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Councillor Derren Ó Brádaigh and Eoin Ó Broin out on the canvass yesterday

Warmth, apathy and one 'don't come near my house': On the trail with Sinn Féin in west Dublin

The Journal joined Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson as he knocked on doors in Lucan ahead of Friday’s election.

Eoin Ó Broin Eoin Ó Broin Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

IT’S A SUNNY Tuesday afternoon when The Journal hits the doors in St Finian’s, Lucan, alongside Dublin Mid West TD Eoin Ó Broin and South Dublin councillor Derren Ó Brádaigh.

We meet at St Finian’s Avenue in a housing estate that Ó Broin describes as settled and established with a mix of council and privately owned homes. 

Some 12km west of Dublin city, the suburban village of Lucan is a blend of older estates and rapid expansion.

Nearby, the emerging town of Adamstown is quickly growing but services like healthcare, education and childcare have not kept pace with population growth – an issue not unique to the area.

With just three days to go until the local and European elections its the final push to get out the vote.

The two men split up, divvying out the houses between them with The Journal sticking with Ó Broin for the best part of the hour he spends out on the canvass. 

After a few doors it’s clear Ó Broin is a smooth operator when it comes to canvassing and receives warm welcomes from the vast majority of the homes we approach.

The area is a bit of a Sinn Féin stronghold, with the party’s two Dublin Mid West TDs (Ó Broin and Mark Ward) returning 43% of first preference votes between them in the 2020 General election.

As we make our way around the houses, a number of people tell Ó Broin that Sinn Féin will be getting their number one preference on Friday in the locals and the Europeans.

One man smiles happily at Ó Broin while he tells him this and adds it will be “to get rid of that other shower”. He doesn’t elaborate, but the inference is that he is talking about the political parties currently in Government.

Another person, an older gentleman, tells Ó Broin that he will be voting for Sinn Féin but that he knows a lot of “older people” who won’t because they can’t get the “old stuff” out of their heads.

The man adds however that Mary Lou McDonald is the woman to change that. 

Ó Broin is greeted at another house by a man who tells him “we always vote Sinn Féin”. 

PHOTO-2024-06-04-16-09-20 Councillor Derren Ó Brádaigh and Eoin Ó Broin out on the canvass yesterday

For the most part, Ó Broin’s job across the hour he spent canvassing with The Journal is straightforward and he is able to move from door to door quickly, with few people raising issues. 

Some residents were less receptive to Sinn Féin though, with one woman listening to Ó Broin’s pitch and smiling politely.

“I’ll think of you [on Friday],” she says unconvincingly as she goes to close her door. 

Voter apathy

While we go from door to door, Ó Broin gives a lay of the land in the constituency. 

Sinn Féin is running 10 candidates this time around across the three local electoral areas that make up Dublin Mid West –  Lucan, Palmerstown/Fonthill and Clondalkin.

It currently has two councillors in this area – Ó Brádaigh and William Carey. 

Ó Broin, who is Sinn Féin’s director of elections for the area, admits that running 10 candidates here is ambitious. 

In his view, a great run in this election would be to have eight of the 10 elected. If they got six, he would be “very happy”.

While we walk from door to door, Ó Broin also speaks about the reception while canvassing. 

He makes the point that while the media has focused a lot on the abuse and harassment of politicians (which he says is understandable) he sees voter apathy as instead being one of the main stories of the 2024 elections – particularly with the local elections.

This is the first question Ó Broin asks those who open their doors, “Will you be going out to vote on Friday?”. 

Most say yes, but for those who answer no, Ó Broin has a polished pitch ready and urges them to make sure they get on the register for the next elections. 

Early in the canvass Ó Broin flags that there is a specific house that he wants to go to where he knows there is a less than welcome reception for Sinn Féin. 

As we approach the house, Ó Broin says something along the lines of “this is the one I was talking about”.

There’s no answer however and Ó Broin drops a leaflet in the letterbox.


Across the hour The Journal spent with Ó Broin there are not a huge amount of issues actually raised with the TD. 

Ó Broin tells The Journal that earlier that morning a constituent was very keen to press the issue of chemtrails, the conspiracy theory relating to aircraft condensation.

When asked how he responded, Ó Broin says that you pick your battles.

For one young woman living with her mother, the issue she wants politicians to help with is getting a school place for her son who has autism. She says she has written to the Education Minister Norma Foley to no avail. 

Ó Broin tells her to get in touch with someone from his constituency office instead.

The same woman raises the issue of housing, telling Ó Broin that she has been waiting six years on the social housing list. 

“I’m afraid you’ll have a bit of a wait to go,” Ó Broin tells her, noting that the average wait is 11 years for a person in her circumstances. 

As we move to the next house, Ó Broin says these are the sort of issues that are frequently raised with him – particularly the shortage of school places for children with additional needs. 

He also makes the point that across the entire constituency, there are no special education schools. 

Related to this, Ó Broin points out that many of the schools in the area are having trouble recruiting teachers with vacant full-time teaching positions being advertised that they are unable to fill.  

He says school principals have told him that the reason for this is because of a lack of affordable housing in the area.

The sole other issue raised on the doors while we are out with Ó Broin relates to the maintenance of the housing estate. 

Ó Broin takes the lady’s details and takes a photo of the overgrowth outside her house, promising that someone will look into the matter for her.

Later on in the canvass, a man shouts over the hedge as Ó Broin waits outside a neighbouring house. 

“Don’t come near my house. You don’t know what a woman is,” he yells.  

Ó Broin appears unphased but does as he is told and skips the house. 

As we pass by, the TD quips “that video made me famous”. 

He is referring to a video that went viral last year of Ó Broin being approached outside Leinster House. In it, he is asked by the woman filming to define “what a woman is”. 

Ó Broin begins to talk about gender identity but is cut off each time he speaks by the person filming. 

Ó Broin notes that the video gained huge traction online, particularly among the far-right. He argues however that what gets picked up on social media often doesn’t cut through in the same way in the real world.

“Dog whistle”

When asked what his response is to the suggestion that Sinn Féin has begun pandering to the far-right, particularly on matters relating to immigration, Ó Broin says that simply isn’t the case.

Back in April, Sinn Féin shared a video on social media of TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire speaking about the EU Migration Pact, in which he said the party was “opposed to open borders”. 

At the time, Taoiseach Simon Harris said such comments should “cause concern”, while other opposition TDs labelled the video a “dog-whistle”.

Ó Broin argues Sinn Féin has been doing the opposite of pandering or feeding into far-right talking points and is instead trying to ensure Ireland doesn’t have any far-right representatives elected. 

He says this includes correcting the record on things like Sinn Féin’s stance on “open borders”. 

“I know the language has jarred with some people, but for us it is just defensive,” Ó Broin says. 

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.


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