ON THE CANVASS WITH ... MARGARET MURPHY O’MAHONY
FORGET about diamonds. A Fitbit has now become a girl’s best friend. Just ask Fianna Fáil candidate for Cork South West, Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, who has been pounding the pavements of her constituency in recent weeks as she seeks to retain the seat she won in 2016, becoming Cork South West’s first female TD.
This time around she has a running mate in county mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan, and the party are hopeful of winning two seats for Fianna Fáil.
By last Saturday morning, the Bandon-based TD had clocked up 24,000 steps and there were plenty more steps to be done as her campaign team descended on Kinsale.
It is indeed a family affair as Margaret’s husband Paddy rallies the troops in the cosiness of the White House Bar, before they all head off in different directions. The couple’s two sons, Philip and John, are also on board, as is Margaret’s brother Dan, who has travelled down from Galway to help with the canvass in Kinsale.
A quick cuppa, a group photo and last minute instructions from Paddy and we’re off down Pearse Street.
Heavy hitter, MEP Billy Kelleher, has come down to Kinsale to join in the canvass, along with his teenage daughter, Rebecca, who doesn’t mind pounding the streets with leaflets in hand.
Today, there are plenty of shoppers about, as well as some curious tourists and daytrippers who are wondering what we are all up to. It’s dry, too, which makes it all the easier.
We hit the shops along the street and meet the business owners who appear very happy to meet MEP Billy and TD Margaret.
The first concern to be addressed is by a local woman having a Saturday morning coffee in Spar. She admits that she never voted Fianna Fáil before but tells Margaret about parking issues near her home in the Glen.
Both Margaret and Billy listen intently and Margaret tells her she will pass on her concerns to local engineers.
It’s breakneck-speed canvassing and I wish I had my own Fitbit to see how many steps I’m doing on this whistlestop tour of the town.
There are plenty of handshakes, taking of leaflets and the response from people on the street and in various retail outlets is generally positive.
We pop into Salvi’s café, run by Fine Gael Cllr Marie O’Sullivan and she gives Margaret a big hug! Unfortunately, while it might be all sweetness and light between the rival parties, there’s still no time allowed for this reporter to sample the culinary delights, so we are off again before even a sugary crumb passes my lips.
This time we’re off to the busy Blue Haven Hotel, where one person tells Margaret about their health issues and being on a long waiting list to see a consultant. In fact, health, housing, roads and the pension age seem to be the real hot topics, according to Margaret.
Then it’s a quick run up to Smith’s SuperValu where some shoppers promise the TD their No 1. It’s nearly lunchtime now and all that walking is making me hungry. This canvassing lark is causing my stomach to rumble but an election is no place for wimps, so on we trundle.
We are up now to the impressive Cluain Mara estate outside the town where we join up with the rest of the team and canvass the remaining houses.
No major ‘red face’ moments on this Kinsale canvass – in general the locals seem to be very respectful of candidates, realising the tough job they have to do with just a few days left.
A tough job, and hungry work. It’s time for this reporter to find some sustenance for his own election (reporting) ‘campaign’.