James Bannon admits that as canvasses go, this one has probably been his easiest in terms of meeting angry voters.
“One or two over the whole campaign, but they calm down after a while,” said James, as we walked up into Devine Crescent, one of the more mature and settled of the developments around Edgeworthstown.
“The people were hungry for a general election, and now that we have one, they’re happy,” he said.
Another reason why James says he doesn’t get too many angry responses is that he says he’s well aware of what the problems are in each estate, not just here in Edgeworthstown, but county-wide.
“I call between elections. I know the people and I go into houses. It’s (canvassing) not just at election time. You win elections in between elections,” he proudly declared.
“This is my second time around here since Christmas,” he added.
Canvassing brings with it the chance that you’re going to get even more ‘reps’ (representations – issues that constituents need help with) than normal.
Director of Elections, Paul Ross agrees. “Last minute representations are always the danger at this time of year, particularly if you can’t physically deliver,” he remarked.
“Some people have asked a TD for a medical card, or a new house, something that’s going to take a few months at least, and demand it within three or four weeks, and will guarantee votes on the strength of that. It’s an impossibility.
“From my point of view, it’s the worst time, from a work point of view, to be a TD, because he’s obviously up to his eyes – out 12 hours a day, getting numerous reps, and he just wouldn’t have the time get the work done before the election.”
Back on the canvass trail, which for James started way back in November, the occupant in the third house revealed that he was ruled ineligible for the fuel allowance because he was €1.48 over the top.
“I thought it was a big stingy,” the voter remarked. “It’s a bit stingy alright,” James agreed, before taking some brief details and leaving with a promise to look into the case for him.
Another house sees a woman bemoan the current economic situation, before asking, “But sure what can Fine Gael do?”
In a rare moment of strong questioning, James probably sums up the entire General Election campaign. “All we can do is give a bit of hope to people,” he sighs.
“It can’t get any worse that it is,” she agrees.
The conversation moves on to the IMF and Anglo seeking more money. “It’s the very same as you opening that furnace door, or range door, and ploughed money in to it. It’s burning up all the time. Scandalous,” said James, who assures the woman that they’ll cap any payments to retiring TDs and Ministers.
“They should all be put on €190-odd a week and see how they live,” she quips, before the canvassers leave.
Each house brings a favourable response.
“I was Fianna Fail, but never again. I’m not just saying that,” remarked one resident.
Another number one marked down for February 25, on a growing list.