“Peter, there’s one thing I’ll ask of you. Fight for our young people. Try and keep them at home and try and improve the standard of living for them...We have the finest young people in the world.” These were the words of Drumlish resident Liam Forde when Fianna Fail TD Peter Kelly came canvassing to his door this week.
Mr Forde went on to remark upon the generous pensions that retiring ministers will now enjoy.
“I’ll be honest with you, Peter. I know your family all my life as you know yourself but there’s too much money been squandered. I don’t see the purpose of giving Mary Harney €300,000 and her walking out of her job and €140,000 per year pension. That doesn’t add up now when we have young people going away with no work. There’s people on the breadline and there’s people starving in this country,” he said.
There is little doubt that this is a difficult election campaign for all Fianna Fail candidates including Peter Kelly who is fighting to retain his seat in the Longford Westmeath constitutency. But when the Leader joined the local TD on the campaign trail last week, he was in affable mode, listening intently to what people had to say and chatting easily on most doorsteps.
“I’ll probably give you number one, Peter,” said Joe McAdam. “I don’t see you (Fianna Fail) getting in to be honest but I think you’ll come up a bit from where you are.”
John Forde offered another positive view as he looked at the constituency breakdown.
“Are you heading for the Dail again, Peter? The more of them that’s in it from Longford, the better,” he said. “I’ll vote for Peter, no bother.”
Jobs became the focus once again when Peter Kelly knocked on the door of Carmel Carthy.
“Is there going to be a big emphasis on jobs?” she asked. “The job situation is just ridiculous. There’s nothing. It’s crazy. Longford is just the forgotten county.”
Despite the pressure, however, the former publican and funeral director remains approachable throughout his canvass trail, where he was joined by Cllr Martin Mulleady of Drumlish.
“I do believe that on my record working with people like Cllr Martin Mulleady that we will retain the seat and continue to work on behalf of the people of Longford to address all the local issues. The people here are mainly concerned with local issues,” said Mr Kelly.
Cllr Mulleady told the Leader that he was happy to put his own amibtions for Dail Eireann on the back burner and offer his full support to Peter Kelly.
“Every election is a training ground, but I’m happy enough. I made a decision and I’m backing Peter so hopefully he will get elected and keep the seat. It might be easier getting the seat the next time if the seat is here to be got,” he said. “More than likely James Bannon is going to get elected but all they have to do is come out and say we done all the harm. But what’s his agenda? It’s one thing only: Blame Fianna Fail.”