had voted in favour of all the cuts, including the pension ones, she said she knew that but added that the beauty of voting for Deputy McGuinness was that she could call up to his office on O’Loughlin Road and get things sorted out. Ramie shook his head gave her a smile and thanked for stopping to chat and asked her to give him some sort of a preference on the ballot paper. She promised to read his literature but he knew it was a lost cause.
The next person to stop was a student nurse who asked Ramie what would he do about student nurses not being paid for working on their forth year. “It’s ridiculous and something I would change if elected,” he said.
A female banker was next and asked Ramie if he knew who the bond holders were. Ramie asked if it was the Germans, she said it was and she agreed with him that they should feel some of the pain from the recession that has hit Ireland. She promised to give him a vote.
The next woman who passed said she was too busy to stop but when she recognised the artist, stopped to chat, smiling at him the whole time he spoke to her. The more they chatted, the more she was convinced by his policies and by the time she left, had promised to give him her number one. At that rate of going, Ramie would top the poll. Problem is, he hasn’t time to engage with every single constituent before the election on Friday, February 25.
Bursting with energy, he does a quick call to a number of shops on High Street and everyone inside knows his name and promise to “look after him” in some shape or form. He knows that he is fighting an uphill battle but is hoping that people will see through the propaganda being spread by the main parties and vote with their heads for real change.
He is not putting up any posters and is not going on door-to-door canvasses because of time constraints and for other reasons. He has somebody doing a Facebook page for him so those who are interested can keep up with him and in the next three weeks he plans to visit every major town and village in the constituency to sell his manifesto.