Merciful absence of rancour in Ming’s EU canvass

Luke Ming Flanagan is running in the Euro poll because Europe ‘has gone too far’

Mon, May 5, 2014, 01:00

Anyway, he claims she started it by giving his beard a little tug and asking him what he was going to do about his clothes.

It’s 12.50pm and we are finally on the move – slowly. People gravitate towards him, horns are honked enthusiastically; at least three non-Ming-approved, local candidates crowd him and cling to his aura.

John Wilson proves to be a natural canvasser. “This fella is a Leeds United scumbag,” he says, introducing a grinning voter. “He’ll do what I tell him.”

A 50-something man whispers slyly in Ming’s ear that he wasn’t averse to a spliff himself. In the swarm, Ming’s anti-EU platform barely registers, though the fallout from the closure of the army barracks clearly rankles.

Still seething after the Taoiseach’s visit – “I said to him, ‘hello Mary Lou, goodbye YOU’,” says Breda Guilfoyle – women are complaining loudly about liars and greed when Ming quietly drops a bomb: “I give away half my wages . . .” The women stop: “I might vote for him after that,” says one. To escape the enthusiasm, he takes a backstreet back to the car.

Where does the giveaway money go? About €29,000 to the local playground, he says later; €10,000 for cast-iron heritage street signs for Boyle; a chunk to fight the current High Court case on behalf of bog- owners. Sums have gone to sports clubs and there is a sizeable amount on offer for a swimming pool roof if the county council would take it. About €10,000 is going on election expenses. Total election costs so far are €32,000.

Europe gone too far
He’s going for Europe, “because no one else is representing the view that it’s gone too far”. But has he actually achieved anything here in Ireland?

The acceptance of an independent policing board, “thanks to the Dáil’s independents”, he says; a practical countrywide solution to the bogs impasse; a considered Bill to protect small schools; a contribution to the mental health debate; national pressure to resolve the poisoned drinking water crisis via “pisswatergate” in the Dáil.

Next day in Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, where Niamh Moran, a 24-year-old environmental studies student, is the Mingist candidate, the ground is more challenging. After a few brief encounters, he finds local barber, Barry O’Donohoe.

“You’re a little bit too parochial for me . . . It’s this resentment of government, this thing with rural Ireland reacting against anything that comes from the EU or the Dáil,” argues O’Donohoe, “but the EU has served this country fantastically well.” A lengthy, respectful debate ensues. Back outside, Ming says happily, “after 23 days of canvassing, I haven’t had a discussion like this . . .”

Then he runs back to tell O’Donohoe that he should vote for Marian Harkin.