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The campaign trail

Mary Lou can't avoid 'Up the Ra' comment on Cabra canvass but she's not worried about election day

Cabra is McDonald’s home turf, so it was no surprise that she was greeted with a warm welcome on the doors yesterday.

‘UP THE RA’ shouted one man yesterday as Mary McDonald walked away from his door in Cabra yesterday afternoon.

Just a few days out from voting day, the Sinn Féin leader was knocking on doors of her local area shoring up support. 

The man had assured her that Sinn Feín would be getting his number one vote this Friday, before he made the proclamation as she walked down his garden path. 

“Indeed,” Sinn Féin leader replied as she pursed her lips and turned towards the journalists who had joined her on the canvass.

“I can see the headlines now,” she said to reporters as she smirked. 

The saying has been a difficult one for the party leader to explain away over the years, particularly as it has moved to garner new supporters. 

Cabra is McDonald’s home turf, so it was no surprise that she was greeted along Kilkiernan Road with waves and “howya Mary”.

She knew everyone by name and the backstories of most of the neighbours she came across. 

Stopping by another house, McDonald was greeted by Susan Cullen, who said: “I always vote for the Shinners.”

She was joined by her dog Millie, who entertained the travelling canvass with tricks. 

IMG_8270 McDonald meeting dog 'Millie' on the campaign trail yesterday. Christina Finn Christina Finn

While McDonald said housing was the major issue coming up on the doors, stating every second family is in real housing distress, it was local issues that a passerby wanted to raise with the Sinn Féin leader yesterday.

She said the cleanliness of the area was “a disgrace” and asking McDonald and local Sinn Féín Councillor Séamas McGrattan “what’s being done about it?”

McDonald said the council could only do so much with the resources that central government was allocating and that was the issue at play here. 

“Hope everything goes good for you,” said firefighter and Dublin hurler Eamon Dillon, who told reporters he was a Sinn Féin supporter. “Something needs to change. There hasn’t been change in a while. It would be good to see,” he said. 

IMG_8264 Firefighter and Dublin hurler Eamon Dillon speaking to Mary Lou McDonald on the campaign trail in Cabra yesterday. Christina FInn Christina FInn

On her walkabout, a group of builders constructing the new accommodation block for older people at St Finbarr’s Court called McDonald over for a photograph.

“We’ll give ya a hand up here,” the men shouted down from the scaffolding.

She laughed along and commended them on their work before stating that they are “grand houses” but the locals had to “wait a long time for them”. 

Alison and Marie Smith also greeted McDonald in Cabra yesterday. 

They said “all for Sinn Féin”, adding that the party should be given a chance in government. The women said they didn’t have time for Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.

IMG_8280 Christopher O'Donnell speaking to Mary Lou McDonald and Cllr Seamus McGrattan in Cabra yesterday.

The sentiment towards the coalition parties was echoed by Cabra resident Christopher O’Donnell. 

He said the the main political parties are motivated by personal gain rather than the public good.

“They’re all in there just to fill their own pockets and forget about the ordinary working class people,” he said. People are told to vote for one party or another, but “at the end of the day there is still nothing getting done”, he said.

When asked if Sinn Féin will be different in his view, O’Donnell said: “Well I hope so, I’d like to think so.”

McDonald wasn’t promised the number one vote by all households she approached yesterday. One man said he hadn’t decided who he was going to vote for, but said he would consider Sinn Féin.

“Transfers are great too,” said the Sinn Féin leader before reminding the man, as she did with every door she knocked on, that Lynn Boylan was running for the party in the European elections also.

In 2019, the party had a particularly disastrous local and European election.

The party went from having the lion’s share of Dublin City Council (15 seats) to just 8 seats out of 63 and its representation on Cork City Council was halved. Not to mention Boylan losing her seat as an MEP. 

This time around, the party is running 335 local candidates, the biggest number it has ever ran. 

When asked by reporters if she was worried about Friday’s vote

“Not in the least,” replied McDonald. 

“I am around a long time and I have been involved in lots of campaigns and you’re always at the stage where you are on the last lap of it where the intensive work needs to get done. So we have put in a big shift, the party and the organisation has really stretched itself. We have all worked hard and I am looking forward to Friday,” said the Sinn Féin leader. 

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