‘Blueshirts and provos’ targets for canvassers

FIANNA FÁIL members should not ignore the houses of “blueshirts” or “provos” when canvassing for votes, Junior Minister Brendan Smith told delegates.

Mr Smith said it had been “a trait” of Fianna Fáil in the past to ignore some households when canvassing. “We used to pass by certain houses. We’d say: ‘They’re blueshirts, they’re provos, or whatever; there’s no point going to them.’ That’s not on today,” he said.

“We cannot go past any door, even if they’re committed activists belonging to some other political party that we know, I think it’s basic good manners in itself to rap the door and ask for a preference vote or ask for support.”

Mr Smith said “old loyalties to parties” had changed and young people no longer necessarily follow their parents’ voting patterns.

“That link to the past has been broken in a lot of instances, and we just cannot assume that a household that was our way or the other way in the past, that they still vote that political way.

“It’s absolutely essential that we get away from the idea of saying: ‘It’s a waste of time calling to that house’.

“It’s one message I know that all of us have to instil in ourselves more and more that every door has to be knocked,” said Mr Smith, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, during a session on conferencing held as an adjunct to the main ard fheis.

He told the 30 delegates: “Naturally, a person going out to canvass can’t have drink on them. The smell of drink is fatal. It’s not on, full stop.”

Another mistake was asking a young adult if their mother or father was home.

“It’s a fatal mistake, so it is,” Mr Smith said, telling delegates that in many cases the young adult may be registered to vote themselves.

FF candidates

1. Dara Calleary: Mayo

His father and grandfather were both Fianna Fáil TDs, so Mr Calleary will benefit from instant surname recognition on the doorsteps of North Mayo. With the two Fine Gael heavyweights, Enda Kenny and Michael Ring, expected to take the first two seats, the extended Fianna Fáil family of sitting TD John Carty, Frank Chambers, Mr Calleary and former Fianna Fáil member Beverly Cooper Flynn will battle it out for the remaining three seats with Independent TD Jerry Cowley.

2. Michael McGrath: Cork South Central

Having topped the Cork County Council election poll on his first attempt in 2004, Mr McGrath will hope to gain transfers from of sitting FF TDs John Dennehy and Minister Micheal Martin. His recent survey on cocaine use generated major publicity.

3. Christy O’Sullivan: Cork South West

Until 2002, Cork South West was one of the few constituencies where Fianna Fáil had never taken a second seat. With ex-minister Joe Walsh stepping down, sitting Fianna Fáil TD Denis O’Donovan will now be joined by Cllr O’Sullivan — who gained considerable support for campaigning on fishing and farming industries.

4. Siobhan Ambrose: Tipperary South

With former education minister, Noel Davern, not contesting the election in Tipperary South for the first time since 1969, the party is running three candidates in the hope of retaining his seat. Senator Martin Mansergh is favourite to win.

5. Sean Connick: Wexford

With recent polls showing New Ross-based councillor, Mr Connick, polling at 8%, he is the party’s best hope for taking a second seat in Wexford.

6. Lisa McDonald: Wexford

Having lobbied for a “bad weather allowance” to encourage fishermen to stay at home in dangerous conditions, Ms McDonald is expected to make the plight of fishermen her central election issue.

7. Margaret Conlon: Cavan/Monaghan

As the most recent and final addition to the Fianna Fáil ticket, Ms Conlon will face constant doorstep questioning on the Government’s controversial plans for Monaghan Hospital. A member of Fianna Fáil for 25 years, she will hope to attract votes from the party faithful.

8. Norma Foley: Kerry North

Elected to Kerry County Council in 2004, this is Ms Foley’s first general election outing. As a former teacher, she hopes to campaign for improved schools, health services in Kerry General Hospital and better transport links.

9. Michael Crowe: Galway West

After topping the poll in the Galway City Council local elections as an Independent candidate in 2004, Cllr Crowe joined Fianna Fáil last August. But with the two sitting Fianna Fáil TDs Frank Fahey and Eamon O’Cuiv likely to be returned, he will struggle to win a third seat.

10. John O’Leary: Dublin North

As captain of the last Dublin team to win an All-Ireland, Mr O’Leary is something of a legend among GAA fans and will pick up votes on the strength of that. In his efforts to retain the seat of Fianna Fáil’s Jim Glennon, who is not contesting this election, Mr O’Leary will have to convince the electorate that, despite his political inexperience, he can deliver for Dublin North.

11. Chris Andrews: Dublin South East

Mr Andrews will draw votes on the strength of his surname as his father, Niall, is also a former TD and MEP and his uncle, David, Chairman of the Irish Red Cross and former minister for foreign affairs.

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