Sunday, October 04, 2009

 

Time to move on from Lisbon

I spent the week on the Lisbon trail again, talking to people about Friday's Referendum. It was a pleasant time. People were very eager to listen and wanted to know what it was about. That was a huge difference to Lisbon 1.

Our campaign involved several different strands.

1. Posters - but without the local names and faces as per Lisbon 1.
2. Canvassing outside supermarkets - myself and Nessa Childers MEP did a number of these across Meath.
3. Leaflet delivery - we sent out about 15,000 to houses in Meath.
4. Door calls. Myself and my team called in person to thousands of doors in the county.

Separately to this I also attended a walkabout on Grafton Street with Eamon Gilmore on Wednesday, which went very well. The day before we had been in Dundalk where we met with Mark Durkan of the SDLP to hold a joint press conference advocating a "Yes" vote. It was at this press conference that some local Sinn Feiners decided to hijack the press conference. We let them into the conference but they wouldn't afford Eamon or Mark the opportunity to speak without interruption. They kept shouting every time they tried to answer a question. The television cameras were there to catch it all and the subsequent coverage probably swayed a numbers of undecided voters onto the "Yes" side.

All of our senses told us that the "Yes" side would win. When the results came in I was a bit surprised by the results. I had predicted 63 / 37, which turned out to be an underestimate.

Now it's time to move on. The next big issues for us will be the NAMA legislation, the McCarthy Report("An Bord Snip Nua") recommendations on cutbacks and the forthcoming budget. Of course, there's also the possibility that some other unpredicted issue of importance comes along as well.

On Friday I visited the People's Resource Centre in Kells town. The centre is the first point of call for many Kells residents who want to access a number of services, such as Money Advice, Citizens Advice, shelter from Domestic Abuse, etc. With the downturn in the economy they are busier than ever. However, one of the recommendations within the McCarthy Report could have significant implications on their funding. I was fully briefed about the impact that this would have. It's something that I expect to speak on in the Seanad over the coming weeks.

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