Friday 27 April 2018

Shades of Ali as super-confident Frank hits seaside town with fighting talk

Eamon Gilmore was canvassing for support in Donegal yesterday. Photo: Tony Gavin
Eamon Gilmore was canvassing for support in Donegal yesterday. Photo: Tony Gavin

Anita Guidera

IT'S no coincidence that Frank McBrearty names Muhammad Ali as the special guest he would most like to have present at his birthday party.

The burly publican from Raphoe, Co Donegal, even seems to have picked up a few canvassing tips from the champion boxer whose inflated sense of self-belief, inside and outside the ring turned him into an international celebrity.

There's more than a touch of the Ali in the way the Labour candidate talks up his chances of winning the Donegal South-West by election. At various stages during the campaign he has declared: "I am the person who will fight for the people of Donegal"; and that he's "the one who will put honesty back into politics".

Unsurprisingly, he considers himself "the best man for the job". Furthermore, not only will he "win this by election" but he "will win the general election" also.

Campaigning the streets of the seaside town of Bundoran yesterday with party leader Eamon Gilmore that confidence was there in abundance. It may be a Fianna Fail stronghold, and he may be behind in the polls, but nothing was holding him as he charged over and back the sleepy main street, introducing himself to everyone in his path.

Not that he needed much introduction. He was more recognisable to many than Eamon Gilmore.

"Oh I know you all right. I saw you on television last night," said one shopper.

She asks him where he was from and whether he knew any McBreartys in Kilcar, in the south west of the constituency.

"Some of them would be related to me," he replies, quick as a light, before urging her to get in contact with him if she ever needed any help.

"You need someone like me to stand up for you. I'm from a business background," he tells the slightly frightened looking young woman behind the counter.

With remarkable ease, he attempts to find a point of connection with everyone he meets.

In Surfworld, he told owner and champion surfer Richie Fitzgerald that he is a cousin of Anne Marie Ward, the long distance swimmer from Ards who recently swam the English Channel.

He added that he does a bit of scuba-diving himself.

In Lidl he told the young mother of twins that his father is a twin.

But despite his best efforts, he wasn't universally well received.

An elderly couple politely but firmly refused to accept his leaflet.

"I've already made an opinion and you don't want to know it," said an older man, queuing at the check-out in Lidl.

"I saw you on television last night and I heard you," laughed one lady, a little ominously.

An unflappable Frank McBrearty pressed on, promising to be available around the clock to help people with their problems.

And he wasn't just confining it to constituents. He assured the lady from north Leitrim that he helped people from all over Ireland.

Hovering nearby was his mobile campaign office, a camper van with loud halers blasting rousing songs such as Tracy Chapman's 'Talking About a Revolution' and Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best' through the near deserted streets.

"Best of luck to you" shouted one woman, while another took time to sympathise with Eamon Gilmore over the state of the country.

"We need change badly. The country is in a mess, big time," she said.

Irish Independent

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