Diary of a Canvasser – Entry 1 #MarRef

2015-03-21 12.10.26So the Marriage Equality Referendum is starting to get going campaign wise. While we are 62 days out from the referendum on May 22nd, some campaigns have started.

YesEquality Cork is one of the groups that have started, with canvassing beginning on St Patricks Day before the Parade  and evening canvasses also.

Today was my first proper canvass with YesEquality Cork (as I had to go to work on St Patricks Day). We were joined by the INTO LGBT Group and Teachers for Marriage Equality as we set up shop on Paul St.

2015-03-21 12.11.55

As the sun was shining everyone was in a good mood. We had a great crew of canvassers. We met a varied group of people and the majority were quite positive towards us.  But with 62 days to we cannot be presumptive in any way, shape or form.

One lady stood out to me today. She was 86 and made a bee-line for me. I must admit I was expecting an ear bashing. Instead it turns out she was Women’s rights campaigner for all her life. She strongly believed in Equality and as a person on the ‘Left’ she would definitely be voting Yes on May 22nd! Not just for herself and her generation, but also her 23 year old grandson who is Gay! Now that is words a canvasser loves to hear!

canvass equality
Author with 86 year old equality campaigner, photo courtesy of Ken Curtin.

 

For many young people we canvassed it was an open and shut case, they were voting yes, no question about it. Same with two ladies who worked in a cafe who called me over to say they were having a rant and “people should be allowed do want they want”. They were delighted to see us out campaigning for it.

We did of course come across a few No voters, who it must be said, were very respectful, apart from one Lady who decided to shout “No, you should be ashamed of yourselves”. But I was pleasantly surprised we didn’t hear a lot of that!

There is a still a long way to go to ensure that this referendum passes on May 22nd, but today for me was a great start!

If you want to get involved with the campaign, join your local YesEquality Group, and if there isnt one locally why not get a group together and set one up! Its by working together we will ensure Equality for all couples in Ireland!

For those of you unsure what the #MarRef in the title is about, it is shorthand being used on Twitter.

Diary of a Canvasser – By-Election Edition

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.

Diary of A Canvasser: #Aras11 Edition

Mary Davis Sticker

As with every election campaign, I am out on the streets and talking up my preferred candidate or cause. This time out, just like with Lisbon 2, I have left Fine Gael behind to support a different group.

If you weren’t aware, I am supporting Mary Davis for the Irish Presidency. There are many reasons for this. but I think she is best placed to represent Ireland abroad and to engage Irish communities at home.

On Friday I went on my first canvass for the presidential election. We decided to canvass the Cork City V Finn Harps match in Turners Cross. The last time I canvassed this I didnt get a great reaction as we were campaigning for a yes vote for Lisbon 2, so I was a litte apprehensive, but boy did i get a surprise.

The reaction for Mary Davis was amazing, I have never canvassed for a candidate and got such a positive response.  Granted a few people were saying ” We dont need a president” etc and a few had made up their minds, but overall a lot of people were interested in Mary and contemplated voting for her.  A few people of course wasn’t sure who she was but once we said she was an independent candidate they did become interested.

There was a bit of slagging about the “Airburshing/Image enhancement” but someone show me a candidates poster which hasn’t been airbrushed!

It will be interesting to see how the campaign develops after the debates and as the candidates get more coverage.

I will of course continue the Diary as the campaign continues

Diary of a Canvasser: Its all over

Generic FG Poster

So that last week of the flew by and before I knew it I was voting an tallying the results! I had a very long weekend awaiting results, but for a change in a national election, the results had me and others shocked. We knew Fine Gael were going to do well, but we didnt think we were going to do *this* well.

It was amazing to see Fine Gael Candidates who I had met over the years topping the poll and others coming in closely with their team to show that Fine Gael really can manage the vote.

In Cork South Central I was delighted that Simon Coveney and Jerry Buttimer were elected to the 31st Dáil. I was disappointed that Deirdre Clune lost her seat, but we also knew that Michael McGrath of Fianna Fail was going to be a hard candidate to beat.

