Pick a poll, pick a winner...

Well, as we all know the Election is in full swing with dreadful weather everywhere.

In connection with the issue of polls, the daftest thing I saw last weekend was that The Sunday Business Post ran a Red C Poll and The Sunday Independent ran a Millward Brown Poll. Both polls were front page news in their respective newspapers. Listen to this: each poll was done on the same days in the Republic and each poll had very different results. How could this possibly be? They cannot be correct.

Now, I know many months ago I wrote in this column about the polls because I had seen the completely erroneous result they gave in the UK with none of the polls anticipating an outright Conservative win. In fact, they all forecasted that there would be a hung parliament in Westminster.

Fast forward to last Sunday when we had these two major polling companies bringing such diverse results from their polls. How daft can that be? Apart from the figures, however, the Millward Brown Poll in The Sunday Independent showed that voters are demanding more spending on social services ahead of tax cuts. In other words, a ‘fairer society’ is seen as being more important than ‘economic stability’.

I agree with that result, and we now know that many voters throughout the country feel there should be less talk about the recovery and economic stability and more talk about homelessness, hospital trollies, and mental health; all of the issues which affect so many of us in so many different ways.

The parties would do well to reflect on this finding rather than on the poll figure findings, which can be discounted anyway as being quite daft. If the voters are already deciding that they want more social services, well then all of the political parties will have to trim their sails and articulate that kind of sentiment in their message to the electorate.

Luckily for Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin had already embarked on that message when he espoused the slogan ‘An Ireland for All’ and talked about a fairer society.

I want to talk to you for a few minutes about the posters of the leaders of the parties. Posters in general went up very smartly once the election was called. Indeed, I understand a few broke the law and put their posters up on the eve of the announcement. Be that as it may, the posters of the leaders vary considerably in quality and in likeability.

Enda Kenny’s national poster featuring just himself is utterly dismal. Normally Enda Kenny has a bright open face with a likeable smile. However, whoever on his election team dreamed up and produced his national poster, I would put them out of the team immediately and not allow him/her to have any further hand in election strategy.

Look at that poster the next time you are passing one, they are all over the country. It shows an Enda Kenny with no smile, just a leer. His eyes are narrowed sharply and in general it is a most peculiar picture. It is not at all a fair or a favourable depiction of Enda Kenny, whose normal mien is cheerful. If I was on the Fine Gael election team, I would gradually put out a better poster with a more cheerful countenance. The present one looks a complete fake.

Micheál Martin and Joan Burton look fine on their posters and no doubt their parties’ canvassers and supporters will be pleased to see them look so well.

Plenty of people writing to newspapers say we should do away with posters. I do not agree with that at all. Now that there is a law stipulating when the posters must be taken down, it means the nuisance will soon be gone after the election. Apart from that, in these wet and windy February days, it makes for brighter driving when one sees the different faces on different poles.

Talking about candidates, we have a new one in Longford-Westmeath, Ms Mae Sexton, an Independent councillor from Longford town running as an Independent in the forthcoming General Election.

Mae has had electoral successes in the past. For some time she was a Progressive Democrat TD for the constituency, as it then was, of Roscommon-Longford. In the last election she ran as a Labour candidate back in Longford-Westmeath. However, she did not make it on that occasion. She then followed it up by going back to her original occupation, which was as a county councillor for Longford and she is serving in that position right now.

Mae has always been regarded as a fine public representative. We now have 17 candidates in the constituency of Longford-Westmeath.

Shane Ross and his Independent Alliance have three candidates running in Longford-Westmeath. They have Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran in Athlone, James Morgan in Longford, and Brian Fagan in Mullingar.

They have put forward a very attractive giant poster which shows the three of them representing the three major towns in the constituency with the implication being that the votes should be transferred between the three Shane Ross Alliance candidates. It is a clever poster and good luck to whoever emerges from it.

Over the weekend, I was in Dublin-West where Cllr Jack Chambers is running for Fianna Fáil facing Joan Burton, Leader of Labour, and Leo Varadkar, Leader-in-waiting for Fine Gael, again with a very crowded field. This was the constituency of Brian Lenihan senior and Brian Lenihan junior.

Jack is a fine candidate and has gathered a huge array of canvassers aound him who are keen to bring the seat home to where they feel it really belongs. He has an uphill battle ahead of him being faced with such luminaries as I have mentioned above, and also with a very strong Sinn Féin candidate, Paul Donnelly. So that constituency will be one to watch.

Roscommon-Galway has finally made up its mind and has added Shane Curran to the ticket with Eugene Murphy for a two-person ticket. Consternation and emergency meetings all round, but maybe the outcome will justify the addition.

Talk to you all next week. In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go fóill,

Mary O’Rourke.

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