Monday 24 April 2017

Democracy on tap puts pints and ballot papers together

Kevin Lyda from Kanses, New York, (now living in Balbriggan) poses after he cast his vote at the Democrat voting centre in O'Neills Pub yesterday.
Kevin Lyda from Kanses, New York, (now living in Balbriggan) poses after he cast his vote at the Democrat voting centre in O'Neills Pub yesterday.
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

IF only all voting centres had Guinness on tap.

In the corner of a Dublin pub, 3,000 miles from their homeland, hundreds of impassioned Americans made sure their vote counted as the race for the Democratic presidential nomination hotted up.

The prospect of either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama dropping by for some last-minute campaigning was remote, but the close proximity of a bar meant there was still a carnival atmosphere among ex-pats.

Bunting, flags and balloons marked out the corner of O'Neill's pub on Suffolk Street that had temporarily been transformed into a Democratic polling centre.

Outside, bemused patrons tucked into their carvery lunches wondering what all the fuss was about -- there was nothing Super about their Tuesday.

But around 400 Americans had registered to vote in the Democratic Global Primary. And when you're already so far from home, a 400-mile round-trip to the polling booth is no problem.

Dingle

"We've a guy driving down from Sligo at the moment, my parents have come up from west Cork and I know of another man who's coming all the way up from Dingle," said Kate Fitzgerald, chairperson of Democrats Abroad Ireland and organiser of the vote.

And while a few eyebrows might have been raised at the prospect of voting in a pub, Ms Fitzgerald explained that this is where the group holds all of its meetings.

By lunchtime, around 40 voters had cast their ballots with more expected to flock in later in the evening, before the centre reverted to its original role at 10pm. And, like their brethren Stateside, loyalties were split evenly.

Obama supporter Liv Gibbons, who originally hails from California but has been living in Sutton in Dublin for the past 23 years, said the senator is a sure-fire vote winner.

"You see your country from a different perspective when you're not living there,'' he said.

But Tom Beary, a native of Limerick, said he had voted for Hillary Clinton. ''She's a lady of great ability,'' said Tom, who has dual citizenship because his father was a US citizen.

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