Miriam Lord: Bare necessities as O’Sullivan canvasses door to door

Naturist warning, Mansion House drink, Stepaside JCB, Daly and singing politicians

While many people welcome the opportunity to bellow at canvassers in the interest of democracy, not everyone is pleased to see them beetling up the garden path.

Some slam doors in faces. Others refuse to open them while making no secret of the fact they are very much at home.

There are the “no canvassers please” notices. “Beware of the Dog” signs work particularly well as a deterrent.

But a notice on one door in Waterford has been proving exceptionally effective in keeping the dreaded leaflet brigades at bay.


“Canvassers, this is a naturist home and you are welcome to canvas [sic] only if you disrobe.”

Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan, who is running for Europe in the Ireland South constituency, encountered this sign at a house in Tramore. The former Greenpeace activist (she was a crew member on anti-nuclear ship The Rainbow Warrior blown up by the French secret service in Auckland Harbour in 1985) is a brave woman, but she still hesitated before pressing ahead.

“I knocked and a woman arrived at the door wearing a robe. Then her husband arrived and he was wearing a robe too. It was the middle of the day. I think they were slightly embarrassed that I caught them with clothes on.”

Mícheál and Carmel Raghaill from Tramore told her that their sign was working very well when it came to warding off canvassers. They said a campaigner from one of the larger parties tore down the first one they printed before leaving without knocking. Perhaps they did this in the hope of embarrassing unwitting rivals pitching up after them.

Shoulder revealed

Grace said the Raghaills have a great sense of humour but she isn’t sure if they are “100 per cent naturist”. They had a very interesting chat about environmental issues and the urgent need for action on climate change.

So did the aspiring MEP – a former national surfing champion – disrobe in return for a couple of votes?

“I pulled down the neck of my jumper and showed a shoulder.”

Meanwhile, candidates from small parties with limited funds have to come up with novel ways of getting their names noticed. O’Sullivan, who says the Green Party has a tiny budget, is running small ads in a number of regional newspapers.

Tipperary’s Nationalist carried two this week.

Under Situations Wanted: “WOMAN AVAILABLE to work as an MEP in Brussels. Previous experience in environmental campaigning with Greenpeace, drafting legislation in the Irish Senate and in raising a family. Position currently vacant in South constituency and must be filled on May 24th. No 1 votes especially appreciated. Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party.”

And in the Social and Introductions section: “GRACE O’SULLIVAN loves nature, environment, campaigning and politics. Will travel to Brussels. Can I be your No 1. European Elections, May 24th.”

Money well spent, reckoned a member of her team. “The two ads cost about €50. And sure, if she doesn’t win a seat she might get a date.”

Lord Mayor gets in a round

Ireland’s toughest job?

That’s an easy one. Bartender in the Mansion House.

Dublin's Lord Mayor Nial Ring has been ripping through an unprecedented amount of gargle (not personally) since winning the chain of office, entertaining guests with great gusto.

Such is his generosity, the Mansion House ran out of its 120-keg annual allocation of free beer from Diageo, then ran through a second goodwill batch of 30 kegs before the city council stepped in and paid for a further 71 kegs.

Fellow councillors and former mayors are raising eyebrows as fast as the hospitable Lord Mayor’s guests are raising glasses. Recent recipients of Ring’s hospitality were the patrons of four pubs in his north inner city bailiwick. A “horrified” Cllr Ring, who is up for re-election next week, has strenuously rejected any suggestions he is trying to woo voters with free drink.

He just wants to entertain the good people of Dublin.

As his term nears an end, we hear there was another big welcome on the beer mat in the Porter House, sorry, Mansion House, last night when Nial threw open the bar, sorry, door for a shindig with friends and supporters.

And tonight, it’s a special Saturday on Dawson Street because the Lord Mayor is celebrating his birthday. This Independent candidate will have a party.

We understand Nial is footing the bill for his own knees-up.


Shock of the Week

A call went up for smelling salts in the Department of Justice on Friday afternoon after somebody showed the Minister a photo of a suspicious-looking individual posing in front of a damaged building with a JCB and a fresh pile of rubble.

