Spring puts a brave face on it


ANALYSIS/Labour: "Occasionally, you need the bounce of the ball and sometimes I don't get it. But nobody died here, life will go on."

Putting the best possible face on it, Mr Dick Spring somewhat wearily spoke to reporters after he had lost his seat in the North Kerry constituency which his family had dominated since 1947.

Was it that he had announced his candidacy too late or was it that, for some reason he failed to bring out the voters from the northern end of the constituency, he wondered?

Could it have been that due to family circumstances (which he was not prepared to detail) he was late into the field, he asked?

There had been close shaves for Labour before in 1969, 1973, 1977, 1981, and, of course, the famous election in 1987 when he survived by only four votes.

If you had to put a bright gloss on it, maybe that wasn't such a bad record after all, he suggested.

Asked by one reporter what went wrong, Mr Spring replied: "I didn't get enough votes, darling."

As to his future in politics, the former Labour leader seemed to indicate without saying so that he wasn't particularly interested in being a local representative on the town council.

One possibility, he added, was that he would go to New Zealand to visit his son, Aaron, and take in the Ireland-New Zealand test series as well.

Mr Spring said he had won elections on many occasions and intended to be brave in defeat.

Having said that nobody stood in an election expecting not to win and he was obviously very disappointed.

But the people of North Kerry, in their wisdom, had spoken and that was that. On Mr Martin Ferris's victory Mr Spring said it was obvious he had run an extremely strong campaign and had managed to get the vote out.

"Fair play to him, it was always going to be difficult and I said from the start that it was like four of us trying to cram into a cattle crush that only had room for three," he added.

Mr Spring said he believed the Eircom share issue controversy had not affected his campaign in any way and added that in politics, a little luck was needed now and then.

In a dignified speech at the count centre on Saturday night,Mr Spring said if he had to do it all over again, he would do the same again.

Quoting Lord Birkenhead, he remarked that "politics was a cruel trade", before turning to Sinn Fein's Mr Ferris and asking with a smile whether it was "alright to quote a lord?".

He wished all the successful candidates luck in "filling all the potholes", as there were plenty of them in the constituency.