We have no time to rest on our laurels. Fianna Fail are going to be fighting back and we need to be ready for them for when the local elections come around in 2014.

I wonder who I will be canvassing for then!

 

Interview on the election and prediction time

Martin and Buttimer

The last few Thursdays I have been interviewed for a Radio show. This is this mornings interview where they made me make a prediction on the election. I made the following prediction:

  • Fine Gael 79
  • Labour 35
  • Fianna Fail 22
  • Sinn Fein 16
  • Greens 0
  • Independents 15

Whats your prediction?

I will be responding to the election on the show on Monday. Tune in around 9:30am

thurs 24 feb show stephen spillane

Diary of a Canvasser: Enda Comes to Town

I did not expect to be adding to my diary today, but last night I got a text to say that Enda Kenny would be campaigning in Cork today. So I got up early to head into town to meet up the leaders tour.

The rain was terrible, and the tour and run over time in the Simon Community and St Johns College so when Enda arrived we went to the English Market, that favourite of campaign stops when on a tour of Cork. There was a large crowd of supporters from both Cork City constiuencies and a number of candidates were also in attendance in cluding Pat Burtion, Jerry Buttimer and Simon Coveney.

It was an interesting morning as you had the usual Cork characters out in force ranting and raving about the SAS to the price of wine. Yes, I am serious I was lucky enough to be standing in front of this particular person.

There was also a protest by those against blood sports, what is missing from that report is that when Enda drove off the protestor shouted

“You are against blood sports don’t vote for the Green Party”

That of course led to cheers from us and a look of complete embarrassment on his face!

An interesting morning was had.

Diary of a Canvasser: Dawn to Dusk (and beyond!)

Election Poster

I have finished another week on the door steps and this week saw me canvassing for Jerry Buttimer and Deridre Clune.

On Monday we were out canvassing in Ballinlough for Jerry Buttimer and we got a good response. I got my first local issue on the door that night. Someone was giving out about City Council and the pothole outside their house. This was no ordinary pothole though! It was huge! So she had to complain! Thankfully Enda had decided to turn up to the debate on Monday so there was no questioning like the last time.

On Tuesday I was out in Ballinlough, again out canvassing for Jerry. This was the day that the Irish Language Policy really became an issue on the doors. I only got it the once, and I managed to canvass that vote as Gaeilge! I was very proud of myself! Enda’s debate performance was raised and it certainly impressed people.

Yesterday was my longest day of canvassing yet. It started with being collected at 7:45am by Jerry to canvass early morning traffic! This is a hard canvass as it can be difficult to interact with people, but people were receptive and will to take the literature.

After a coffee break we were down in Mahon at lunch time. It was a hit and miss area as a lot of homes were empty with the time of day and all that. But people were quite open to being engaged with. After another coffee break in Mahon Community Centre we headed out to Douglas to do a few estates. At this point I was drenched to the bone and my knee was acting up. I did canvass a number of houses, and got a good response, (limping always brings out the sympathy!) by the end of the canvass I was told to stay in the car cause I was in too much pain!

After going home and drying and dosing myself I headed out again (glutton for punishment I am!) This time to Donnybrook with Deirdre Clune. We got an amazing response and quite a number of people wanted to engage with us. Which is good. There was questions on one-party government, jobs, public sector, tax, education and student nurses. A really interesting canvass. I finally finished canvassing at 9pm! Thats makes it at about 13 hours of canvassing! Not to be done in rain I will advise! I have at least 2 more full days planned next week! Its going to be a long week!

Tomorrow is the last week of canvassing and it will be a case of canvassing up until the last moment. So dont be surprised if there is no update until election day! and remember be nice to canvassers!

Diary of a Canvasser: Where’s Enda?

Enda Kenny
Image via Wikipedia

So we come to the end of the second week of the Election campaign and its been a funny old week on the doors. I was out of the country until Monday so I was only out two nights this week.

