herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Bruton faces anger and frustration on doorsteps

A MIDDLE-AGED man peers around the door, his eyes bulging in horror as he clocks Richard Bruton and the sheaf of election literature in his hand.

"Politicians? I'm going to the Communist Party," he mutters in disgust as he retreats back into his abode.

Richard Bruton is unfazed. But it's fair to say the Fine Gael veteran doesn't get off to the most encouraging start as he works his way through the estates around St Anne's Park in Raheny.

At the next door, a dejected voter opens the door and sighs: "At the moment I'd rather not talk to any of you."

Mr Bruton, who canvasses in his Dublin North Central constituency area all year round, admits he has encountered a lot of "hardship, anger and frustration".

Yet, as a prominent member of Fine Gael, and the man who launched the failed leadership heave last summer, he is largely perceived as shoo-in for the first of the three constituency seats. He has certainly impressed local woman Veronica Heron, who insists: "Richard has been good to us, we've called his office before and he's always been helpful."

Further down the street, Peter King is promising to give serious consideration to a vote for Mr Bruton. Currently unemployed, his situation is typical of many suffering through the recession. He was made redundant from his job in retail management and returned to college for further study, but still can't find work.



Challenge

"I do think Richard Bruton is a decent guy. This would have been a Fianna Fail home, but not any more," he says.

Had matters worked out differently last June, when he articulated his lack of confidence in Enda Kenny, Mr Bruton might now be preparing to redecorate the Taoiseach's office. If he's still bitter about the failed challenge, he's doing his best not to show it. He even maintains a straight face when one voter announces to him: "I always voted for you, but not your leader. I just can't stick him."

It's the ideal opportunity for the Herald to sidle up and tentatively ask if Enda's less than magnetic personality has been a talking point on the doorsteps.

"It has come up a small bit," Mr Bruton concedes, before insisting he remains fully committed to his party leader.

Jim Casey is busy working in Raheny Repair Centre when Mr Bruton drops by.

"I voted for him the last time," remarks Jim, "but then I think it's most important to go for the man instead of the party."

By that measure, Richard can start preparing his victory celebrations. Convincing voters that his leader is the best prospect for Taoiseach might be another matter entirely.

afinneran@herald.ie

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