Bourke hits the trail
AS local election candidate Sylvester Bourke sets off to canvas on Thursday afternoon he is ready for anything that voters can throw at him.
And given the fact that someone threatened to shoot him the previous evening, he is more than aware that voters don't hold back when voicing their opinions!
'The minute he saw me he shouted 'if you don't get out of here I'm going to shoot you'. It was scary as hell,' the only Arklow area Fine Gael candidate reported.
Canvassing alone doesn't appear to phase the full-time farmer and married father-of-three, who, if elected, will be entering his sixteenth year in local politics.
'There is often a lot of abuse on the doorsteps but I'm used to going on my own and it suits my work life and allows me to balance it. When someone is coming with me I have to arrange set times but if I go on my own I can head out straight after I finish work and get an area covered,' he explains.
Wasting no time, Bourke knocks the first door in Abbeyville and is relieved to see the face of resident Pat Fitzpatrick. 'I can't say anything bad about Syl,' she warmly exclaims. Pat's opinions on the state of Arklow however are less than positive. 'I think Arklow is a disgrace at the moment. They have destroyed the Main Street and the Bridge looks awful. It's the lead into the town and creates a terrible impression.'
Conceding that he traditionally receives a higher vote in rural areas compared with the town centre, Bourke accepts criticism from another voter, saying 'well there's no harm in asking for a vote'.
'I'll be quite honest - I won't be voting for you because Enda Kenny was not one bit better than those he was criticising. I am very disappointed with him. I thought he was going to be a great lad,' said the resident who wouldn't be named.
A similar view was expressed by Paddy McManus a few doors away. 'You're not Fine Gael, are you? You can forget about it then. They are taking everything off the pensioners,' he said.
'You really have to get a thick skin for this,' admitted Bourke. 'It's not a personal thing and you can't let your ego get in the way,' he added.
The canvas took a turn for the better from here as both Geraldine Nicholson and Tommy Myler assured Bourke that he would get their votes.
'I will definitely give you a vote. I've given you a vote before,' said Geraldine.
'I will indeed vote for him. I know Sylvie well,' said Tommy, who sat with him on the now defunct Arklow Harbour Board for many years.
Despite a pretty even balance of positive and negative reaction, Bourke seemed relatively happy with the canvas.
'You can't win them all over so that wasn't too bad,' he says.
'What I always say to people is to become involved in a party from the ground up if they want to see changes. It is easy to complain about things but harder to do something about it.'