On Saturday I went on my first By-Election canvass since getting involved with Young Fine Gael. I was in Ratoath in Meath East canvassing for the Fine Gael Candidate Helen McEntee who is running for election to replace her father who tragically died before Christmas.
This canvass was different to any other canvass I had done. While I had travelled distances before to canvass, never have I had to travel long distances between houses!!! Yes it was a rural canvass!
Thankfully I was in good company as my friend Sinead, another city slicker like myself, was with me and I would like to think we managed it ably! There was also four members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party in the area, Minister Ciaran Cannon, Deputy Regina Doherty (who’s office was doing an amazing job organising us), Deputy Jerry Buttimer and Senator Colm Burke.
The fresh air, the animals, the smells, and getting in and out of the car so often took a bit of getting used to. Also the numerous holes, bumps and various other things I fell over meant I had an interesting day and slept on the way home! But I think I will definitely be better prepared for my next rural canvass if I have to do one in Cork South Central at the next election.
Now I was expecting to be lambasted out of it on the doors considering everything in the media about the current Government. While there was a lot of unhappiness about the current state of the country, many people understood that recovery takes time, and were waiting it out.
The canvass also reminded me of the inherit politeness of Irish people. While they may not agree with us, they would listen to us and engage and be surprised that we had travelled all the way from Cork to canvass for Helen.
One thing that struck me while up there was the professionalism of the campaign. When we arrived we were handed maps and told exactly where to go. There is a very efficient plan in place which will hopefully pay off on March 27th.
We of course weren’t the only canvass team in the area, Fianna Fail were out with Willie O’Dea canvassing for Sen. Thomas Byrne, Labour were out for Cllr Eoin Holmes, Sinn Fein were out for Darren O’Rourke and Direct Democracy Ireland were out for Ben Gilroy.
It was interesting at lunch time as Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein were all in the same place! Which led to some hilarious conversations as you can well imagine!
It is impossible to tell which way this vote will go, and you never really trust people when they tell you they are voting for your candidate, well you don’t when you have been canvassing as long as I have, but if they were telling the truth Helen has a very good chance of retaining her father’s seat.
Unfortunately I won’t get up to Meath again before the vote, so I am hoping that the people of Meath East will back Helen McEntee who is a young, capable and fantastic candidate and will ably represent the people of Meath East in Dáil Eireann.