Byrne name burns brightly for New Ross voters

By david looby

Published 20/02/2016 | 00:00

The Fianna Fail candidate gets a kiss from former Emeralds star John Asple.
The Fianna Fail candidate gets a kiss from former Emeralds star John Asple.

AOIFE Byrne rolls into Fr Cullen Terrace in New Ross with high hopes and enough clothing to withstand an arctic expedition.

Her first knock is rewarded with the promise of 30 votes.

Not a bad start.

The 93-year-old occupant of the house in question, Delia Purcell, smiles broadly, welcoming Byrne into the warmth of her hallway, before declaring: 'So long as you're Fianna Fáil, you're fine. Your father got the light fixed for me!' she says, pointing to a street light outside her home.

'Tell him I am still here and I'm 93 years going on 94.'

'You wear it very well,' Byrne replys in a heartbeat.

The lady lists ways in which the current government have cost her from the telephone charge to other bills.

'I will give you my vote,' she says emphatically.

When Byrne enquired if any of her family will do likewise, she says: 'I have over 30 grandchildren.'

Byrne asks for their number one vote also.

'I'll be on to them,' Ms Purcell replies, before disappearing sprightly into the warmth of her sittingroom.

John Asple, a hearthrob in his heyday, answers the door with an armed, wry smile.

'You think you are going to do something for me after what your shower did to the country,' he says putting it up to Byrne.

The former Emeralds band entertainer said: 'I will consider her for a vote because she is from the area but New Ross is a dead town. God help the youngsters coming through. When I was growing up at least there was the Albatros in the town.'

At this point the Aoife Byrne wrapped mini-bus rolls into the estate, obscuring the houses behind it.

Her father Hugh, a former TD with a warm way about him, and some team members emerge sideways from the bus, shielding themselves from the incessant rain.

Ben Dolan, a partner of Byrne's campaign PR manager, is no Fianna Fáil supporter but he listens with studied interest to what Byrne has to say.

He says: 'I have been very disappointed in our Wexford TDs. We have had two ministers over the last five years and it doesn't seem like anything has moved on. Fianna Fáil are not the bogeymen they are made out to be.'

Byrne offers herself as a fresh new face, complete with new fresh blood, to rescurrect the county.

Mr Dolan says the last time he was excited by a Wexford politician was by Ivan Yates.

Byrne lists her plans for creating jobs, saying she welcomes the government's South East Action Plan For Jobs and talks of the need for a University of the South East with a campus in Wexford.

Mr Dolan says more needs to be done to look after and protect the elderly, mentioning a burglary in the area.

Dressed in a powder blue coat and wearing wooly gloves and a green reflector jacket with Aoife Byrne No 1 imprinted onto it, a pink cheeked Byrne moves in for the kill, seeking a number one vote.

She talks about making New Ross a hub town and about getting community text alert schemes up and running to protect people living on their own.

Shivering on his doorstep in the cold, Mr Dolan flatly commits to giving her a number.

At the next door an elderly lady welcomes the fact that Byrne is a female candidate, adding that jobs are badly needed in New Ross.

Estate finished, Byrne hops onboard her modern mini bus and heads for Wexford, warmer and more confident in the knowledge that she has picked up more votes in the Barrowside town where she worked as an auctioneer in recent years and where she attended school in her teens, at a time when the town was in better shape.

Wexford People

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