Monday 17 June 2019

Shane Ross apologises for 'bizarre' night-time canvassing over the Christmas period

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Damien Eagers
Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Damien Eagers
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Transport Minister Shane Ross has defended canvassing his constituents' houses after dark during the Christmas period.

Mr Ross admitted some of his constituents were a "bit surprised" to see him when he called to their doors during the festive break.

However, he insisted most people he visited were happy to be wished 'Happy Christmas' by their local minister.

"If it has offended some people, I'm sorry," he said.

The minister was responding to comments on RTÉ's 'Liveline' after callers complained about being canvassed after dark on New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve.

Thecla Fowler told Joe Duffy's radio show she was furious after Mr Ross called to her door at 8.45pm on New Year's Eve. "I don't mind anyone calling in daylight but not when it's dark and it's winter," Ms Fowler said.

She was followed by Patricia Murphy who said she was left "shocked" when a leaflet promoting Mr Ross was dropped into her letter box at 8.10pm on Christmas Eve.

"I think it's odd and very bizarre...I think at a festive time, a family time, it is not appropriate," Ms Murphy said.

Another constituent, Tony Whelan, called the show to say he spotted Mr Ross in a Santa Claus hat "leaping out from gardens" on Christmas Eve.

Mr Whelan said he "didn't see anything wrong" with Mr Ross wishing people 'Happy Christmas'.

A separate caller who works with the elderly said many older people are frightened by someone calling after dark.

Other callers praised Mr Ross for visiting his constituents' houses.

Mr Ross said some people answered the door, while others looked out their windows and did not answer.

The minister said the "vast majority" of people were "delighted" to see him but a "little shocked".

He said the "only time" he can meet people is after dark as he is busy with ministerial duties during the day.

"I'm sorry if you think I did wrong but I just wanted to meet people," he said.

"I don't want to make a great virtue of it but it is my job to meet people," added the minister.

Irish Independent

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