Battle To Be A TD – Campaign At Endgame

Athlone Candidates talks to

The bookies and polling companies naturally are unable to definitively call the election for Athlone, Co. Westmeath. As said in the previous article, the town will get one of the four Longford/Westmeath seats. On a great day, ‘the town’ could achieve more than one, but it won’t be less than one.

The three favourites of the pollsters for the South Westmeath are Sinn Fein’s Cllr. Paul Hogan, Fine Gael Deputy Gabrielle McFadden and Independent Alliance member Cllr. Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran. Each are natives of Athlone, and have a combination of 36 years of experience representing the town at a political level. The trio exclusively talk to irishsmokefill about their experiences of the campaign trail, as they reach the last lap of the journey.   The candidates own direct quotes to David Flynn are used in the blog post.

The other Athlone candidates are: Stephanie Healy (DDI), Donal Jackson (Ind), Noel McKervey Catholic Democrats (National Party) and Dom Parker (AAA-PBP).

Cllr. Paul Hogan

“I’ve spent a huge amount of hours at this stage, and have knocked on 20,000 doors, in Longford and Westmeath, and got a massive response,

“The first week was not good weather-wise, and we were canvassing in snow and hail, but last week was nice, and we have only a handful of canvass cards left,

“It was a huge campaign, and we were probably the only party talking with people, and not just knocking on doors and just putting in leaflets,

“I hope it’ll come to NO. 1 votes, and I was brought in for tea, for chats, and got a good response on doors, and it was a short campaign mainly concentrating on towns and villages,

“I am very lucky with the team I have, who are more or less the same team with me for last 12 years, and they are hugely committed people, who don’t leave a stone unturned. They were people who were tired, but made sure every door was knocked. I’m very lucky,

“My family have been superb from Day 1, particularly my mother and father who are out there on every campaign knocking on every door,

“There was one funny moment where we got locked into a house, whereas you’d hear of some people getting locked out……

“I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead, and have risen to all challenges put to me,

“At the back of it all, I’m a humble hard working politician,

“There are huge issues out there, and I believe I have the skills to write legislation,

“I want to have strong constituency services and see that people are adequately represented and that we get our fair share in Longford/Westmeath,

“I think it will be very tight, a long count, and I know the co-ordination of tallymen is under way, and we are preparing ourselves for a possible recount because it will be very tight on the day,

“I’ll be delighted with any seat,

“Like a football match, you can have all the training you like, but you need a bounce of luck, so I hope I have that,

“I got a few messages that said that I have got a few postal votes, No. 1.”

Cllr. Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran

“It has been tough, and I was late starter compared to anyone else, and there was a lot of pressure on myself and my team, but I’ve said to everyone, that if they are not tired come Friday, we have not done enough,

“I have over 100 of a team working for me, and we are in a race against time, and it’s all about getting the name of the Alliance out there, and working together as a partnership with Brian Fagan and James Morgan, and working to get one of us elected. It’s hard going, and it’s tough going, and weather has been very poor to us. I’m used to the rain though and have worked in the rain, so I know what it’s like.

“I’m long enough and bold enough to know; it’s about getting new faces, and having a new voice and a new face in the Dail,

“There are some people who only go to funerals, and don’t make contributions to Dail debates, which is something I want to change, and so does the Alliance,

“I’m a different breed of a politician, I’m streetwise, but some dirt is after being thrown at me as regards my education, but I’m a businessman and I’ve interacted with CEOs of companies and I’m 17 years in politics and have been influential, and have a work-rate, and I’m not saying that because of the floods, because long before the floods I was delivering on the doorsteps,

“Believe me in the Dail, I will make a huge difference to the people of Longford/Westmeath. If you come down the motorway, you pass Kinnegad, and come to Moate, and you see all the small towns that were neglected by the government. There has been no investment, no money and not enough infrastructure,

“We have a constituency divide and we are doing something no political party has done, and we selling the brand of the alliance, because the people of Mullingar and Longford has to know Boxer Moran,

“I won’t count my chickens but if I get elected, I want to do what the people want, and I want to make a difference.”

Deputy Gabrielle McFadden

“Things are good, and everybody’s lovely, and I’ve been having a great time, and met a lot of people I haven’t met before,

“It’s still current for me, because I had the by-election 20 months ago, and I’m particularly enjoying the rural canvass. I love putting on the boots, and going up into farmyards, chatting with them all,

“I’m a complete and utter townie, and up to the by-election I preferred an urban canvass, but now I have totally enjoyed the rural,

“A lot of the time people mention Nicky, and many people say we are very different but we have a lot of similarities,

“The joke in the office is, someone will say you go with Gab and keep her moving, because I do talk too much to people, and some would say, she’s not as bad as Nicky, because Nicky would go in for tea as well,

“It was really cold and dry this week, but last week was quite miserable and wet,

“I don’t do kissing babies,

“I saw loads of dogs, and I love dogs and am very brave,

“I saw no giving out and no rudeness, and everyone is really lovely. I feel very close but I’m optimistic. I don’t think negative, and feel I am the best option.

“My wonderful husband and family, my aunt, and niece and nephew and my cousins from Coosan, were out canvassing with me. All my in-laws were down from Dublin, and we had a huge canvass, and some nights we had huge teams out, with lots of young people and some nights we had 12 or 14 teams out.

“Madeline Taylor Quinn was up here a couple of times, and a friend of mine Cllr. Laura McGonigle from Cork and Minister Charlie Flanagan was here, and I’m blessed with a wonderful team.

“I’m happy tired right now, and have worked really hard over the past two and half years, and I have put in a really good campaign. I haven’t done anything wrong, and what will be will be.”


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