Harte's campaign is a Labour of love
VALENTINE'S Day in the middle of an election campaign could not have fallen better for one Labour party candidate, with the name of Harte.
Jimmy Harte (52) will be making the most of the love-fest when he hands out red roses on the streets of his home town of Letterkenny, Co Donegal, this morning.
Later this evening, a 'Love Labour-Vote Harte' fund-raising event for the party in the Donegal North East constituency will replace the usual romantic meal he enjoys with wife, Mary, at this time of year.
"I suppose, by their nature, elections are not very romantic affairs so I am trying to put the romance back into them, even if it is only for one day," he told the Irish Independent yesterday.
The Letterkenny-based insurance broker and father of four is the son of former Donegal North East TD for Fine Gael, Paddy Harte.
He left Fine Gael before the 2007 General Election, after a decision by Fine Gael to pursue a single-candidate strategy in the constituency, and remained an independent local councillor until joining the Labour Party two years later.
But father and son believe that the social democratic wings of both parties are comfortable bedfellows.
"It is not so much a matter of right and left as right and wrong.
"Labour and Fine Gael have worked together before and a lot of my thinking is the Labour way of thinking," he said.
He added that Fianna Fail had taken Donegal North East for granted in the past.
"Fianna Fail has dominated in this constituency and yet you look at the unemployment figures and the state of the infrastructure. Voting for them would be patting them on the back for destroying the country," he said.
In an article penned in last week's 'Donegal Democrat', his father, Paddy, who served as a TD for 36 years, insisted that campaigning for his son posed no threat to his Fine Gael credentials.
"In 1972, after campaigning in the Cork by-election in which Fine Gael lost in a landslide defeat, I called for an immediate meeting of Fine Gael and Labour parties to agree a programme of government.
"This eventually led to the formation of the national coalition government in 1973 after Liam Cosgrave and Tom O'Higgins, leader and deputy leader, were directed to meet Brendan Corish and Jimmy Tully, leader and deputy leader of the Labour party.
"Forty years later, I restate that Labour and Fine Gael can now provide strong stable government, which Ireland needs at this time of national crisis," he said.