Campaign Trail


CARL O'BRIEN's sideways look at Election 2011

Rabbitte in the spotlight as remark sparks sexism claim

Is Pat Rabbitte the Andy Gray of Irish politics? Yesterday the former Labour Party leader was accused of scoring an own-goal after making what a Fianna Fáil candidate claimed was a "sexist" slur.

Responding to Fianna Fáil's frontbench reshuffle, the Labour TD said the inclusion of unelected representatives gave it all the hallmarks of a political stunt.

"You might as well wander down Grafton Street and see if you can meet a couple of good-looking women and say, 'would you ever mind coming up for the photograph - it's only for four weeks' . . ." Rabbitte told RTÉ's Pat Kenny.

This is the same Pat Rabbitte who - incidentally - described Michael McDowell as a "pre-menstrual Paris Hilton".

Mary O'Rourke objected to the comments on the same programme, but quickly moved on to other issues. However, Averil Power (inset), an unelected representative and frontbench spokeswoman on political reform, launched an all-out attack on Rabbitte.

"It is a real shame that when women are given important jobs on their own merits, they have to deal with sexist comments from Pat Rabbitte," fumed Power, who is standing in Dublin North East.

"Pat Rabbitte loves to appear in the media and lecture people about a new politics, but his Andy Gray approach to women shows that all he's about is empty soundbites and smart phrases."

Rabbitte later felt compelled to make an apology of sorts. "Today I made a flippant remark aimed at highlighting the absence of women candidates in the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party and, if anybody took offence, I apologise."


- Gordon McArdle, an Independent candidate running for election in Dublin North, is pushing for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Ireland.

Young Martin's comments on youth emigration age rather well

It looks like Micheál Martin won't need to change much from his 1989 campaign literature this time around. "Ireland is very much a land of youth. It is sad, therefore, to see the young leaving us," a young Micheál says, gravely.

"They go in search of work that they should have at home. It is our duty to give them the work that will keep them, their energy and their talents in this country."

The leaflet, unearthed by Alan Kinsella, who's behind the Irish Election Literature website, doesn't say who is responsible for the blight of emigration (although Fianna Fáil had been in power for the previous two years).

Nonetheless, the young Micheál and future Fianna Fáil party leader knows who can reverse the trend.

"Your vote will matter if you help elect a government ready, willing and able to take on this task.

"Fianna Fáil is the only party which can give you and the youth of the country such a government."


"When Micheál Martin announced the recently revamped front bench, I couldn't help thinking, 'how many of you will actually be in the next Dáil?'

Mathews plays the Montessori card in pursuit of school's vote

Peter Mathews, the banking expert and new Fine Gael candidate in Dublin South, may be new to politics but he's learning the campaigning ropes fast.

A vital attribute for any aspiring Dáil deputy is to claim long-standing links - no matter how tenuous - with any organisation or institution and to shamelessly canvass their votes.

In this case, it's Mount Anville, a prestigious girls secondary school in south Dublin, which Mathews does not claim to have attended - but he is a proud past pupil of Mount Anville's Montessori school, as revealed in an e-mail intended to be circulated to all past pupils.

"My two brothers (Mark and Stephen) are also, like me, past pupils of Mount Anville's Montessori school. My grand aunt Sister Hylda Carton was Mother Provincial for Ireland and Scotland some years ago. As a family, we're very loyal to the Sacred Heart!"

He may only have spent a handful of years at Montessori - but we are assured they were crucial ones.

"Part of my preparation for public life and, hopefully, a seat in Dáil Éireann if I'm elected, was most definitely the formative and invaluable early education I received from Sister Power and her team of dedicated teachers in Mount Anville's Montessori. They were wonderful teachers and educators!"


Gerry Kinsella, who's running as an Independent in Wicklow, wins the Oscar for most locations and costume-changes in a campaign video . . . watch as he swings a hurley on a GAA pitch, dashes along an athletics track, strides through the county's rolling hills, or just relaxes by the fireside.

This slick, animated campaign video for 23-year-old Independent candidate Dylan Haskins - filmed and produced by volunteers - sets the bar for others to follow. He has already established his own record label, managed bands and established a volunteer-run social centre in Temple Bar. Next on the to-do list for this young man in a hurry is to get elected in Dublin South-East.

Goodbye to all that . . .

"This election will define Ireland's economic future and decide whether we succumb to the recession or move forward from it"

Taoiseach Brian Cowen's final address to the Dáil yesterday

"This Government has been one of the worst in living memory"

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny

"Yes, we have problems, grave problems. But nobody, and especially ourselves, should ever doubt what we are capable of"

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore

"It's a pity you had to breach litter laws by putting up posters early"

Green Party leader John Gormley, to Fine Gael's Lucinda Creighton