Glad to hear that the Octopus in the fish-tank in 64Wine in Glasthule gave me a scratch yesterday. Not quite sure if it had fully grappled with the vagaries of the proportional representation, but hopefully it understood that I'm fighting for the last seat in Dún Laoghaire, and that I need every vote that I can get.
I find that I'm reaching out to more liberal and progressive voters who are disenchanted with Fine Gael and Labour. I admired Fine Gael back when Garret Fitzgerald, Mary Banotti and Gemma Hussey were in the Dáil. However in recent years there's been a swing to the right in that Party that many voters I meet are unhappy with, and are happy to discuss with me on their door-steps. They want a Fine Gael that is socially liberal and that is prepared to legislate for Ireland's changing families in 2011. Lucinda Creighton's rejection of marriage equality, and some of Leo Varadker's wilder utterings may be a sign of things to come, should they be in government. I'm hoping some of them may vote green instead.
In Labour there's also a conservative streak, but it comes from the opposite end of the spectrum. It's coming from the old-style Labour Party that's unwilling to embrace change. Demarcation and protectionism have damaged Labour, and while many in that Party understand the need to respond to the needs of small businesses, and reform work practices in the State sector, there's still a long way to go. The financial contributions to Labour from Unions can only affect their policies. In recent times for instance, Labour argued against streamlining Dublin Bus services to better serve the city's needs. Reforms ARE required to do more with less, and reflect the modern city's requirements. In recent days ICTU's analysis of our election manifesto seriously misrepresented our policies. For ICTU to suggest in their analysis that the Greens favour "light touch regulation and low personal taxation" is absurd when we brought in tough independent regulators like Patrick Honohan and Matthew Elderfield. It's also worth reminding people that Labour proposed a 2% cut in income tax back in 2007, but the Green Party did not propose such reductions. I'm also a bit disenchanted with Labour advertising trucks and cars trundling around Dún Laoghaire for the last few weeks, at a time when Labour says that they're serious about tackling climate change. Perhaps the Greens can fill that space
Yesterday was a long day. It started with the dawn canvass at Dalkey DART Station. Birdsong and construction noise from road improvements accompanied the chat with early-morning commuters heading towards town.
Headed down to the Select Stores just after nine for a cuppa with my sister, and in came Cllr. Stephen Fitzpatrick and Senator Ivana Bacik a few minutes later. We swapped stories of sore limbs and encounters from the campaign trail.
Back to my office on Patrick Street in Dún Laoghaire for a look at the notice board to see what the rest of the day consisted of. Got distracted by replying to emails, and never got to write a press release about the unfolding events in Libya and elsewhere. Still hoping that Muammar Gaddafi exits the stage and that democracy prevails.
Dragged a window-box full of daffodils onto the desk behind me just in time for an hour of an online canvass, part of our 'ask a green day'. Questions ranged from oil and gas taxes to planning issues to civil partnership. Hopefully I got to answer most of what was fired at me.
Headed up to Blackrock and grabbed a sandwich at the Lazy Days Cafe (I wish!) before heading out for the afternoon canvass around Obelisk Avenue. Met a lot of undecided voters keen to debate their choices. People are risk averse, but want radical change, and I argued the case for voting green, emphasising the need to prioritise education and foster the green economy.
Afterwards I headed into St. Vincents Hospital and met up with fellow green candidate Oisín Ó hAlmhain. Oisín's a pharmacist, and we discussed health care issues with a voter who spoke with us about reforms in the HSE
Back to Sandycove to meet residents concerned about a derelict site where parts of a hoarding are falling over onto the footpath. I pointed out the options available to tackle the issue, and we agreed that the Council should take action under the 1990 Derelict Sites Act to make the land safe. I gave them a copy of the Unfinished Developments Manual which I worked on in my time as Minister of State in dealing with Ghost estates. I'll chase that up with the Council in the morning.
There was time for another quick food stop in Dún Laoghaire, before heading back out again with a fantastic team of canvassers off Newtownpark Avenue. We split into three teams, to cover as much ground as possible between the rain showers. People want change in the Universal Social Charge, PRSI, and are worried about rising fuel prices.
I looked at my watch, realized it was after nine and headed up to Sandyford. I caught the end of the Southside Travellers Election Evening and we discussed school drop-out rates, the wishes of Travellers separate ethnicity to be recognised, as well as the nuts and bolts of medical card entitlement.
Heading home I listened to the three way leaders debate on the radio, and had a quick chat with Senator Mark Dearey about events in Libya. We'll get that statement out in the morning.
That's a snap-shot of the campaign so far. I'm looking forward to some rest on Polling Day