Labour TD lashes attack on 'overpaid media gurus for Ashbourne Annie'
A Meath-based Labour TD has launched a scathing attack on his party's "overpaid media gurus" over the creation of a fictional voter dubbed 'Ashbourne Annie'.
The Sunday Independent revealed last week that Labour is pinning its elections hopes on 'Annie' - an imaginary young mother of two living within Dublin's commuter belt - who party strategists believe can be wooed ahead of the general election.
The emergence of Annie and her hardworking but yet to be named husband led to a social media frenzy and even resulted in the creation of a parody Twitter account.
However, Labour's Meath East TD Dominic Hannigan, who has a constituency office in Ashbourne, is fuming over the party's decision to name its target swing voter after a fictional version of one of his constituents.
Mr Hannigan told the Sunday Independent: "I'm very pissed off that they went out with this without asking me what I thought. I could have explained what life is like for many of my constituents.
"It shows insensitivity to people who are having it tough. Our overpaid media 'gurus' time would be better spent if they came out on the doors with me and saw what real concerns and issues are."
Annie is the culmination of months of market research and is seen as the epitome of the middle-class voter who is hoping for a little bit more cash after the next budget.
She wants to go out with her husband for a meal at the weekends. But Annie and her husband bought their house near the top of the property bubble and are struggling to repay the mortgage.
Labour hopes tax cuts and reforms of childcare and other services will make life easier for the many thousands of 'Annies' living in both the Dublin commuter belt and elsewhere around the country.
However, the term used led to an angry online backlash. Comparisons were drawn with 'Joe the Plumber' - a real self-employed worker and Republican voter who clashed with Barack Obama during the 2008 US presidential race.
Poet Frank L Ludwig even composed a poem dedicated to Annie and her family.
Fianna Fail Senator Thomas Byrne, who is running for his party in Meath East, said Labour's popularity was dropping in the polls because the party was obsessed with 'West Wing' language.
Mr Byrne told the Sunday Independent: "Most parties go after real voters, not imaginary ones. The people we deal with in Ashbourne are real people. Any politician worth their salt will know a lot of them personally and will have dealt with them personally and we have to react to their issues."