“We want to keep f**kin’ Ireland, we want to keep our f**kin’ country,” one trader told Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald who yesterday canvassed on the old market street in her final push for a no vote on the Lisbon treaty.
The traders on Moore Street must be the most canvassed in the country, providing politicians with great photo opportunities during dull referenda campaigns and long-fought general elections.
And no one is more at home here than Mary Lou, with her party headquarters just around the corner, and her canvassers knowing Dublin’s north inner city like the back of their hands.
Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny, on the other hand, is not the most loved man on the street. “What did you say to that Kenny fella after Questions and Answers. Did you f**kin’ hit him? I hope you did,” a man told Mary Lou as he unloaded batches of toilet paper and boxes of Cadbury’s Dairy Milks from his van.
He was referring to a debate on RTÉ television on Monday night, in which the Fine Gael leader said it was “a bit Irish” for Sinn Féin to talk about the possible militarisation of the EU.
“It was ludicrous,” Mary Lou told the man with the van, “but I didn’t say anything to him afterwards, that’s just the way it is.”
Mary Lou marched on. “Howya May,” she said as she waved across the street to the lady at the fish stall.
“What in the name of God are we to do Mary Lou?” asked May, echoing the sentiments of almost the entire country on the confusion of the Lisbon debate.
The trader at the next stall was certain she was going to vote no. Would she tell her family to vote no too? “I said they f**kin’ better say no cos that’s what their mam told them to do,” she assured Mary Lou.
“Leave a few of those leaflets there love and I’ll get them out,” she said, offering pride of place on the crushed ice for the Sinn Féin no campaign leaflets, while a newspaper page featuring the face of our Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan, was used to wrap up some smelly fish.
The next voter was equally as enthused by Mary Lou’s campaign.
“I’m not very politically minded, but I know what’s going on here,” said the middle-aged woman.
“The three parties that are fighting all year long are coming together now all best of friends. There is something very suspicious going on there.”
Another man had the same suspicions: “Why are all the main parties supporting the government on this. This is their one chance to get into Brian Cowen, but instead they are going with him. I don’t get that.”
Mary Lou told him that “by and large all these big parties take the same view on things” adding that it was “partially laziness”.
A grandmother stopped on her way into the post office and said she was going to vote no.
“It’s all gobbledygook to me anyway. Cowen couldn’t even read it so how can he expect me to read it?” she asked.
“Then they tell us to read paragraph this or that, where in the name of God would we get the time to do that?”
When Mary Lou and her entourage finally made it to the other end of the Moore Street, onto Henry Street, a Polish TV crew started their vox pop to ask the Irish public their views on this huge event that would change the course of European history.
They first stuck a microphone in the face of a young man, in his early 20s who was hanging around to find out why there were television cameras around.
“May I ask you,” said the reporter, “how you are going to vote tomorrow and why?”
The young man looked around, a little confused, with his bottle of Lucozade in his hand. “Vote?” he said. “Is there an election on or somethin’?”