Saturday 22 October 2016

AAA looks to take 2 seats from Labour with Paul Murphy leading the charge

PaulM urphy in Tallaght (Caroline Quinn)
PaulM urphy in Tallaght (Caroline Quinn)

Canvassing and evidence gathering is not the modus operandi for most politicians, but Paul Murphy is happy to tell his constituents he is not like other TDs.

The Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) candidate had a team of canvassers who pounded the pavements in the Knockmore area of Tallaght on an afternoon in pouring rain.

One house proved to be a very easy sell.

"I was there with you that day at Jobstown," Janine Cummins told him when he called to her door.

The Tallaght resident was at the protest where anti-water charge protests blocked Tanaiste Joan Burton's car as she left an event in Jobstown. She also had a video that she thought might be useful.

The pair swapped details so that Janine could send the footage on - it might prove helpful for the AAA TD's defence, she said.

It had turned out to be a productive canvass in more ways than one for Mr Murphy.

His impending trial for charges that relate to the protest was on the lips of many of the constituents he met in Knockmore.

"Good luck with the trial pal," one man shouted as he left his driveway.

"People are keen to talk about it and they want to know what's happening," Mr Murphy told the Herald.

He couldn't be drawn on whether it would have suited his campaign to have the trial date looming sooner.

"I haven't thought about that much … the media can't really report on it anyway," he said.

This is the Dubliner's second time in less than two years canvassing Dublin South West, having been elected in the by-election to replace Brian Hayes when he was elected to Europe.

He took some flak at the time from his opponents for standing in an area in which he didn't live. In the interim he moved to Kingswood in Tallaght and settled in after six months or so in his new neighbourhood.

Originally from Goatstown, Mr Murphy said that it didn't come up much with voters that he was from another part of the city.

"I think people tend to judge you on what you do and what you stand for," he said.

Now, despite the awful weather (he said it's always colder in the west of the capital), it is clear he felt at home as he walked from house to house, avoiding puddles.

"I don't like being out in the rain usually, but I do enjoy being out talking to people," he said.


There weren't many people home as it was still mid-afternoon but those who were, were mostly keen to greet the TD. He got a big welcome from several constituents.

One woman had yet to fully make up her mind on what candidate to back, she said, but promised that she would use her vote on polling day.

"It's been drilled into me all my life by my dad 'use your vote'," she said with a laugh.

"What do you think of the Fine Gael-Labour recovery," Mr Murphy asked her.

"What recovery? You're just constantly chasing your tail, trying to catch up with yourself.

"I'm a single mum, I work hard, I try to do everything right but you're getting docked for something else every time you turn around," she said.

The refrain that the coalition -led economic recovery had not made it to communities such as Knockmore was the core of Mr Murphy's pitch and it went down well on the doors where he had a chance to chat.

"Joan Burton giving me €2.50 on my fuel allowance, sure that wouldn't buy me a pint of milk. They're robbing us blind," said John Maher.

The AAA hopes to return two TDs in Dublin South West - it's an ambitious plan but they're confident that both Murphy and Sandra Fay, a teacher from Jobstown, can be returned.

"Why not? Labour returned two out of four in 2011 and I don't think they'll even get a seat this time," he said.

On the doors, he was explicit with voters about the seats the party was vying for.

"The Labour party was supposed to represent the ordinary people... and it became all about getting into power," he said at one door.

The strategy was clear as Mr Murphy asked voters for their number two preference and then introduced his party colleague as their number one candidate.

A low turnout could pose a problem so the team had asked voters to convince between five and 10 family members of friends to vote.

"There's been a real politicisation of the working class and I think we'll see that this year," Mr Murphy predicted.

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