Opportunity knocks but not on doorsteps

Alex White attempts to bridge troubled waters

 Alex White on the Rosie Hackett bridge, the new go-to launching pad for the left.

Alex White on the Rosie Hackett bridge, the new go-to launching pad for the left.

Fri, May 30, 2014, 22:04

Here’s the real result of the elections: the doorsteps have spoken and they think politicians are talking to the wall.

Humility was the order of the day when the troops returned to Leinster House.

”We have learned from the doorsteps” was the phrase of the week from the Disconnected Ones.

None more so than members of the Labour Party. The new generation of TDs and senators were particularly cheesed off. “We kept being told to go out to the doors and talk to people. But we’ve been doing that, and getting it in the neck for months - not that the elder lemons were bothered to hear it” said one of them yesterday.

”We had volunteers with us who were taking dog’s abuse. It was twice as vicious in Dublin. I didn’t see the big wigs out helping them.”

On Monday, their leader offered himself up as political sacrifice to the angry doorsteps and the succession race began.

Alex White, wearing a very pink tie, chose to open his campaign with a press conference on the newly opened Rosie Hackett bridge in Dublin, after one of his team moved members of the public from the adjacent seating.

He would have been too busy to see one of the first victims of his medical card fiasco floating, face up, down the Liffey. It was an Emer Costello election poster, glaring up accusingly at Medical Card Man as she drifted by.

The event was a bit stagey, not least because Labour and the unions seem hell bent on annexing the Rosie Hackett bridge as their own, rather in the way Sinn Féin pitch up outside the GPO on big occasions.

White and the young three TDs (Derek Nolan, Michael McNamara and Ciara Conway who turned up in support wore overblown red roses in their lapels, looking like they’d taken a wrong turn on the way to a wedding. Except for Derek, who stood tall and silent beside the man he is proposing for leader.

He looked like an off-duty guard moonlighting on a bit of security work.

Apart from the TDs and senator John Gilroy, the majority of the group with him was very male and middle-aged, with a strong air of SIPTU about them.

Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn, who lost his council seat last week, was also in attendance. But he didn’t get a rose.

That’s the brutality of politics for you.

Speaking of which, junior Health minister White got quite a going-over from the assembled journalists who wanted to focus on his special area of responsibility – the medical card fiasco.

The shambles that White, along with the rest of The Disconnected in government, failed to notice on their beloved doorsteps before the elections.

It was a bit awkward for the candidate, who insisted the decision to cut so many cards for so many deserving cases had been a government decision. Personally speaking, he hadn’t liked it one bit at the time, he insisted.

So if he was that upset, why didn’t he do what his predecessor Róisín Shorthall did: stick to his principles and resign?

Alex was, as the late Seamus Brennan once famously remarked, playing senior hurling now. It wasn’t pretty.

And it got worse. Did he shaft Eamon Gilmore? Oh, no. “There was nobody taken out.” Because Eamon, for whom he has the deepest respect, resigned of his own accord.

”I think Eamon himself came to the conclusion that it was best for him to resign his leadership of the Labour Party and, as he said himself, there is no difficulty between us…”

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