Thursday 21 September 2017

Election time: Adventures on the political frontline

Deirdre Reynolds spends an afternoon taking fashion advice from all those election posters

Mannix Flynn (Independent)'s election poster
Mannix Flynn (Independent)'s election poster
Emer Costello's giant election poster on Liberty Hall
Claire Byrne (Green Party)'s election poster
Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn is making a right horse's ass of electioneering. As he bids to retain his seat on Dublin City Council, the politician's face can be seen – or perhaps more accurately heard – clip-clopping around St Stephen's Green on the back of one of those touristy horse and carts.

Among the deluge of election posters and promises, it's certainly one way to stand out.

Whether the strangely trendy grey and neon pink poster makes any difference to the 56-year-old's re-election chances on May 23 remains to be discovered.

Strolling around the capital this week, you'd be forgiven for thinking the fair city had been transformed into some kind of politically confused teenager's bedroom, plastered such as it is with posters of wannabe poll stars from across the spectrum.

With less than three weeks left until polling in the local and European elections, earnest faces peer from practically every lamppost, not to mention buildings, bus shelters and car bonnets.

Turn one corner on my regular route into town, and there's Fianna Fáil's Mary Fitzpatrick looking all windswept and interested; round another and you'll see Fine Gael's Brian Hayes appearing inordinately happy despite slipping to third place in the opinion polls.

And that's just the prospective MEPs. In the race for the council, there's also fresh-faced Frank Kennedy of Fianna Fáil – whom I'll definitely be quizzing about what anti-wrinkle cream he uses should he come knocking on my door – and Sinn Féin's Chris Andrews – whom I probably won't – to consider.

When it comes to electoral eye candy, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has long been regarded as the Michael Fassbender of Irish politics.

But the dad-of-four, who's running for the European Parliament, faces stiff competition from fellow party member and local election candidate Claire Byrne, who is something of a blonde bombshell. Happily there's no fear of an intra-party split after both made it onto the 'Irish Election Rides' blog that went viral in recent days.

When suffragist Anna Haslam and her pals struggled for my right to vote as a woman, of course it probably wasn't with a view to voting for the most fanciable person on the ballot paper.

Then again, given the way some of the nation's less aesthetically-pleasing public representatives go on, it's worth a shot.

Let's face it, whether it's dating or good old elections, first impressions count.

Otherwise why bother hammering up all those glorified passport photos in the first place?

Sure wasn't it Shakespeare, or maybe Louis Copeland, who once opined that "the apparel oft proclaims the man".

Opting for the usual 'Leinster House chic' of a shirt and tie, it's a mantra that most of the male candidates seem to have taken to heart, with the aforementioned Andrews out to prove that real politicians wear pink.

For the ladies, appropriate election attire isn't quite as clear-cut.

Donning a white top against a white background, for instance, from a distance Labour MEP Emer Costello appears to have been struck by the dreaded 'floating head syndrome'.

And while undoubtedly looking sharp in a navy blazer and silk scarf, every time I see Fine Gael hopeful Nadine Meisonnave, the party's Ryanair-style blue and yellow colour scheme only makes me panic that my handbag will exceed the 10kg allowance on the way into the polling station.

Ultimately it's One Direction that I feel sorry for.

What with all the jostling for shelf space on the cityscape, the billboards for the lads' Croke Park gig on Friday, May 23 barely register a blip.

Actually, that reminds me, I must book my ticket – pretty sure I'm not doing anything else that day anyway.

Indo Review

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