Friday 28 October 2016

Willie O'Dea's election diary

Published 14/02/2016 | 02:30

Willie O'Dea
Willie O'Dea

Without doubt water charges and homelessness are the issues most often raised with me on the doorsteps. This has been the case since the canvass started, but last week they were joined by two others.

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The first was non-political. The death of Terry Wogan and the news of Paul O'Connell's retirement were greeted with great sorrow in Limerick. For several days, virtually every other door I called to was opened with the line... "ah Willie, isn't it so sad to hear about Terry or Paul"... or both.

The second was political. Suggesting the abolition of the Special Criminal Court has a particular resonance here in Limerick. We recall how rife jury intimidation was a decade or more ago.

We changed the law in 2009 to show the gangs that they could not hold an entire city to ransom and I heard no one at any doorstep tell me that it was time to abandon that change.

On Tuesday, I go to hand in my nomination papers.

Despite checking that I have all the appropriate documents there is a frisson of terror when an official suggests they cannot find my proposer on the register. What seems like an eternity passes over the following five seconds or so.

My proposer is about to produce his birth cert, baptismal cert, driver's licence, phone bill and set of canvass cards from every election since 1992 when suddenly - to much relief - we hear the words "it's ok, we found him".

With that my nomination is confirmed and the great occasion is recorded for posterity with the obligatory photo for Facebook.

Speaking of social media, every time we finish canvassing, I check my messages. I'm amazed by the volume of candidates, of all parties, posting photos on social media saying what a great canvass they've just had.

Now, while I would never accuse anybody of being - in the words of Alan Clarke "economical with the actualite" - there is no way we are all being so welcomed.

This may in part explain, why some of my Twitter and Facebook photos last week featured me with many of the signs I have encountered on garden gates stating: No Fine Gael, No Labour.

I suppose if you don't call, you won't get a bad reception.

Sunday Independent

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