Tuesday 6 December 2016

I'm not angry - it's just a stereotype, says Boyd Barrett

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

Richard Boyd Barrett meets Ann Flynn while canvassing in St Brigid’s Park in Cornelscourt. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Richard Boyd Barrett meets Ann Flynn while canvassing in St Brigid’s Park in Cornelscourt. Photo: Steve Humphreys

'Is this a hatchet job?" asks Richard Boyd Barrett cheerfully, and indeed almost with a grain of hope.

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He wouldn't mind if it was, he adds mischievously, as we join him on a canvass of Cabinteely in his Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency.

But despite the public perception that he seems to be almost spoiling for a row at every given opportunity, the mouthy scourge of Government is aghast at the idea that he might be considered an "angry" sort of man. "Ah no," he scoffs. "That's just the stereotype."

"I mean, I'm angry about injustices - I'm not angry as a general state of being."

"I actually try and stay positive," he adds, enthusiastically agreeing that it's a state of mind you have to be in for the business of politics.

And indeed he sounds almost startlingly positive as he states that Dáil Éireann "is a totally different place" to what it was 10 years ago - and is now much better.

He and his team are on their second round of doorsteps and Boyd Barrett is clocking up about 70 hours a week just over midway through this campaign.

Canvassing is a task the People Before Profit politician enjoys, however.

He likes the banter and finds doorsteps to be the place where you learn most about what is going on.

Boyd Barrett walks fast and at one point, a worker has to beseech him to slow down so that the leaflets on an upcoming Irish Water protest next Saturday get a chance to make it there on time.

Outrageous

He meets Ann Flynn (69) - who tells him he "really deserves" to get in, and who expresses grave concern about the property tax.

Her parents bought this council house outright and she feels to be taxed on it at this stage is deeply unfair - particularly to older people like herself.

Boyd Barrett agrees it is "outrageous".

A young man worries about the penalties for not paying the water charges.

Boyd Barrett reassures him that he has until June before the €60 penalty kicks in.

But he is confident that if there is a big turn-out at the protest on Saturday and they make enough noise, they have a real chance of getting Irish Water scrapped after the election.

"Fine Gael and Labour are the only ones committed to it and they're not going to have a majority so everyone they talk to to form a government is going to put them under pressure to abolish it," he says.

The reaction to him is overwhelmingly positive - though most people are not home at 4pm on a drizzly midweek afternoon.

At his doorstep, voter Yan Cullen despairs that the larger political system is not paying due attention to another possibly looming global financial crisis.

Along the way, Boyd Barrett shares his thoughts on Lucinda's comments on crime: "I don't think that's the answer to criminalise parents or lock people up and throw away the key - I mean crime is a serious problem - we've got to actually address it in a serious way and in a grown-up way."

And on Alan Kelly's comments about politics being a drug: "They were mad," said Boyd Barrett simply.

But he feels the remark worryingly reflects the feelings of many elected representatives.

His birth mother, the actress Sinead Cusack who is currently working in London, may join him on the campaign "for a day or two".

"She's very left-wing, very left-wing," he adds.

On repealing the Eighth Amendment, he feels the government is out of touch with the people, but with another startling display of optimism, says he is hopeful it will be soon be made right.

Irish Independent

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