“Donegal is going to puncture a lot of theories about opinion polls”
Minister of State for Labour Affairs Dara Calleary, recently appointed Fianna Fail’s deputy campaign manager in the Donegal South-West byelection, says he thinks the contest will “puncture a lot of theories about opinion polls”.
Asked why he was selected to assist Minister for Social Protection Eamon O Cuiv with Fianna Fail Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill’s campaign in Donegal South-West, Calleary says: “Geography. I know the area, I know the organisation”. Fianna Fail is “blessed” with its organisation “up there”, he adds. “There’d be a bit of passion in Fianna Fail about this campaign.”
The party convention that took place in Glenties recently wasn’t “stage managed”, Calleary insists. “To get 500 people out on the worst weather night of the year for a convention where there is no contest, so it wasn’t a case they were whipped out.”
Calleary describes Taoiseach Brian Cowen as a “passionate” person. He speaks about knowing “the real Brian Cowen” as distinct from the Taoiseach as portrayed by “the media”. There is a “style issue”, he concedes, “but give me substance any day”. An Ard Fheis, “probably in the spring time”, will “rally the troops”.
He says Cowen should be given credit for promoting young people. A first-time deputy, 37-year-old Calleary said: “There’s three of us from the class of ’07 in Government. There’s [Ministers of State] Aine Brady and Sean Connick and myself. And that didn’t happen before. Newer people are getting a chance to serve.” He also cites the appointment of James Carroll to the Seanad last year at the age of 26.
He says an “Ogra generation” of people of “ten or 11 people” he got to know through his involvement with the Fianna Fail youth organisation now serves in the Dáil, mentioning Meath East TD Thomas Byrne (33) and Cork North-West deputy Michael Moynihan (42) by name.
He has sent a strong message to secretaries general that they must not use the possibility of a change of Government to delay implementing the Croke Park deal, which you can read about here: http://bit.ly/an0CDk
Calleary and Beverley Flynn are the two Fianna Fail TDs in Mayo, where Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny heads up what Calleary calls “the strongest Fine Gael organisation in the country” in the five-seat constituency.
“We’re obviously under a bit of pressure there because Enda’s there as leader of the Opposition. You’ve got Michael Ring, an unbelievable worker; you’ve John O’Mahony, who has all sorts of other attractions…in terms of the GAA,” he says.
“So you’re up against that. But I’m confident we’ll have a good election.” His relationship with Beverley Flynn is “pretty good” and “constructive”, and they work together on projects. “I don’t have time to be bothering about baggage.”
Labour will run former Independent Dr Jerry Cowley in the constituency. O Cuiv recently predicted Dr Cowley would return to the Dail.
Calleary studied business and politics at Trinity College Dublin and worked for Chambers Ireland for 8 years. When he was younger he worked summers in a gift shop his mother managed, and also “did the usual teenagers jobs, worked in hotels, that kind of thing”.
His father Seán Calleary was a TD from 1973 until 1992 and his grandfather Phelim Calleary was a deputy between 1952 and 1969. Both of them retired. “Hopefully I get to do the same,” Calleary says.