Monday 23 October 2017

Eamonn Coghlan putting in an Olympic effort but McGuinness the frontrunner

On the canvass

Senator Eamonn Coghlan helps local resident Claire Richardson during canvassing in Edgewood Lawns, Corduff, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Senator Eamonn Coghlan helps local resident Claire Richardson during canvassing in Edgewood Lawns, Corduff, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
FG candidate for Dublin West by-election Eamonn Coughlan and local candidate Maria McGrail, left, with assistants canvassing in Edgewood Lawns, Corduff, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

IN Corduff near Blanchardstown, Eamonn Coghlan is calling door-to-door at what can only be described as an Olympic pace.

But as the athlete-turned-politician wanders into a cul-de-sac in the Edgewood lawn estate, little does he know the identity of one of the residents.

This is the home of Patrick Nulty – the former TD whose resignation from the Dail prompted the very by-election that Mr Coghlan is seeking to win.

Word quickly spreads among Mr Coghlan's team and a different route is chosen.

As the canvass continues, Mr Coghlan quickly realises that voters don't want to converse about his sporting achievements.

"I will never vote for you as long as Enda Kenny is Taoiseach," an irate woman tells the Fine Gael candidate.

Other voters are honest in their admiration of Mr Coghlan's achievements.

"Everyone in the world knows Eamonn Coghlan," says Fianna Fail supporter Claire Richardson.

"I'm voting for David McGuinness but I'll definitely be giving him a vote."

It may well be David McGuinness who finds himself on top in eight days time, or so the young teacher would have you believe.

Mr McGuinness, who narrowly missed out on a by-election here two years ago, claims he is better placed to take a seat than his Fine Gael rival.

"People say Coghlan is well-known. Ask people on the doors and they don't know he's even running in this by-election," Mr McGuinness says.

Meanwhile, in Clonsilla, a potential stand-off is diverted.

The campaign teams of Labour's Loraine Mulligan and Sinn Fein's Paul Donnelly realise they are canvassing the same homes. Perhaps surprisingly, it is Sinn Fein who accepts defeat and allows the junior coalition partner to cover the area.

The problem is, very few voters appear to be at home.

When a constituent does open their door, Ms Mulligan is keen to discuss one topic – education.

"Education is such a big issue here," Ms Mulligan says, "and it's an issue I will champion if I'm elected to the Dail."

While Ms Mulligan has the company of TD Joan Burton, Socialist candidate Ruth Coppinger shows no hesitation in criticising the minister during her own canvass.

Ms Coppinger is impressive as she engages with voters who respond well to her claims that the country is in the midst of a housing crisis.

One candidate who knows the meaning of the word 'crisis' is mortgage campaigner David Hall.

He is the dark horse for the by-election and has secured the support of high profile TDs such as Stephen Donnelly and Roisin Shortall.

Sinn Fein's Paul Donnelly may be viewed as an outsider. But he is quite easily the most impressive out of all the candidates on the doorsteps.

The health care worker does far more listening than speaking, which cannot be said for some of his competitors.

On the issue of Gerry Adams's arrest over the Jean McConville murder, Mr Donnelly insists voters haven't been turned off from supporting Sinn Fein.

"If anything, it has garnered the troops and benefited candidates like myself," he says.

Irish Independent

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