Sunday, September 24, 2006

 

Labour visit the Real Capital

Our annual Pre-Dail “think-in” took place this year in Cork. Along with TDs, Senators and senior party staff, this year all of the Dail candidates were also invited. In all, about 40 of us attended the two-day event.

I drove down with Ged Nash from Louth on Sunday. The session didn’t start until Monday so we used Sunday evening to do a reconnaissance mission of Cork city.

The rest of the delegates started to arrive on Monday morning. We kicked off at lunchtime with a press conference. The afternoon was spent listening to a series of speeches on electoral strategy from key party staff.

Cork Pre-Dail PLP Think in
Cllr Ged Nash, myself, Gen Sec Mike Allen and Deputy Emmet Stagg in Cork

At six pm we broke and travelled to a Civic reception at Cork City Hall, which was hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Michael Ahern. My dad is from Cork so I made sure that I got a picture with the Lord Mayor in his office. On the walls are pictures of Terence MacSwiney and Tomas Mac Curtain.

Cork Pre-Dail session
The Lord Mayor of Cork and I

On the way back to the hotel Ged Nash called me over:

Morning Ireland are looking to do a few clips with some of us” he said.

Do you know how many they want to do?”

They probably only want a few. Stick close to Kathleen O’Meara, she knows the interviewer”.

I sat behind Kathleen on the bus and when we got to Silver Springs Hotel I followed her in to the lobby. She immediately greeted Cian, the Morning Ireland interviewer, and introduced myself, Kathleen Lynch, Ged and Aidan Culhane to Cian.

I’m really sorry, but I can only do a few of you.” he told us. “I’m going to have to leave you out Ged.”

Ged took it well. He had been on RTE TV and TV3 earlier in the day (check out http://dynamic.rte.ie/av/230-2174234.smil) so he was happy enough.

We went up to Aiden Culhane’s room and Cian recorded us all one after the other, asking us questions about Pat R’s leadership, the latest poll and our thoughts on Enda Kenny.

Enda K joined us for dinner that evening. He gave a strong speech to the delegates, which was covered by the press, so I won’t bother repeating it here. For me, the night was very informative. I’d just come from a family wedding so I was in good form for working the room. I think I got to speak to everyone that attended the event. In the process I got a very clear view of how each deputy and candidate expects the party to do.

I rose early for breakfast and turned on Morning Ireland. Cian had told us that our piece would be on at about eight thirty. In the event, it wasn’t on then and instead there was an interview with Pat R. I wandered down to join Liz McManus for breakfast; she told me that our piece had been on at seven thirty.

Candidates spent the first couple of hours discussing issues in relation to election planning. We then joined the PLP to contribute to their discussion on how the next Dail-session was likely to pan out. The session was very thought-provoking and gave me a flavour of what I can expect if I am elected next year.

At lunch I got the opportunity to sit down with Eamon Gilmore and Ged Nash to discuss various issues, including planning fees, the Laytown school issue, the M3 and the proposed incinerator.

That concluded the think-in. Rather than go straight back home, I spent the afternoon in Crosshaven, where I had holidayed for many summers of my youth.

The next morning was spent the local area meeting in Duleek. It was an ill-tempered meeting as far as I was concerned and I didn’t achieve as much as I had hoped to. Once again, I brought up the lack of action on street furniture for Donore village. This time the Area Engineer has agreed to come out on a site visit with me to see what can be done.

Last week’s Sunday Business Post published an article about Broadband in Stamullen. It quoted me saying that Stamullen is of sufficient size to warrant and Eircom broadband service. Eircom rubbished my clam that there are 900 houses in the village. I was a bit surprised: I have delivered leaflets around the village on a regular basis and can vouch for that number of houses. I have written again to the Chief Executive of Eircom, asking him to accompany me to the village so that he can see for himself the potential business they could capture.

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