19 May, 2009

Ups and downs on the campaign trail

"Hey Mister"
-"Just a second"
I'm at the top of a ladder, half-way up a pole trying to feed one plastic poster-tie into another on Deirdre de Burca's poster. Finally it catches and I pull it tight.
-"I'll be with you in a second!"
I thread the plastic tie through the lower part of the poster. Once you've locked the poster-tie in, it can resist gale force winds, if done correctly. I clamp the end of plastic tie between my teeth and pull hard. Not exactly ideal from a health and safety perspective, but it does the job. Finally, I finish securing the poster, and climb down the ladder.
-"Mister, your poster is upside-down.
I walk back to the car, and take out a kitchen knife reserved for these occasions. It's started to rain again, the kind of rain we've had for the last two weeks - first one or two drops, then a downpour. Back up the ladder, knife in my mouth doing a fair impersonation of Captain Jack Sparrow getting ready to repel boarders. I'm at the top of the ladder, and spend a few minutes trying to ease the poster ties apart with the tip of the knife so that I can re-use the ties. Eventually I give up and attempt to sever the tie to release the poster. As I cut through the plastic there's a loud bang and a bright yellow flash. The knife falls and I slide down the ladder faster than a sailor in one of those World War Two films just after the torpedo hits the ship. Unlike our candidate Martin Hogan a few weeks ago, I'm still in one piece. I look back up the lamp post and as I do there's another flash and a puff of smoke from the electrical junction box half-way up the pole.
"Hey Mister"
"That's deadly, it is, can you do it again?"
It's time to move on, and find a safer lamppost for Deirdre de Burca's poster.


That photo shows Cllr. Gene Feighery and Cllr. Ruairí Holohan on the stump on the Blackrock Bypass last Friday. They're giving out Hazel tree nuts and saplings as part of Ruairí's 'Brown Envelope' campaign. It's brought a smile to people's faces, and is the kind of soft sell that works well as part of wider campaign.
Ruairí also has a good pitch at the doors:

"Look, I'm not going to talk about the recession, I can talk to you about Home Energy Grants, or the Gardening course that we're running in Blackrock.

It seems to be working well, by all accounts. He also told our monthly Green Party meeting in Dún Laoghaire that he's been dropping apple pies in to every convent in his ward with 'Green Party' written on the plate, and then drops by to collect the plate a few days later, and tries to persuade them to use their land for allotments.

Cllr. Gene Feighery, represents Dún Laoghaire, and has been pointing out that the Greens are good on planning. Gene was a founder member of CRSOS (the Combined Residents to Save Open Space) an NGO that campaigned to prevent the rezoning of the Dún Laoghaire Golf Club lands. It may well be that this green lung within Dún Laoghaire won't be developed in the short term, but it is important that a Local Area Plan is drawn up to guide development in the town. She's often seen in her electric car around the town.

Tom Kivlehan
is our councillor for Shankill and Ballybrack. He dragged me up to Sandyford Luas stop a few weeks ago to take a photo beside a Luas so that we could photoshop 'Sandyford' out of the sign and substitute 'Shankill'. When the Luas gets to Cherrywood early next year, Tom will be clearing the scrub off the old Harcourt Street line to make sure it gets to Shankill and Bray a few years later. On a more practical note, he succeeded in getting the Council to shift their electricity supply to a renewable supplier.


It may be a European and Local Election, but it is clear that many are thinking about national issues as they consider how to cast their vote in two weeks time. Few people disagree that John Gormley and Eamon Ryan are doing good work in their respective ministries. Tough decisions are being taken to ensure Ireland weathers the worldwide economic storm. Already it seems clear that the recovery is green. New jobs are being created in energy, in construction, in transport and in agriculture. Many of these are in areas of the sustainability sector that didn't exist a few years ago, or have a green hue to their complexion. One thing is sure though, the economy that was too dependent on laissez-faire construction and SUV car sales has changed, and the new green collar jobs will shape Ireland's future.


Thanks to all you new media people for dropping in to the Oireachtas last week. My relatively tidy office that some of you saw last week has again disintegrated into squalor. I think both John Gormley, Deirdre de Burca and Damian Connon enjoyed the opportunity to talk candidly about their work. Thanks Dharragh Boyle,
Mark Coughlan, Damian Mulley, Gav Reilly, Thaedydal and others for coming along. You all seem to have enjoyed your experience of the madness that constitutes the Houses of the Oireachtas.