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GE2020 THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Timmy Dooley in Hermitage

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Of all the Clare candidates, Timmy Dooley (FF) tops the poll when it comes to facial recognition on the canvass.

“Howya Timmy”, is the greeting from several passers by as the journey begins from his constituency office on the Mill Rd along Hermitage into Clancy Park.

Though an unfortunate event for Cllr Pat Hayes, the theft of his car on the canvass for Dooley has piqued people’s interest in his campaign with several individuals wondering if there has been an update on locating the vehicle. “Shower of bastards” is the view of one woman regarding the missing car.

Traffic is highlighted as a worry for locals in Hermitage, one woman said she had been lobbying Clare County Council on the matter for two years but to no avail. “When they closed the market, it pushed more of the town up here,” she added and said there feel “intimidated” by the passing trucks but also by the businesses not to do anything. “We’re afraid to cross the road,” she revealed. Timmy assured her that he would get Cllr Mark Nestor on the case.

Housing becomes the main issue flagged in the area. “There are fourteen people living in this home,” a frustrated woman revealed. Her daughter is €4 above the threshold for a Council house and it has led to a very packed home. “The person who gets her a house will get my vote and everyone that I know”. Dooley is adamant he cannot make promises about getting her a home but is willing to work on the matter.

An elderly couple are thrilled to see the Fianna Fáil TD knock on their door. “You don’t have to call here, everything is grand,” the man of the house confirmed, seconds later his wife appears at the door, “Tis yourself Timmy, best of luck”. There is less warmth at the next door with the occupant “not impressed” with any politician.

One man due to have an operation in March shared his difficulties in being on the waiting list but also in arranging transportation to the hospital. He highlighted how tight the corridors in University Hospital Limerick are due to the block of trolleys and is told, “there are not enough nurses or beds,” by Dooley.

Hospitals and homeless are picked as the main issues by a woman who is not impressed by Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil for keeping them in power. “We needed a Government, it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do for the country in the middle of the Brexit crisis for us to withdraw support, it might have got us more votes but it wasn’t in the best interests of the country,” Dooley replied.

Of the promised sixty extra beds at UHL, the lady stated, “What good is sixty beds when there are seventy people on trolleys nearly every day”. The 2016 poll-topper replied, “There has to be more beds put in at Ennis General but we also need more nurses and doctors”.

There is anger from one house over asylum seekers getting accommodation in Ennis, “Look after our own first”. Timmy is sympathetic to the need to house those in Direct Provision, “they have been through torture”, the woman interjects, “I’ve beaten cancer”. The man beside her added, “We are the best country look after others but not our own”.

Members of the travelling community bargain with Dooley that they will get their families to give him their backing if he can help them get a house. “We need to build more homes, Fianna Fáil in power always built houses,” is the response but he stressed, “I cannot promise that I will get you a home”.

He was the poll-topper in 2016 and the poll-topper of candidates so far as recognition is concerned. Timmy has been a TD since 2007, the public will now decide if will continue to serve at Leinster House.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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