On Tuesday I was out canvassing with Simon Coveney in Mount Oval. This was the night of the TV3 debate in which Enda Kenny had decided not to take part in. This was one of the recurring themes on the door that night. Some of it was light-hearted ribbing, others were more serious. Some were brought around, others remained to be convinced.

On Wednesday I was out with Jerry Buttimer in Carrigaline. After encountering a Fianna Fail canvassing team in the estate we had to make a hasty retreat to another estate. The rules of engagement are clear on this, if another team are there before you, you pull out.

Again the issue of Enda came up on the doors, but no one passed comment on the performance of the other leaders. Maybe Monday’s debate on RTÉ will change that.

Apart from Enda the same issues are still coming up on the doors. Health, jobs, public service and political reform.

No Canvassing took place in Cork yesterday following the tragedy at Cork Airport.

Diary of a Canvasser: 3 Nights, 3 Candidates

Cork South Central (Dáil Éireann constituency)
Image via Wikipedia

This week I have been sharing my time with the three Fine Gael candidates in Cork South Central. I find that is the best and easiest thing to do. It also broadens your canvassing experience!

Monday

So on Monday I was out with Deirdre Clune. We were canvassing in Donnybrook in Douglas. I was paired with Fiona and it seemed that we got every nice person in the estate! We had lovely chats with people who wanted to talk about disability, social welfare and of course the leadership of Fine Gael, which is a bit of a recurring issue!

There was one house with a bunch of lads and we ended up talking to a few of them and one of the was a Fine Gaeler from Wexford! So all in all a good canvass with a good response and again, people seemed more interested in national issues. That as I have said previously is a good thing in my book.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, after we finally found out when the election would actually be held, I went canvassing with Jerry Buttimer in Turners Cross. Here I was invited into a house for the first time! (yes, it was someone I knew but still!) The reaction was very positive towards change.. I would hate to have been a Fianna Failer knocking on any of those doors. Again the issues that came up were national issues. Higher Education funding and Social Welfare policy was brought up on doors and people were genuinely interested in the policies that Fine Gael had. I must say I am enjoying this campaign!

Wednesday

On Wednesday I went out with Simon Coveney in Ballyphehane. This is an area I knew well as it is where I went to school and have plenty of friends living in the area. It was also a fairly well established area. Again I noticed it was mainly national issues with the Economy being the major issue. Another thing I noticed was the number of people who did not know who they were going to vote for. This was extremely true of elderly people who said they would have normally voted for Fianna Fáil and now don’t know who to vote for. Its going to be interesting to see if they will change their votes on election day.

So all in all 3 nights which were very interesting and I didnt mix up candidate names too often! I am off to Paris now for the weekend so I won’t be on the canvass  trail until next Tuesday.

Diary of A Canvasser: Day Out, Day In

An image of the Cork College of Commerce, a Fu...
Image via Wikipedia

Well with election coming up, canvass teams have swung into full operation down here in Cork. Last week for the first time I both ended and started my day with a canvass!

This would be something that would seem to be a recurring theme for the election. There goes my lie-ins!

Last Monday (24th January) we canvassed an area of Douglas with Jerry Buttimer. We had a very good response and covered great ground. The issues on the doorstep where very detailed which sent us scurrying for policy documents and the candidate when we weren’t sure of exact details.

This is something I have noticed this time around. People are showing huge interest in the actual policies of the parties! FairCare, newERA and Re-inventing Government all came up on the doors. People seem to moving away from personality politics and hopefully, they will vote for the policies that they wish to be implemented.

The next morning saw me up early, at 7am! To be ready to be collected at 8am for canvassing again with Jerry Buttimer at Union Quay Bridge outside my college. This was the first time I had done an early morning canvass during an general election, I did a few during Lisbon, but that was a different kettle of fish.

The people that morning were a mix of students and professionals and it was a mixed response. Well some people just aren’t morning people. It was fun to canvass one of my teachers who was Dan Boyle’s campaign manager during the European Elections!

All in all in was a good morning and evening. Thank god I am off this weekend to cathc up on my beauty sleep!