Twins, targets, transitions all in a day’s walk!

February 6th, 2020 3:02 PM

By Emma Connolly

Senator Tim Lombard canvassing Gillian O'Sullivan and Paul 'The Barber' Mullaney at Hegarty's Centra and Post office in Ballinspittle. Right: Elsie O'Leary from Ballinspittle grilling the Senator at her front door. (Photos: Denis Boyle)

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THE environment, the Dail printer fiasco and the havoc that twins can bring to your house were the hot topics on doorsteps when Cork South West candidate FG Senator Tim Lombard canvassed the village of Ballinspittle.

Tim has previously served this area as a county councillor and while not residing in the area (he’s a dairy farmer in Minane Bridge), he’s well known.

The fact that he was accompanied by gregarious county councillor Marie O’Sullivan, a local, who seemed to be on first name terms with every man, woman, child and dog on the canvas, was a vital icebreaker though.

Just a stone’s throw from cosmopolitan Kinsale, which boasts several high profile environmental groups, not surprisingly this has seeped into the consciousness of Ballinspittle, which has its own refill store.

The topic came up several times on doorsteps on the chilly night Tim was out with his entourage.

A millennial put Tim on the spot over the party’s performance to date on environmental issues and how they intended meeting the country’s imminent climate targets.

A member of the Climate Action Committee in the Dail, Tim wasn’t short on statistics but, non-plussed, the young man further asked: ‘Do you not think you’re under-estimating how challenging it will be to meet those targets?’

He also asked why the party had waited until now to talk about a ‘just transition’ for the agri sector, when wild fires were raging in Australia.

Despite a robust grilling, Tim insisted he could talk all night about the issue, but the young man said it was ‘too cold!’

Tim admitted he’d had two or three ‘nasty’ experiences on the doorsteps during this campaign, but felt these individuals were more ‘angry at life’ than anything else.

And on our brisk loop around the village, he only encountered one very definite ‘no’ voter. A senior lady answered his knock with: ‘I’m telling you straight, I won’t be voting for you. You say you’ll do everything, but it’s all talk.’

Patrick Cahalane raised the issue of the Dail printer and the waste of public money when it was so badly needed for schools and hospitals.

‘It doesn’t matter who gets into power, this foolish spending will have to be looked at,’ he said. Tim agreed there was a lack of accountability that would need to be examined.

Another man, angry at the speed of vehicles passing his house, asked Tim what could be done.

‘I can’t even keep a dog or cat here,’ he said explaining that cars were going ‘100 miles an hour’ and ignoring the 50-mile limit. ‘You’re all just suggestions and you do nothing,’ he said.

Tim and Marie pledged to follow up the issue with both an engineer and the gardaí.

A young woman asked him to ‘do something about the homelessness’ but his team said it was coming up more as a social issue, than a local one.

Earlier Tim popped into the busy Centra store where he met Paul Mullaney, a barber who cuts Tim’s three-year-old twins’ hair. Not an easy task, it was generally agreed!

And later, a household they canvassed was home to young twin boys, which sparked a lively chat between their mum and Tim, with both agreeing twin boys create havoc!

Himself and running mate Karen Coakley have split the constituency in two, from Clonakilty east and west, to give them a population of 21,000 each to canvas.

By and large, though, Tim says he isn’t seeing the backlash against the government that’s being felt elsewhere. Although he admits that areas he’s canvassing like Kinsale may be not be typical.

There are about 90 people on his team, including his 71-year-old mother who that day was out canvassing Courtmacsherry.

Other siblings, including his brother, Cllr Aidan, are part of the eight teams on the road for him with Tim himself being ‘shared around.’

Several phone calls are exchanged with team members as we canter around the village.

But as we take our leave, there’s talk of taking a break in Hurley’s pub for a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate before heading to Kinsale and finishing up with their nightly phone de-briefing. And, of course, planning to do it all again the next day.

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