independent

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Walsh says canvassing 'was a daunting experience'

Mary Fogarty

Published 07/05/2014|05:22

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Gerry Walsh canvass in Charlesland Court: Gerry meets Dermot McAuley across the battle lines doing a drop for Grainne McLoughlin

FOR first-time candidate Gerry Walsh, the door to door canvas 'was a daunting experience at first because I didn't know the reaction I was going to get'.

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However he said people are generous with their time and, 'by and large, are willing to engage'.

The former garda sergeant, who's lining out for Fianna Fáil, is used to the court of public opinion and last Thursday night in Charlesland Court in Greystones he got a good grilling from voters.

Noeleen Pierce was at the first house and was happy to chat. Although she was less keen when she realised he was a Fianna Fáil candidate. 'Fianna Fáil? Are you joking me?', she said.

Gerry however was quick to point out that this is a local election asking her what her issues were. 'Before when I had a problem I went to every politician for help', she said 'and do you know who helped me in the end? Sinn Féin'.

However, she said she might just give him her vote for being the first candidate to call to her door ... ever.

Walking along the estate, father-of-two Gerry said the reaction at the doors has been 'better than expected. You do get lambasted in the odd house but I explain that this is a local election about local issues. When we started canvassing in mid-February a lot of people didn't want to answer the door, particularly elderly people, and you can understand that.'

Sharon Batty, a young mum-of-three, said schools were her priority and said a primary school was needed on the Charlesland side of town to address the growing population. Moving along, Gerry bumped into Dermot Macaulay who was busy doing a leaflet drop in the estate promoting Fine Gael's Gráinne McLoughlin.

Both men had a quick chat about people's reaction and how each of the two campaigns were going. A quick laugh over the chance meeting, and they were off in separate directions.

Gerry said that if his team arrive in an estate and they find another candidate knocking on doors, they move on.

'It's not fair on voters,' he said adding that often people are only in the door from work and trying to make dinner and get children ready for bed when canvassers call.

Paul Ivory was more than happy to listen to Gerry but didn't commit a vote either way. He wanted a 'brief overview' as to why he should vote for Gerry and Gerry made his pitch.

As a former chairman of the local GAA club Gerry didn't even break a sweat as he canvassed the huge estate on foot.

Ann Redmond had plenty to say when she answered the door, although Fine Gael canvassers might want to give her a miss because she said she wouldn't be voting for 'that Fine Gael crowd'.

She was very miffed about the impending water charges and the stealth taxes being imposed on pensioners.

'We have increased prescription charges, we have to pay €10 to get blood tests even though we have a medical card, we have to pay €10 if the doctor signs a form for us. They are indirectly taking our pension,' she fumed, 'they must really think we're fools.'

Not one to miss an opportunity, Gerry said he hoped she'd give him a vote on the day and she said she would 'to get that Fine Gael gang out altogether'.

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