IT’S been almost twenty years since Pat Gallagher made an historic breakthrough, winning a seat for Labour in the 1992 general election. And while his selection wasn’t universally greeted, prompting defections by Liam Dumpleton and Ray Fitzpatrick, Labour now believe that their candidate John Whelan is poised to emulate their ‘Spring Tide’ success of ‘92.
Weekend opinion polls show Eamon Gilmore continues to lead his party to all time high poll ratings and constituency polling indicates that Mr Whelan is now in with a realistic chance of taking the fourth or fifth seat in Laois/Offaly.
The poll conducted by Sunday Independent/Quantim Research had Whelan polling 9%, level with FG’s Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy, and trailing FG’s Charlie Flanagan 23%, FF’s Barry Cowen 15% and FG’s Liam Quinn on 10%. SF’s Brian Stanley 8% and FF’s Sean Fleming 7% polled behind Whelan.
According to Mr Whelan, “Labour’s campaign and canvassing on the ground is certainly gathering momentum and a strong team that included Tony Maher, Aidan Waterstone, Val Hughes, Will Fennelly and David Whelan (no relation & Labour’s 2007 general election candidate) braved the deluge and high winds to call door-to-door to voters in Tullamore on Saturday, urging them to ensure that there is a Labour TD returned to government from this constituency.”
He remarked, “We’re not getting carried away with the weekend polls but they do indicate that we are viewed as a coherent and credible alternative to voters. People are turning to Labour because of Eamon Gilmore’s direct and sensible style of leadership, Labour’s cornerstone policies on job creation and reform which are embedded in fairness. The public are not looking for any quick fixes or rash promises but they are sick of a wasteful, bureaucratic political system which is full of nepotism and cronyism. People are so irritated by fat cat pensions for retiring Ministers as they struggle to make ends meet and in some cases haven’t the €50 to bring their sick kids to the doctor.”
Mr Whelan added, “People are glad to see a new candidate, with no baggage who will work hard for this community from within Government so that we are not left out of the loop when it comes to investment in jobs, schools and health services. Slagging off the system and looking for scapegoats without putting forward realistic common sense solutions is not going to wash with a highly informed electorate. In Tullamore on Saturday we got a hugely positive response in areas like Thornsbury, Davitt St., Clontarf Road, Marian Place and O’Molloy St. We are heartened by this and time and time again people made it clear that they want a Labour TD back in Laois-Offaly.”