Tuesday 10 December 2019

Sean Haughey on the campaign trail: 'I have my mother's humility... not my father's'

Sean Haughey. Photo: Tom Burke
Sean Haughey. Photo: Tom Burke
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

"I HAVE a bit of my mother’s humility,” says Sean Haughey. “Not my father’s,” he adds with a rolling chuckle.

In his office above Domino’s Pizza on the Kilmore Road in Artane, constituency maps heavily marked in highlighter pens adorn the walls and a large sack of chocolate is left on the floor – a gift from Cadburys – the big local factory.

“This campaign is powered by chocolate,” says Haughey’s campaign manager, Sean Paul Mahon who has worked alongside him “for years.”

There’s a team of around 80 to 100 people on the ground, dropping leaflets, knocking on doors for the dogged Fianna Fail candidate – who after losing his seat in the last election quietly went back to the drawing board of Dublin City Council.

“It was quite nostalgic for me,” says Haughey. “It was where I started out.”

But he found the Council quite changed from those early days when he became the youngest ever Dublin Lord Mayor in 1989.

Sean Haughey and his mother Maureen on her 90th birthday
Sean Haughey and his mother Maureen on her 90th birthday

“It’s very fragmented now with all the Independents and all the new parties. It’s quite hard to get things done.”

He says this is his biggest concern amid the looming election – that the Dail will become the same sort of fragmented place.

On the doorsteps, the Haughey name is a great asset, he says. “They all know me  - I don’t have to introduce myself.”

Asked what he thought Charlie would have made of the mooted Fine Gael/Fianna Fail coalition, Sean smiles: “He wouldn’t have liked it.”

“It’s a funny thing – a voter did say to me: “Your father would be turning in his grave,” he says, adding that many of his supporters are not too happy with the idea.

Losing his seat last time was helped by the fact that it was part of a huge sweep of Fianna Fail made it easier “as you didn’t take it too personally.”

The last election had been “a nightmare” to contest. But this time round is possibly his favourite election ever, he says surprisingly.

“I think it’s because it came as such a contrast to the last one,” he says.

“Charlie? At least Charlie gave us his breadcrumbs,”  storms a local woman on Kilmore road.

Sean manages to cajole her, as he asks  for a number one.

“I won’t give you my first one, I’ll give you my third one,” she concedes.

“You can’t ask for better than that – straight out of the Abbey,” chuckles Sean.

One woman on the door says childcare is the main issue in her house. One of her children has twins and its costs €1,400 a month for a three day week.

Anita Murphy tells Sean that “Charlie went away with the builders” and says: “You don’t know what it’s like to live on €230 a week.” Her husband, aged 81, has Parkinson’s disease and carers who come in to give them a hand are often “falling asleep here, they’re that tired.”

“Dev always hung in my granny’s hall,” she tells him, saying she is still undecided as who to give her vote to.

Theresa Keville from Donnycarney assures Sean of her number one, afterwards revealing that he is “the only one” who is helping her with a difficult situation.

She is currently living in a B&B, having been made homeless after the family home had to sold to pay for nursing home fees for her brother.

“It’s very worrying. You’re kind of in limbo,” she says.

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