"I heard the words: Oh dear God, not another ATM heist!' and then there was dull thud, like somebody fainted on the carpet," quivered a civil servant. An ashen-faced Charlie Flanagan was subsequently informed that the person in the photograph was not, in fact, the ATM mastermind taunting police after another audacious cash machine robbery but the Minister for Transport posting yet another self-serving photograph of himself outside Stepaside Garda station.

"Pace of refurbishment steps up" crowed Winston Churchtown, with a ridiculous grin and a proprietorial hand on the driverless JCB.

Fake News of the Week

When the Fianna Fáil leader was canvassing in Dublin's Phibsborough on Tuesday night with local election candidate Hannah Lemass (great granddaughter of Seán Lemass and granddaughter of Eileen Lemass), he made a beeline for Paschal Donohoe's house but the Minister for Finance wasn't at home. Micheál Martin had a pleasant exchange with Paschal's other half, Justine.

“A lovely women, we had a nice chat and I didn’t mention the war once.”

The war?

“The broadband.”

Micheál adds he has experienced a “genuine kickback on the doorsteps” around the country on the issue.

Some Fianna Fáil hard chaws are putting it about that Paschal was at home, but after the broadband battering Fine Gael has taken in the last two weeks, he hid under the bed when Micheál landed at his front door.

This is not true. Dimplehoe was also on electioneering duty, pounding the pavements in another part of the city.

Vote of Confidence of the Week

There was high praise from all sides in the Dáil on Wednesday for Independents4Change TD Clare Daly, the driving force behind legislation to introduce mandatory inquests in the cases of women who die in childbirth. The Dublin Fingal TD has been campaigning for the measure since she was first elected in 2011. Relatives of women who died in the last decade were in the public gallery to witness the Coroners (Amendment) Bill pass in the Dáil. It now moves to the Seanad.

Daly broke down when reading out the names of women whose families had to fight hard for inquests which found they died as a result of medical misadventure. The HSE should know that people are not going to accept “another family being put through this trauma or being stonewalled by a litigation-obsessed health service”.

The Minister for Justice hoped the Bill could be enacted in its entirety by the end of July.

Then Charlie Flanagan remarked: “I note in particular that Deputy Daly has given her notice of intention to leave the House. I really would be keen that, as she is departing, we would have the legislation enacted.”

He obviously believes Daly is going to win a seat in Europe.

Political harmony

The Fianna Fáil boys are on song in the local elections.

Two doorstep ditties arrived to persecute us this week. The first is from Clondalkin's Trevor Gilligan, who is seeking re-election to South Dublin County Council. Trevor's "self-penned election song" is called "I'd Vote 4u".

Cllr Gilligan sent out a press release about it. He always wanted to write an election song and now his dream has come to pass. “It has a 60s rock ‘n’ roll vibe to it, something I wouldn’t normally write.” In the past, he has released an album, a summer song and a Eurovision song.

Singer Conor Cleare from The Usual Suspects is doing the vocals. This is Trevor's fourth election, he won his first seat in 2004 at the age of 20. And he'll "be knockin' on doors 'til 3004" according to the song.

Here we go:
"I been knockin' on doors since 2004
And I'm hoping you can help me out
If you need a hand
I'll be your man
Feel free to give me a shout."
And so on.

Meanwhile, in East Cork, where there’s a Willie, there’s a way.

Bang Bang Willie

William O’Leary (28) is running for Fermoy Municipal Council.

"There's a new man looking for your vote.
He's a local man for local problems, works night and day, he's always busy
He'll pick you up if you have fallen . . .
Remember his name
It's Bang Bang Willie."

Bang Bang Willie believes in getting maximum geographical bang for his musical buck.

"From his hometown of Rathcormac to the roads of Ballynoe
And Araglin and Coolagown,
He'll help where e'er he goes
Killavullen, Donaraile not forgetting Curraglass
He'll help the town – Fermoy – a promise that will last
His grandad was from Glenville, so he won't let you down,
Same goes for Ballyhooly, Shanballymore and Mitchelstown
And Bartlemy just over the road, he's not far from Kilworth,
He'll answer a call in Clondulane, he'll sort you out in Glanworth,
In Castlelyons and Castleroche and Conna,
That's all the C's
He'll sort you out if you are stuck,
He'll answer all your needs."

Sweet Mother of Divine. We’re exhausted.

Why can’t we manage to win a measly Eurovison semi-final with so much talent in the country?