IF the people who operate the private car park attached to the Market Cross shopping centre in the centre of the city think they are going to get a new access on to Blackmill Street they had better be prepared for a fight. That was the message from Maureen McCormack who is a life-long resident of the street and something of a matriarchal figure there. She addresses Cllr Betty Manning as she speaks, and why wouldn’t she, they were school mates while Deputy Phil Hogan listens on and takes a note of what she is saying. Big Phil is on the street for a canvas on Monday afternoon with Cllr Betty Manning and Maura Kenealy.
Maureen was referring a little piece in the Kilkenny People on a planning application by the Quiinn Family Partnership. Betty promises to look into the matter and said that if she does not Maureen will be up in City Hall herself looking into the matter.
Maureen is impressed with Big Phil and tells him so and he promises to do the best he can if returned to Dail Eireann by the people of Carlow-Kilkenny. Across the road, another resident Mick, who admitted to being g a life-long Fianna Fail supporter promises the number one and he meant it.
He said that the country could do with one party government and Phil agrees and said that voting Fine Gael was the only chance he had of achieving that.
As he goes house to house Big Phil asks each householder what issues they have and how can he help. When one woman said that everything was wrong he asked her to start with the most serious think and they spent 10 minutes discussing things before she was satisfied with his answers.
He asked the same question at a number of front doors: “You are hardly going to reward this Government for the mess they are after making of the country,” he said. The reply was nearly always the same (agreeing with him) except for one old lady cleaning her brass knocker and letter box who said the other crowd (FF-Greens) weren’t to bad went it came to looking after the old people. He agreed but asked if it was right that all the young people, on which the country’s future depends, were being forced to emigrate. She thought for a moment and agreed and said she would give Big Phil a vote but it probably won’t be a number one.
Cars stop as Phil walks down the street to shake his hand and tell him he is doing a great job marking the Greens and flanked by Cllr manning on one side and Maura Kenealy, they cut a dash as they go from house to house.
Betty and Maura know everyone by their first name and engage with them on a range of issues and have them lined up for Big Phil who is introduced as a Government minister in the next government. They all react very positively and say they will certainly vote for him, especially after it is pointed out by Maura Kenealy that the city or county has not had a senior minister since Jim Gibbons (RIP) in the early 1970s. “It’s about time we had one again and wouldn’t Phil do the best he could for us,” the woman of the house says before planting a big kiss on Phil’s cheek which seemed to shake the 6’ 4’’ giant as he wasn’t expecting it. The laughter starts and although times are tough everyone sees the funny side of the situation.
There is negative reaction if you could call it that at one house. A man inside the window gestures with his hands that he doesn’t want anyone calling and they steer clear of it. He wasn’t argue more down and out about things.
The area has seen a good few people moving out and not replaced, on the street and on James’s Green and that is something that Cllr Betty Manning will raise at Borough Council level.
The last port of call is Cleere’s Black Cat pub where Eleanor Cleere is working and had said previously that she had not seen a politician for the last number of elections. Lost for words, she shakes hands with Big Phil but won’t stand in for a photo with him not even if he promises to come in for a pint. Wonder will she give him the number one?