“HAR Ramsbottom will play a few lively tunes. There’s no need for downbeat music,” exclaimed John Moloney. And he promised: “There’ll be finger food.”
Taking place was the official launch of Fianna Fail’s local election candidates in Laois--12 men and one woman vying for 19 County Council seats. The venue was The Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise last Thusday night. John was in the chair.
Guest speaker Deputy Dara Calleary told him: “John, you look about 10 years younger and a stone lighter since you left the Dail.”
More than finger food was on the menue, so to speak. The event was a virtual smorgasbord, featuring, among others, Joan Burton, Mother Theresa, Bertie Ahern and the Queen.
Lacking was the liveliness of Fianna Fail gatherings of old, and grey heads were numerous, but there were signs of party embers rekindling. “We are not going away,” declared Deputy Calleary, echoing the words once applied to another organization.
Having said that, the prize for the understatement of the night went to a man named Liam speaking from the floor. “We (Fianna Fail) made mistakes,” he mused. Then, in mitigation, he asked: “Who didn’t?”
Back to Deputy Calleary--he told of reading a newspaper article about a recent visit of Social Protection Minister Joan Burton to Portlaoise. He quipped: “You would think she was Mother Theresa.”
Then he swiped at his Mayo constituency colleague Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Goverment. He charged: “They love the glory. They love Windsor and hanging around with the Queen.”
FF, on the other hand, should be very proud of the peace process, he said. He claimed: “It would not have happened without Bertie Ahern.”
Looking somewhat forlorn before proceedings began was party activist Seamus Dwyer. Leaning against a bar counter, he was. Empty dispensers and not a bartender in sight. Sober times, changed times. From Moyall, near The Swan, he explained that his area was in Ballinakill parish and was now in the Portlaoise electoral area.
Which meant that he could not vote for his friend Padraig Fleming who’s running in Graguecullen/Portarlington. Indeed, it seems that Padraig, in the same boat as Seamus, can’t even vote for himself.
The distinction of being the party’s only female candidate goes to Catherine Fitzerald, in Portlaoise. Perhaps she will be joined in the future by the youthful Rita Mulhall, from Trumera. She is Secretary of the Comhairle Dail Ceanntair.
Also doing her part is Borris-in-Ossory woman Mary Kirwan. She is Director of Elections. At the launch, too, was Diarmuid Campbell, Mountmellick, the Comhairle Ceanntair’s young PRO.
FF ’s youngest County Council candidate is David Ryan (26), in Portlaoise. In the same area is its senior man, Jerry Lodge. He began his public life in 1967, when he was elected to what was then the Town Commission.
Joe Digan served on the County Council for 19 years before losing his seat a decade ago. “I was the last one (Councillor) in Clonaslee,” he noted. Now, like Dick Miller of Timahoe, he is trying to make a comeback.
Former Minister Paddy Lalor was at the launch, as were Fianna Fáil’s European Parliament candidates in the North West/Midlands constituency Pat (The Cope) Gallagher and Sen Thomas Byrne.