Neil Michael: Campaign never stops for Healy-Raes — even during counts

Neil Michael: Campaign never stops for Healy-Raes — even during counts
Brothers Michael and Danny Healy-Rae celebrate Danny retaining his Dáil seat in Kerry. His daughter Maura hit back at critics of thefamily in a video yesterday, saying: ‘Dublin doesn’t always elect superstars.’ Picture: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

If ever there was an illustration of the power of the Healy-Raes in Kerry, it wasn’t just the convincing — and some might say inevitable — vote they received.

It was what was happening a few short hours before the counter centre opened yesterday morning, and well out of sight of the media.

The day before, two things happened — Danny Healy-Rae gave a controversial interview to Virgin Media in which he said “to hell with the planet”.

The second thing that happened yesterday — but of less interest to people outside Kerry — was the collapse of a section of the R569 between Kilgarvan village and Killarney.

Green Party candidate Cleo Murphy suggested in a heated row in the count centre later yesterday between herself and known sceptic Danny Healy-Rae that this was as a result of climate change.

He denied it, and simply blamed the collapse on Storm Ciara.

But while it is not known what any of the other candidates or elected representatives did, it has emerged the Healy-Raes were quietly arranging to get food supplies into areas cut off by the road closure.

Danny’s son Johnny arranged a plan with the delivery driver of a large articulated lorry that normally supplies food to supermarkets in Kerry via the closed route.

He and various Healy-Rae workers arranged a route through a small winding B route to avoid the estimated 120 km-plus detour needed to reach Kenmare.

A small fleet of Healy-Rae vans was assigned to escort the truck and clear traffic out of the way.

The story serves as a reminder that — as Micheal Healy-Rae said in interviews after he was elected — his next election campaign began the moment he was elected.

If the comments on Virgin Media raised eyebrows, so too did Danny’s subsequent apology yesterday.

Nobody expected him to do it, although it's unlikely to do much to calm his and his family’s detractors, who his daughter Maura addressed in a video yesterday.

Angry at the way people, mostly from Dublin, like to poke fun at the Healy-Raes, she laughed as she pointed out:

Dublin doesn’t always elect superstars.

Away from all the climate change fuss, Danny’s brother was busy himself yesterday while at the count centre in Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre.

Two sets of schoolchildren came to visit, and were shown around inside the main counting hub by their teachers.

The one TD seen addressing them as they huddled attentively around him was — yeps, you guessed it — Michael Healy-Rae.

“The man is incorrigible,” grunted someone looking on, who said later they were a Fine Gael party worker.

They were less talkative when asked why their newly elected TD had spent so little time at the counte centre during the past few days.

Indeed, Brendan Griffin was conspicuous by his absence.

He showed up late on Sunday and was around for a short amount of time on Monday to pose for photos and make his acceptance address to the exhausted party faithful assembled at the count centre.

Also keeping a low profile at the beginning was newly elected Norma Foley of Fianna Fáil.

She, too, spent most of Sunday away from the count centre, but when she did turn up — which was at around 7pm — she admitted that she hadn’t spoken to John Brassil.

He himself had left the count centre by midday, for understandable reasons.

Indeed, when this reporter approached him for a comment, he admitted to being too emotional to talk.

You’d think a call from the person his own party put up to run with him and who ended up running away with the seat might have been appropriate.

Yesterday, you might also be forgiven for thinking that he would be thethe first person she would shake hands with as she walked towards an assembled group of party workers, ready and waiting to hoist her up after her victory over him was announced.

She doesn’t appear to have spotted him at all as he stood just a few feet away from her.

Instead, it was he who stepped forward and shook her hand.

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