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Nicola Anderson: Locals still sweet on Club Orange man despite FF troubles

CHRIS Andrews' campaign team has managed to find the one person in the country who is unaware Fianna Fail are in trouble.

At a Dublin inner-city block of flats, a middle-aged man answers the door on the first knock, takes the leaflet and instantly warns: "Ah, you'll have to do better next time."

"Well, Fianna Fail are going into opposition anyway -- Chris will be in the backbenches," replies the election worker, matter-of-factly.

"Do you think so?" exclaims the man, aghast at the news.

"Fine Gael will be in power next time -- fact," says the campaign worker. "We've been in power too long."

He blames the party's downfall on Bertie's statement that the naysayers should "commit suicide".

Perhaps an overly concise synopsis of the whole financial crisis -- but, nevertheless, it continues to be startling when Fianna Failers so frankly admit that they are in crisis.

It doesn't seem to bother the Dublin South East TD, who is wandering around the Markievicz House flat complex near Pearse Street, cheerfully munching a jammy doughnut presented by a family he's just visited.

It's a long story, but it seems Chris had dropped in on their granny in Ringsend and pretended a little boy had stolen his doughnut.

When the family heard Chris was around yesterday, they rushed out and bought him some.

This is fairly typical. Chris Andrews is very popular, even amongst his critics who sometimes level the charge that he is not the "brightest tool in the shed", but who always concede that he is a "nice guy".

Actually, this assessment doesn't seem fair.

Perhaps they are judging him for the child-like enthusiasm he's managed to retain for the job and for his, yes, perennial "niceness".

He doesn't drink, but will happily sit in a pub nursing a Club Orange, and he greatly enjoys the antics of his cousin, comedian David McSavage on the controversial RTE show 'The Savage Eye', watching whenever it doesn't clash with the political debates.

"I think he's great," Chris insists.

"It's all a bit of fun -- politicians shouldn't take themselves too seriously."

At one stage, the family thought David was mad to be trying to make a living out of comedy.


"He was busking on the streets at one point. Now we're thinking that he was right -- politics is much more precarious," Chris muses.

Locals go out of their way to say that he has done a lot for the area.

"I'll be giving him my number one," nods Audrey Sheridan of Markievicz house.

Earlier, Chris met up with his party leader Micheal Martin for a few pitstops around the constituency.

In the creche at St Andrew's Resource Centre, Micheal got a dusting of flour from a toddler terrified of the sudden onslaught.

Micheal is clearly embarrassed.

Then, it's off to a printing press to unveil Chris's new election posters.

"Extra large," notes Micheal, giving a wink as he recalled the Greens had done something similar.

"Hopefully there'll be nothing subliminal about it," Chris jokes and Micheal laughs: "Ah, stop, stop!"

Irish Independent