Mary goes the extra mile for the voter with a bee in his bonnet
FIANNA FAIL'S "prim aunt" is canvassing outside a primary school in Deansgrange, South Dublin, when an elderly man ambles by and rants: "Fianna Fail? Are you joking? I'd rather vote for the Devil himself."
He then casts a cold eye over the party's deputy leader and huffs: "I hope you're listening."
Mary Hanafin ignores him.
She's surely itching to fight back, but that wouldn't sit well with the stuffy image conferred on her by Mary O'Rourke.
Mind you, I'm beginning to think Ms O'Rourke got it wrong.
Surely prim aunts are supposed to walk neatly instead of sprinting from door to door in heeled boots?
And they're certainly not supposed to interrupt a man as he labours under his car. Yet, in one estate close to Deansgrange crossroads, Mary has sniffed out a potential vote and won't let go. He is flat on his back, busily working on his car when Mary arrives. You might say he's the perfect captive audience, but no.
"I'm not going to vote for you. You're a very good TD but you're in the wrong party," he tells her.
"You're in power for far too long. Fianna Fail needs to turn itself around and clean up its act." Mary, peering over the bonnet of the car, shrugs and says: "I can't do that from the outside." In her best schoolmarmish tone, she warns: "You're going to throw the baby out with the bath water."
The man smiles, relenting. Sensing victory, Mary moves in for the kill. She knows that in the desperate fight for the fourth and final seat in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, those all-important second and third preferences could save her.
Her target smiles, and Mary adds: "So we have a deal then?"
"We do," he laughs.
As for the Herald's opinion poll suggesting a Fianna Fail wipe-out in Dublin, it's not causing her any undue concern. "That's what happens when you ask people will they vote for Fianna Fail, but the name on the ballot paper does make a difference," she says.
Try telling that to Frances Ryan. "I won't vote for Fianna Fail again. They've ruined the country," she said. Back at the school to meet parents, the former teacher chats to Geraldine Burke, who says: "I appreciate your work, but I'm in two minds." Observing the scene from afar, a young woman remarks to her friend: "I just couldn't even look at that woman, she's definitely not getting my vote."
Luckily Mary is out of earshot. But it's certainly a number one that won't be heading her way.