Today is St George’s Day, when the Anglican, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, and the Eastern Catholic churches commemorate the Syrian saint who famously killed a hideous, fire breathing, dragon.
Strangely, St George is not commemorated by the Roman Catholic Church, which means - despite the growth of religious diversity over the past 10 years - there will not be one mention of him in Ireland. Fianna Fáil must surely wish the party’s (mis? )handling of the economic downturn was treated by us with the same interest as the exploits of St George. If it were, FF might be able to look forward to a decent Local Election on June 5.
Mind you, many have noted how quiet it is despite there being upcoming elections. There is virtually no talk about the European elections - well not before the shock resignation of Sean Ó Neachtain anyway. However what does that say, that people are talking about the man who is not running?
The Locals are attracting only slightly more public interest, which is not much at all - a fact that has been remarked upon by a number of city councillors. Walking around the city you would hardly get the sense that it is six weeks to an election. In my own area of the Galway City West, apart from a few leaflet drops, no politicians have been knocking on the doors.
Things are a little busier in Galway City Central and Galway City West. According to one Fine Gael source, people are wary of anyone canvassing at the door. “People ask ‘Which party are you? Are ye that Fianna Fáil crowd. You’re not? Oh well I suppose I’ll listen to you’.”
It’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the Opposition, but it seems to be a case of ‘At least you’re not Fianna Fáil’.
What about the reception Fianna Fáil are getting? You would imagine the dogs are being set on them - or as a friend of mine remarked “I understand garda overtime has been cancelled as they are required as bodyguards for FFers on the canvass trail” - but a Fianna Fáil source said it’s not quite like that.
“We’re not being welcomed with open arms, “ he admitted. “At some doors we are getting a frosty reception, but they are not giving it to us as tough as the media is. The prevailing attitude is that the upcoming election has not sunk into the public mind yet. There is a certain lack of engagement.”
If you are getting an earful it’s one thing, but if you are actually getting a quiet/non-committal response it is even worse. It is almost like you are regarded as beyond contempt at that point.
However the FFer’s final words were most revealing. “People realise there is a worldwide recession and that it’s affecting the candidates as the pension levy affects me too. I’d say though that as election day draws near people will realise they have a chance to sock it to us.”
People are well aware of the economic downturn and are taking it in. Hence there is a mood out there of deflation and resigned acceptance as opposed to outrage. However as polling day approaches, people’s minds will be come more focused and they will ask, ‘Who got us into this mess?’ The answer, the party that has been in power since 1997 and who squandered the boom.
It is very quiet, almost too quiet in the run up to the election, but I do not think this should be taken as a mark of apathy or disinterest by the public. I believe Galway could see a very high turnout on polling day. It’s like that feeling in 2004, people are just waiting in the long grass for Fianna Fáil, biding their time, and sharpening their scimitars.
Think of it, Fianna Fáil is pretty much the despised and dangerous dragon. The voters are St George. The Christian knight has yet to appear over the hill, but he’s coming...and we all know what happened after that...