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Let them eat cake . . . Kerry brings Spring to Gilmore's step

IT was baked with love and care but it was just too early in the day for the wedge of pavlova proffered to Labour leader Eamon Gilmore in Killarney yesterday morning.

"Will you give us a slice of the pie down here in Kerry if we win two seats?" enquired Marie Moloney, the party's candidate in South Kerry. "That's a very big slice you're talking about," joked the leader, who was happy to pose with the enormous cake but stopped short of tasting it before a walkabout up High Street.

At 10am on a blustery Friday bodies were scarce on the street, so Mr Gilmore stepped into Cronins' butchers where he posed for photographers with a leg of the finest Kerry lamb and a boning knife but again stopped short of handling the produce. "It's surgery and not butchery," he demonstrated, referring to the Labour Party's proposals to cut 18,000 public sector jobs, which he insisted would not be frontline positions.

Before leaving the town on his way to Tralee, Mr Gilmore got a taste of the reality for many small businesses in Co Kerry.

Mother-of-one Mary Looney (52) explained that her brother, Gerard Murphy, was to close his architectural firm after more than two decades in business. "There were three people working here at one stage. It just reflects what's happened in construction.

"There's no work so it's kind of bleak at the moment," she said. "This week alone we've lost 'Razzle Dazzle' and 'Roxy Records' and now this. If it was a factory closing you'd hear about it but it's happening slowly," said Marie Moloney.

A Gilmore gale accompanied a Spring tide in Tralee as former Tanaiste and Labour leader Dick Spring accompanied the leader on the canvass with his nephew Arthur, the Kerry North-West Limerick candidate.

The Springs still command attention in Tralee even if some locals are a bit confused about who's who. "Is this your son, Dick?" asked one man on coming face to face with uncle and nephew on The Mall.

Inside Der O'Sullivan's Mall Tavern, mother and daughter Anne and Siobhan Casey from Causeway were contemplating what the future might hold.

Siobhan (23) has been unable to secure employment since graduating with a master's degree last August. "I face the prospect of my six children having to emigrate and 10 years is too long to sort it out," Mrs Casey told the Labour leader.

Back on the street, Mr Gilmore was introduced to the next generation of Springs. Cradled in the arms of his grandfather Arthur Snr, Daniel Spring is too young to be aware of the battle facing his uncle -- who's trying to regain the seat once held by the child's great-grandfather and namesake.

Irish Independent