Minister hopes Kingdom will come to a positive conclusion in fiscal treaty vote
Local Minister Jimmy Deenihan smoothed the way for Leo Varadkar’s Kerry North canvass
LEO VARADKAR is more familiar with Dublin West than Kerry North, so there was a little uncertainty about the reception he would get when he hit the Mall in Tralee yesterday.
But when the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport arrived at their door, the people of the Kingdom displayed the wholehearted hospitality for which they are widely renowned.
Mind you, it helped that he was accompanied by Jimmy Deenihan, a Cabinet colleague and, more importantly in the local context, a winner of five all-Ireland Gaelic football medals. Who better to guide you along, dropping into shops on the way?
Varadkar was fishing for Yes referendum votes, so it was apt that he should bump into Paul Stack, who was holding a salmon.
Standing behind the counter in Quinlan’s fish shop, Stack told The Irish Times he was voting Yes because: “We don’t know what’s going to happen if we vote No.”
Proprietor Liam Quinlan arrived before the Ministers left. He, too, is on the Yes side. “We export a lot in our business and Europe is good for us.”
There was no time to lose as the Minister’s flight out of Farranfore was at 5.10pm. The Varadkar Express stopped off at a local jeweller’s where Norma Connolly was in the undecided category.
“I actually have not made up my mind completely yet.”
One of her customers, who did not wish to be named, said: “I am more Yes than No at the moment. I am going to read the literature tonight. There are so many different angles and debates – it’s very confusing.”
The two Ministers stopped at a Caball’s toyshop, but although the spelling is very close to “cabal” – a phenomenon well-known in Irish politics – the pronunciation is actually “Cables”.
The owner, Ann Laide, needed no persuading from her visitors. “I’m voting Yes, of course, we have no choice.”
A passerby, who had only seen pictures of Varadkar up to now, told him: “You’re as good-looking in the flesh.” Her friend interjects: “He’s actually better-looking.”
At Dowling’s shoe shop, Tony Darmody was trying on some new footwear but was reluctant to be drawn on his voting intentions. “I will keep that to my chest.”
A woman customer who did not want to be named said she was inclined towards the Yes side. “I think it is probably the way to go.”
Bernice Hoffman, Antoinette Sayers and Kayrena Dowling Keane, who happen to be related to Jimmy Deenihan, were all Yes voters.
Antoinette, who has a family connection with the legendary Peig Sayers of schoolbook fame, put it succinctly: “I don’t think we have any other option because Europe was so good to us over the years.”
Out on the street, retired civil servant Seán Murray said he too was voting Yes. “It has to be passed, otherwise we’ll all be going around in bare feet, as we used to do many years ago.”
One of the Tralee shopowners told Varadkar of the seven-day working week required to stay in business these days. “For God’s sake, get us out of this, please.”
Turning to Deenihan, the shopowner said: “You seem to be doing a great job, Jimmy. Every time I open the paper you’re in it. The job is made for you.”
When Deenihan mentioned at one point that the Minister for Transport performed the official opening of the new Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre earlier, Varadkar offered to come back to open the new bypass in a couple of years, but Deenihan quipped in response: “You leave that to me.”