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Saturday 24 February 2018

Kenny storms into by-election

Campaign hots up as weather turns sour

Anita Guidera

THE storm-force winds and torrential rain that raged across the county by lunchtime yesterday set the agenda for a day where political walkabouts turned in to dashes for shelter.

It was not a fit day out for man or beast -- but Fine Gael and Sinn Fein party leaders bravely tried to whip up storms of support of their own yesterday for by-election candidates in Donegal South West.

Even the election posters festooning lampposts, down the 'spinal cord' of the constituency from Drumkeen to Bundoran, gave way to the force of nature. Hitting the ground running was a determinedly ebullient Enda Kenny, who first met with surfers in Bundoran but wasn't tempted to ride the waves.

"We are screwed at the moment by inefficiency in government. We have got to change that and we will. The people of Donegal South West can help us do that," he declared.

He stoutly professed confidence that party candidate Barry O'Neill could take the by-election seat, giving Fine Gael a second seat in the three-seater constituency.

"I put a tenner on Barry to win this seat and I expect to be back to collect after November 25," Mr Kenny said.

The Fine Gael leader insisted there was no way back for a government that had lost all credibility.

"Irrespective of what Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan do they will never restore the sense of credibility and belief that is necessary for international money lenders in a sovereign government," he said.

"They have led us to the edge of an economic abyss, and we are standing at that cliff edge now."

In Donegal Town, sausages were the only thing on Mr Kenny's mind as the Fine Gael leader dashed up the street to McGettigan's butchers -- home to a five-times national champion sausage-maker.

"You put these sausages with Kelly's black puddings from Newport in Mayo and you have the makings of an Irish breakfast fit for kings and canvassers," he declared, before securing a selection of pork, lamb and chicken bangers.

Then it was across the rainswept Diamond to the Abbey Hotel where he was meeting an angry delegation from the Irish Farmers' Association.

"Along the whole western seaboard of Ireland, the income for small farmers has been cut by €12,000 and €14,000, We can't go on," said John O'Donnell.


On the other side of the storm-ravaged Barnesmore mountain gap, McElhinney's Stores in Ballybofey provided welcome shelter for a warmly-clad but slightly dishevelled-looking Gerry Adams, who was positively ecstatic at Pearse Doherty's chances of winning the by-election.

"There wouldn't be a by-election if Pearse hadn't taken the High Court action. It is a huge ask but if we get every single person out to vote for the only anti-government candidate who can win this seat then Pearse can be elected.

"One of the first actions the government candidate will do is vote for this Budget.

"Citizens in this part of the country are least well-placed to withstand the ravages this Government is planning," he said.

Mr Doherty welcomed the Government's decision to move the writs for the two other by-elections if it lost its Supreme Court challenge.

"This will ultimately lead to a general election and people across the State will rejoice when that happens," he said.

Local schoolboys Mark Dorrian (16) and Eugene Merritt jostled to have their pictures taken with the Sinn Fein leader. "I have always followed Sinn Fein," Eugene said.

Irish Independent

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