“We have to give the electorate hope”

He is a renowned campaigner and it is widely expected that he will hold on to his seat, but Fine Gael’s James Bannon is taking nothing for granted in Election 2011.

He is a renowned campaigner and it is widely expected that he will hold on to his seat, but Fine Gael’s James Bannon is taking nothing for granted in Election 2011.

“The only thing I don’t like seeing is the feeling that my seat is a safe one. It is not a safe seat.” Deputy Bannon said, as he took a few minutes out of his gruelling canvassing campaign on Friday. He was in Ballymahon to attend the opening of the new library in the town, a positive news story for the south Longford town.

“Opinion polls are just that, opinion polls. On the morning of the February 25, no vote is a certainty. It is extremely important that we if we are to achieve an overall majority and do as well as the polls indicate, we must work from 7am until 10pm at night to ensure that every possible voter has gone out to vote and had voted for the Fine Gael party.”

Instead Deputy Bannon said he wants to focus on the most important issue of this campaign.

“I have said on previous occasions there are nearly 16,000 people unemployed in Longford/Westmeath and we have a plan to create jobs in Longford/Westmeath,” he said.

In keeping with the issues of most other constituencies, jobs, health and education remain the chosen topic of conversation on the doorsteps.

“We have to give people hope, that is what they are crying out for,” he said, pointing to re-establishing credit channels for small businesses, tackling the county’s ghost estates and re-energising agriculture as part of his election blueprint. He highlighted the party’s five point plan which has the tagline ‘Let’s Get Ireland Working’.

Deputy Bannon accepted two and not three seats in the constituency remained the most likely outcome for the party.

“I would love to see all three candidates getting elected, but you have to be realistic in politics and I am quite confident we will win two seats in the forthcoming general election,” he said.

“There’s no doubt there is a core Fianna Fail vote in Longford, but I believe that a lot of people are so dejected now that people two years ago who might have voted Fianna Fail have now changed their mind.”

In reference to his recent comment on a Shannonside FM debate about other politicians employing family members, Deputy Bannon stated: “Anyone’s family members are entitled to work on a campaign. What I referred to was that I was the only politician in the constituency that had no family member paid out of the public purse for assisting me in parliament.

“Any family members that work for me, do so on a voluntary basis. There is no family member (of mine) getting a payment from the houses of the Oireachtas.”

With that, he left to hit the campaign trail once again with his dedicated and hard-working team, anxious to highlight Fine Gael’s five point plan and the fact that there is no such thing as a safe seat.