Saturday, February 22, 2014

On the campaign trail ... 40 years ago

With the campaigns for Election 2014 now getting underway, it seems an appropriate time to revisit my own personal local elections foray four decades ago, writes Brian Byrne.

I ran as a Fine Gael candidate, but very early on in the campaign it was clear that I wasn't getting a lot of support from my more experienced fellow party candidates in the area. Understandably, they were more interested in picking up transfers from this first-timer than helping me to perhaps take their own seats.

I ended up running a very personal campaign, canvassing primarily in the greater Kilcullen area where I had a better chance of picking up enough first preferences to kick-start the numbers.

I have some interesting memories, and some funny stories from that period. In the end, though, I was narrowly beaten on the 10th count for the last seat by Paddy Aspell, for Fianna Fail, who served as a highly-respected councillor for decades afterwards. I was told by the tally people that ten or a dozen more first preferences would have made the difference to my position.

Every time I met Paddy since, I thanked him for winning. It was fairly clear that if I had taken that Fine Gael seat, I'd probably have won an election for TD in the following years. Look at all the fun I've had in life, and am still having, that I'd have missed if my career had continued on the political road.

Anyhow, we'll take a look at the new political field in the coming weeks, and see where Kilcullen lies in the spectrum of policies of the various candidates in the Naas Area to which we have now been returned.