‘PAUL watched his votes pass to Holly in a most generous and dignified way.’
They were the words of Madeline McKeever – Holly’s mother – on Twitter. Generous and dignified are two words that fit Paul well. ‘Universally liked’ are two more.
It must have been hard to see 3,000 of his votes slip away in the form of transfers to Holly in the eighth count in Cork South West, but at that stage he was already out of the race for the third and final seat.
The 2020 General Election was Paul’s second attempt at taking a seat in Dáil Éireann. It came just nine months after a bruising local election in which he struggled to hold his seat on the West Cork Municipal District.
At the time, Sinn Féin was at the bottom of the barrel in terms of the opinion polls – a far cry from the party’s ground-breaking vote at the weekend.
In 2019, Paul was also handicapped by the redrawing of the municipal district boundaries. The boundary change was a geographical exercise designed to give every 5,000 to 6,000 residents one public representative, but it meant that Paul was now living in the Bandon-Kinsale area.
His decision to stand his ground and continue to serve the people of the West Cork Municipal District saw him prevail.
Standing in a general election can be a costly exercise, particularly for a young man, with a young family, a mortgage, and a demanding job as a quality manager with a Bandon-based firm. As for time off to carry out an extensive three-week campaign? That was annual leave.
Paul’s attitude and demeanour are all about getting the job done: he doesn’t really do negativity and the only time he gets what could be described as ‘cross’ is when Irish Water is up for discussion.
Nice guys don’t always finish last. His consideration, courtesy, and work ethic has earned him supporters within the body of Council and its administration.
Being ‘nice’ and a member of Sinn Féin has come up before. Sometimes, people say: ‘Paul’s a lovely lad for a Shinner.’
It’s probably not PC to say that, but given the media hubbub about David Cullinane’s ‘Up the Republic, up the RA’ at the Sinn Féin candidate’s celebrations in Waterford, it may be permissible now.
Then, of course, there’s Mary Lou McDonald’s quintessential quip: ‘I am not their mammy.’ But sometimes, just sometimes, doesn’t it take a mammy to offer words to the wise?