Deirdre Wadding woos the voters
Published 20/02/2016 | 00:00
DEIRDRE Wadding is getting a good response on the doorsteps at Wolfe Tone, one of the most deprived areas of the town.
The sun is shining, but the mood of the people she meets is anything but sunny.
The lack of jobs, particularly for young people, cuts to welfare, cuts to health, disdain of the ruling coalition, are familiar refrains.
It's fertile ground for the People Before Profit candidate who pledges to kick the establishment where it hurts and commits to a sea change in the way Ireland looks after its people: The haves will have less, and the have-nots will get a fairer deal.
We are followed around the estate by an independent film crew filming a documentary about the crossover between paganism and politics, although some in Deirdre's entourage say the fact that she is a wiccan priestess and a pagan is irrelevant to her political life and has been seized upon by some sections of the media, while other candidates' religious and spiritual beliefs are ignored.
'We are finding a lot of unhappiness when we knock on doors, people are friendly with us though, once they know who we are,' says Deirdre.
'We were in Bunclody yesterday and come across three women who tore my election literature up, but when I explained who I was and what I stood for, they apologised.. people are at the end of their tether,' she says, adding that she met a man in Corish Park who was waiting with a bucket of water if Minister Brendan Howlin came knocking.
In Wolfe Tone, Deirdre speaks with Mary McGuire, who has been visiting her mother.
'Do you know anything about us, or me, or what we stand for?' she asks Mary.
'No,' comes the reply.
'We're looking at turning the whole show around.. we're looking at taxing the corporate sector and high earners, those who earn €100,000 up, to turn things around and start bringing money from the people who have it.'
Mary tells me she hasn't decided who to vote for yet.
'I would rather vote for an independent,' she says.
Mark Lynch tells Deirdre he is on a Gateway scheme, leading to a fusilade from her.
'I think that the Gateway scheme is slave labour.. how can you be paid just €20 a week on top of the dole,' she says, urging Mark to vote for her, Mick Wallace, David Lloyd, from Direct Democracy Ireland, or Sinn Fein's Johnny Mythen if he wants to see some real change - those who has signed up to the 'Right to Change'.
Breda Byrne raises local issues of a long wait for new toilet and shower in her privately owned house - 10 years, she says.
Deirdre says that after the cut and thrust of the election is over, she will see if anything can be done.
Breda raises another issue about her daughter whom she says is being refused adequate proper medical treatment for chronic pain.
'I told the consultant that if I had €1,700 to pay for her treatment, she would get it.. he didn't like that.'
Deirdre said she would like to see a single-tier, UK-style national health system in Ireland, but then qualifies that to say it should like it was before David Cameron and the Tories slashed its services 'for the benefit of the private sector'.
Joan McGuire is eager to speak to Deirdre, unleashing a wave of complaints and frustrations. Her son, who was working in Australia, has returned after three years and is surviving on only €100 a week.
'He came back to be treated like that.. the housing list is a joke, there is nowhere for him to live.'
'Do you see any sign of the recovery Fine Gael and Labour are talking about?' Deirdre asks her.
'No, I think things look worse than they were,' Joan replies.
Joan is critical of those candidates who push their election literature through the letterbox, but don't actually stop and talk. 'If I go to the supermarket, I like to see what I'm getting.'
She adds that her mother used to tell he that it should take a woman to run the country. Deirdre replies that 'without being sexist' she agrees with the sentiment. No doubt who she has in mind.