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Oops, poor old Micheal misses writing on wall

'Fianna Fail mafia,' roared an elderly man as Micheal Martin arrived at the gig. He was furious at what the party had done to the country

'I'VE been beaten, kicked, lied to, cussed at, swindled, taken advantage of and laughed at. But the only reason I hang around this crazy place is to see what will happen next."

Oh, the riches -- where, oh where, to even begin?

With this sign hanging over the bar, no wonder Micheal Martin's handlers were waving frantically at him and hissing: "Micheal, no, no," as he stood in for a picture with Jean Campbell, the landlady of McGee's bar on the main street of Kells in Co Meath.

But alas, poor Micheal never spotted the danger at all at all and happily smiled under the nice big yellow reminder of what exactly his party had perpetrated on the Irish people.

It didn't even appear to have been a set-up. When later pointed out to Ms Campbell, she looked aghast and clapped her hand to her face: "Oh." It seemed she had forgotten the sign.

"Does this mean there'll be free drink?" piped up local man John Power as Micheal posed for the cameras.

"I'll see if we can afford that on the four-year plan -- I'd better check under the Finance Bill," quipped the Fianna Fail leader. And everyone laughed -- only maybe a little grimly.

Later on, a couple sat in the lobby of the Headfort Arms hotel on the main street to plan their wedding -- they're going to arrive into the dinner to the strains of 'Suspicious Minds' and are going for a colour scheme of yellow and cream and a three-tier cake.

Meanwhile, the Fianna Fail rally was struggling on in another room.

Energy levels were running low on this wet and rainy night in the constituency of Meath East and it had been a miserable affair as they dashed between the doorways of shops to say hello.

"Bad night," muttered Micheal to his handlers.

There was a bit of a set-to between the grassroots folk and a local woman who had felt outraged when her business had been passed by on the campaign trail and had to be soothed with a sit-down chat with Micheal.

Local politics stuff.

About 100 people had showed up for the rally and a pair of musicians had to be furiously shushed, finishing their fairly maudlin version of the fairly maudlin tune, 'Sonny's Dream' just as they had gotten to the part about "feeling so tired, not all that strong". Too close to the bone.

And then a great beckoning got under way to fill up all the empty seats in the room before the arrival of Micheal Martin and senator Donie Cassidy with his immaculate parting.

Local TD and candidate Thomas Byrne had taken a leaf out of Paul Gogarty's shameless book and had brought along his three tiny children, Sinead (3), Tomas (2) and 11-week-old Daithi for the pictures.

The national media had written Fianna Fail off in Meath East completely, he informed his audience. But while he had encountered some criticism on the doorsteps, he was also getting "fantastic support", he said.

People realise that the opposition don't have all the answers, he added hopefully.

Down the road earlier in Dunboyne, a Q&A session with hand-picked participants had been hastily organised at the old schoolhouse. There were a few schoolkids, a good smattering of young people -- but all suspiciously party-faithfuls -- a few from the business community and the rest were mostly elderly.

A first-timer on the ticket, councillor Nick Killian, admitted he was getting "quite a lot of anger and quite a lot of hostility" on the doorsteps -- but it's all parties, not just Fianna Fail, he added quickly.

"There's no apathy at the door anyway," he said.

"Fianna Fail mafia," roared an elderly man as Micheal Martin arrived at the gig. "Cut-throat."

The man was given the brush-off by the party handlers but later explained that he was furious with Fianna Fail and what they had done to the country. "He tries to pretend he wasn't one of the 15 who cut the social welfare, the blind, the orphans," he said.

"He has the nurses working for nothing and he still holds on to his teaching job." The man shook his head in disgust.

Irish Independent