HAVING lost out on a seat by a mere 200 votes in the last general election Senator John Paul Phelan is all too aware that every vote counts and is ensuring that he secures as many first preference choices as possible.
Last Wednesday night I joined Senator Phelan and his supporters as they canvassed on his home turf of Rosbercon and Tullogher. His canvassers gathered at Paddy Ryans pub in Listerlin where tea, sandwiches and biscuits were doled out in abundance as the area in question was meticulously divided between the twenty or so canvassers. The division was smoothly executed and people from specific areas were given their neighbours homes to call to and notebooks were distributed to note down details of anyone who had any issues that needed to be addressed. Canvassers were also asked to make a note of houses where no one was home so that they could be revisited at a later date. As the canvassers left others returned back to the pub from an earlier canvas and reported a positive reaction.
Senator Phelan was accompanied by John Dowling, brother of retired county councillor Dick Dowling and the pair made their way from house to house making sure that everyone knew what was being asked of them, namely to give the affable politician their number one vote. The esteem in which the young senator is held by his neighbours was obvious with one lady asking if she could take his badge from him in order to show her suppport. “You’ll definitely have my number one John Paul. I am delighted you called to my house,” one lady said.
However the serious issues that have cast a dark cloud over people’s lives were still very much at the fore of people’s minds and they wanted to know what the Fine Gael candidate could do for them if he is elected. Job creation and tax increases were two of the most common issues raised, hardly surprising considering the new tax, the Universal Social Charge which was implemented this month. “I am being crucified by the Universal Social Charge. I am working so much harder now and am earning much less,” one woman told Senator Phelan. Another local businessman told canvassers that he was enduring tough times. “People have less disposable income and are spending less as a result,” he said.
Impressively Senator Phelan received support from family members of Minister Sean Connick (Fianna Fail) who lives in Co Kilkenny but serves the constituency of Wexford. “I’ll consider giving you a vote,” Minister Connick’s brother-in-law told Senator Phelan.
“Last time around I missed out by 200 votes. I am taking nothing for granted and will work as hard as I can to secure as many votes as I can,” said the Senator who also ran in the European Elections. “If I get elected I will try my best to implement my party’s policies which includes job creation, fix the deficit, creating a smaller, better government, get the healthcare system working and politicial reform.”