Ballot Capers with Hugh Linehan: Fresh-faced Harris

A sideways look at the election

Simon Harris is braving the inevitable gags about babies (and worse), by handing out wet wipes to voters in his Wicklow constituency

Simon Harris is braving the inevitable gags about babies (and worse), by handing out wet wipes to voters in his Wicklow constituency

 

Fresh Prince of Greystones

His tender years haven’t stopped junior minister Simon Harris from being one of Fine Gael’s top performers. But the youngest member of the 31st Dáil, who was elected in 2011 having just turned 24, is braving the inevitable gags about babies (and worse), by handing out wet wipes to voters in his Wicklow constituency.

“Simon Harris – REFRESHING future for Wicklow” reads the slogan on the packs, alongside a charming shot of the still fresh-faced candidate.

Pesky water campaigners are suggesting the wipes are a substitute for washing your hands properly the old-fashioned way. Other suggestions for their use are just too rude for a family newspaper.

Reports of their demise...

The Labour Party isn’t happy about news reports on what election terms Google users in Ireland have been using. In particular they’re unhappy about the question “is Labour dead?” which Google reported was ranking highly over the last few months.

“We are currently querying the data referenced within it with Google, asking whether they distinguished between the British and Irish Labour parties in these search terms,” a party representative says, pointing out that this particular question has been a subject of controversy in the UK.

Other popular Google terms included “How much does Enda Kenny earn?”, “Why was Gerry Adams voice dubbed?” and “Who will win the next Irish general election?”

Born to Run (and Run and Run)

Enda Kenny had a standoff with Gerry Adams when the two party leaders bumped into each other in a Sligo hotel lobby on Wednesday. The two exchanged terse hellos before moving rapidly in opposite directions. Later, at another event in Sligo, Kenny reportedly launched into a verse of Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart. That’ll show them who’s Boss.

Telly Bingo Tonight!

Keep an eye on irishtimes.com on Thursday, when we’ll be launching another exciting digital initiative in advance of the four-way debate hosted at 9pm by Pat Kenny and Colette Fitzpatrick on TV3. With The Irish Times Leaders Debate Bingo Card (patent pending) you can pick the phrases you think will crop up most during the 90-minute programme. Do you favour “Fiscal Space” over “Fairness”? “USC” or “trolleys”? While we obviously don’t condone gambling or drinking, we understand some may wish to enhance their bingo enjoyment – or to dull the pain.

Confessions of a Prosecco Socialist

It’s a relief to hear anything that breaks the monotonous grind of party leaders being asked the same questions day in and day out. Full marks, therefore, to The Seán Moncrieff Show on Newstalk, whose 10-minute interviews feature a series of quick-fire questions that the leaders won’t be asked anywhere else. Here’s a selection from Joan Burton’s interrogation:

If you had an ejector seat button, which politician would you eject from the Dáil? “It wouldn’t be Mary-Lou! It could be another slightly small guy, I won’t even mention his name. I have to think about this...”

Last time you got drunk? “Nowadays I just sip wine, Prosecco particularly. Maybe two or 2½ glasses, and that’s it.”

Have you ever broken the law in any way?

“Yes, I got a few speeding tickets and I have to confess to being clamped a couple of times.”

She’ll be back

Email rcoppinger@oireachtas.ie, and you get this automated response: “Ruth Coppinger and her team will be out of the office until Monday 29th February 2016.” That’s what you call optimism.

Quote of the Day

“To me and to most people Sinn Féin are a cult, they’re not a political party... they want kangaroo courts but they don’t want the Special Criminal Court. ” – Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins

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