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enda the line

A power interruption from Enda - as Fine Gael picks the WRONG day to canvass Luas passengers

Fist-bumps for all… Fine Gael’s campaigner-in-chief tries his best to distract everyone from the lack of voters.

Updated: 15.22

“Well, this has been a great success,” Simon Coveney, Fine Gael’s Director of Elections, observed to his supporters, a few minutes into today’s canvass (saying the opposite of what was true, for comic effect).

It had seemed like a pretty solid idea…

Send four of Fine Gael’s heavy-hitters down to the Luas Green Line terminus, for a final-week ‘Yes’ vote push.

Plenty of photo-ops with busy professionals. And a steady stream of (statistically, likely-Yes voters) being ferried in from the leafy suburbs of Ranelagh and Dundrum.

Except – the trams were were off.

And as Coveney, Jerry Buttimer and Senator Eamonn Coghlan arrived with around 30 fellow campaigners — the commuters were few and far between.

It didn’t seem to deter them…

Although Coveney definitely picked the wrong side of the road to start on

Buttimer – in particular – hit the pavement with relish…

Coghlan, meanwhile, hung back a little – demonstrating two distinct summer-fashion looks (sunglasses on … sunglasses off).

Cá bhfuil an Taoiseach?

After a while, people began to wonder if the main man was going to show up at all.

Perhaps word had been sent that there was no-one to take selfies with – and Enda had headed to the Red Line instead?

But no…

Appearing (apparently out of nowhere) beside a Yes Equality van, the Taoiseach attracted a flock of supporters within seconds.

Young ‘Yes’ campaigners – thrilled to meet him – gathered around, and there were plenty of laughs – as a relaxed-looking Enda cracked jokes and buoying their spirits, teasing the pack of following photographers.

Raising the ire of more than one motorist (unless those were beeps of support) – he then led everyone straight into the path of the oncoming traffic.

The full Enda

The tram stop now abandoned, it was a slow start for Fine Gael’s campaigner-in-chief at the top of Grafton Street too.

As workers rushed to their offices – no-one seemed inclined to stop, and canvassers took to intercepting cyclists and truck drivers for the Taoiseach to talk to.

He soon warmed up, though – within a few minutes going into FULL ENDA mode (fist-bumps, obligatory selfies, jokes about hurling … ).

People were actually lining up for a photo, and a chat.

Smiling happy Yes voters

Whether these sort of affairs have any particular impact as they’re happening is another matter altogether.

It’s more a matter of getting faces into papers and footage onto TV, than convincing floating voters.

Everyone who stopped and talked to the Taoiseach seemed to be firmly in the Yes camp anyway. And, referendum aside, Enda was happy enough to chat with passers-by about whatever happened to come up (at one point, as we sidled alongside, he was talking to a man from Tennessee about The Alamo).

On the last full day of campaigning before the broadcast moratorium kicks in – a relieved looking Coveney seemed to regard it as a solid morning’s work, however.

The ministers – accompanied by Coghlan – headed back off to the Dáil shortly after 9am.

Buttimer, meanwhile, said he was heading straight home to Cork – to continue his canvass.

(In case you were wondering – the Luas eventually decided to come back online, shortly before 10).

At a later press conference, Kenny and several Fine Gael ministers and TDs again called for a Yes vote.

The Taoiseach said: “We’re in the final hours of a campaign that has lit a fire in the hearts and minds of Irish people all over the country … rarely have I seen such a degree of engagement or passion or intensity”.

Kenny said a Yes vote will “obliterate … prejudice or the irrational fear of ‘them and us’”.

Coveney said the chair of the Referendum Commission, Justice Kevin Cross, has clarified several times that surrogacy is a separate issue, adding he is “beyond question in terms of his balance”.

Kenny noted that legislation on surrogacy won’t be enacted before the general election as a public consultation process is currently under way in this “very complicated area”.

He added that denominational schools will continue to have “absolute freedom to teach their doctrines” if the referendum is passed, but noted the issue of civil marriage may come up in civics class.

When asked if he thought if he might become a gay icon because of his support for same-sex marriage, Kenny said: “I have no intention of becoming a gay icon.”

Meanwhile, Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton has said the referendum is “the gateway to a country where gay people are accepted rather than just tolerated”.

“Change can be difficult but if we aspire to live in the ‘good society’ we will find acceptance creates a happier country,” Creighton said.

- with reporting by Órla Ryan

Read: This father is voting NO, his daughter is voting YES. Watch them debate.

Read: Just how close is the same-sex marriage referendum?

Read: We went to the most Catholic county in Ireland to ask about same-sex marriage

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