This time last year, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was trawling through the country trying to rebuild a broken party.
This week he was back in Longford predicting success at the polls for party candidates vying for seats in the local elections.
He was also in town to promote Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, who has put his name on the ballot paper for the constituency by-election which takes place alongside the Local and EU elections this Friday.
This was the second time that Mr Martin was in Longford in the past week as Fianna Fail intensified its campaign to try and take a seat in Friday’s by-election. The odds are against them but still the party believes it could spring a suprise.
Martin says the “work is done” and the proof of this will be evident when the ballot boxes are opened at the community centre in Kenagh next Saturday morning.
After a somewhat rocky start to the by-election campaign last month, when HQ decided not to run a Longford candidate at convention, O’Rourke - a native of Athlone - has without doubt been very warmly received here since his selection in early April.
“Aengus, as a small business owner himself, can lend a wealth of experience to Dáil Eireann with regard to SMEs,” the Fianna Fáil leader said, before adding, “his experience can contribute to policy-making on this issue, which is at the core of every rural town in this country.”
The remarks, of course, lend themselves to the Government austerity measures and the “decimation of rural towns” - a term in regular use by the electorate as election hopefuls knocked its doors over the past few months.
“The demise of rural towns; schools; LEADER funding; community development committees; post offices; reduced garda numbers; the lack of IDA investment - all of these issues are to the fore here in Co Longford - and I believe that the party is in a very strong position to deal with these issues,” Martin added.
“We do not need another government TD; we need new insight so that we can regenerate our rural towns again,” he concluded.