Candidates no match for the two Marys – voters
Published 27/10/2011 | 18:39
WIELDING a meat cleaver in an inner city butcher's, an exasperated John Dunne looked forlornly at tattered and defaced election posters cluttering the streets.
"They're not going to be able to keep the doors of our business open," the life-long butcher warned as he pointed outside.
A permanent fixture in Dublin's Liberties for several generations, an unimpressed Mr Dunne and brother Simon cut through the record seven presidential candidates.
"I've no intention of voting. I don't think any one of them deserves my vote. They live the high life and travel the world having their photos taken and shaking people's hands. How essential is that?" Simon warned.
Neither man, in their 30s and 40s, will vote, despite it being the first presidential election in 14 years.
The last two decades are a hard act to follow - trained lawyers Mary Robinson from 1990-97 and then Mary McAleese revolutionising and modernising the role.
Simon Dunne said none of the candidates in the running were as good as their predecessors - particularly the two women running, who could not live up to the legacies left by "The Marys".
"I don't think Dana or Mary Davis are as good," he said. "They may have political experience but they're not presidential candidates."
What the Meath Street shoppers, Trinity College students and anti-capitalist and anti-establishment protesters are agreed on though, apart from cynicism - they're looking for the best of a bad bunch.
As he weighed a half pound of grapes, Liberties greengrocer Jack Roache said this was the first time in his 67 years that he found himself stumped.
"Let's just say for a presidential race, this has been very unpresidential," he said.
"But I know who I'm voting for. And I'll use all my votes too. If there were 100 running, I'd do the same.
"I think Michael D has gained a lot of ground on Gallagher, and that's not a bad thing."
Meanwhile, the elder statesman of the race, Labour's Michael D Higgins, appeared to be pulling in support across the board, not least among the young.
Strolling through Trinity's cobbled square to mull over the choices, student Victoria Darragh, 20, said: "Michael D has the most experience, he knows what he's doing and he's the one I most trust. I thought he might be a bit old but I still like him as he's Labour."
Sarah Joyce, 23, stood under the bell tower in the Front Square, adding: "Michael D is the only candidate who hasn't had any dirt dug up on him. And he's remained dignified throughout.
"The rest of them have just been a joke."
The strong-willed protesters outside the Central Bank from Occupy Dame Street - a sit-in which followed the Occupy Wall Street ideals - were even less complimentary.
The demonstrators refused to give their names with one dismissing the presidency as "nothing but a symbolic, money-wasting" role.
Outside Dunne's butchers again, the mood and interest in the next President hadn't lifted as the day wore on.
Canny greengrocer Mr Roache seemed to be one step ahead of the political scientists predicting huge voter apathy and a low turnout.
Putting his money down, he pulled out a betting slip - 50 euro at 7-1 for a turnout of 40-45%.
"I thought the odds were good - I won a few bob at the weekend so I invested," Mr Roache said.
But the Dunne brothers shared a laugh with customers about Government party candidate Gay Mitchell, who started and finished his lacklustre campaign outside their shop.
"He looked very nervous, very timid and very worried when his car first pulled up here five weeks ago," said Simon.
"But he looked a lot calmer on his last visit," he added.
"And why wouldn't he? The end is in sight."