Wednesday 26 October 2016

Collins is everyone's cup of tea but faces a real battle to secure one of just four seats

Joan Collins with Daire Cunningham and his daughter Ivy (2)
Joan Collins with Daire Cunningham and his daughter Ivy (2)
Joan Collins with Christine O’Reilly.

Not many politicians get invited in for a cup of tea when out canvassing, but Joan Collins is one of them.

First elected to Dublin South Central in 2011 while under the People Before Profit banner, Joan out-polled Fine Gael's Catherine Byrne on first preference votes and now hopes that the decline in support for Labour will work to her advantage.

Collins' constituency has now become a four-seater instead of a five-seater because of changes to its boundary.

While it will be a tighter battle, Collins - now with the United Left Alliance - could also be at an advantage because the boundary change has excluded a large section of Terenure and some of Kimmage from Dublin South Central, which now falls under the newly-named Dublin Bay South constituency.

It could be argued that those more middle-class areas are ones where voters are less concerned about water charges, and that Collins's new stomping ground - which includes Crumlin, Drimnagh, Walkinstown, Dolphin's Barn, Ballyfermot, and Ballymount - are areas where her central message is already well embraced.

But there are other Independents and anti austerity/anti water charges candidates such as Brid Smith, Paul Hand Neville Bradley and Richard Murray vying for a seat.

So on a chilly night, Collins and her crew of canvassers headed out from their base on Old County Road to start knocking on doors in Old County Glen.

The response she got was very positive. Everyone was polite, and if there was any anger it was directed at the current administration. But water charges wasn't top of the agenda on the doorsteps, even though it is a topic which Collins is probably best known for.

Not far from where she and her team were canvassing the family of Regency Hotel shooting victim David Byrne were preparing for his funeral, so it was no surprise that crime was an issue with potential voters.

The lack of garda patrols, and long delays in getting a garda response when anti-social behaviour was reported, were playing on locals' minds.

Collins' team went ahead of her knocking on the doors. It was during these moments that she would take a pull of vapour from an e-cigarette dangling around her neck.

"I gave up the cigarettes a year ago, now I have to give this up as well. I think I replaced one habit with another," she said, laughing.

It was Christine O'Reilly who invited her in for tea, and took a poster from Joan to put in her window to encourage others to vote for her too.


"She's great, are ye sure ye won't have a cup of tea?," she asked again before Collins said she'd love to but there were more doors to knock on.

Noeleen Maguire was also very pleased to see the TD.

"You didn't go in there and forget about us, and we won't forget about you," she said with passion, promising Collins her number one.

"Don't forget about those water charges," she shouted after her.

Another voter put the A&E crisis at the top of her agenda, saying her elderly father had been taken into hospital the previous Saturday and had an angiogram cancelled three times since.

Daire Cunningham said Green Party candidate Oisín Ó hAlmhain would get his vote because he put climate change as the most important topic in politics.

"But I will think about giving you a vote after that, because whoever gets in next needs to do more than the current government," he told Collins.

Across the road in the frosty night air a young group of boys were being put through their paces by their football coach on a hard tarmac surface surrounded by a wire fence.

After Old County Glen it was on to Bangor Road, before the Collins team call it a night at around 8pm because they say the elderly and people living on their own don't answer their doors when it is late and darkness falls.

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