There was lots of election talk in the air as Junior Minister Tom Parlon and Social Welfare Minister Seamus Brennan joined councillors from Leitrim and Roscommon and local deputy John Ellis to inspect the new Social Welfare offices in Carrick-on-Shannon last Thursday. The magnificent 40,000 sq. ft. building with stunning views of the River Shannon will house 210 workers when the decentralisation programme is complete and 126 workers will start work in their plush new surroundings in Carrick on April 10th. Despite the well-documented problems with the decentralisation programme nationwide both Ministers were positively purring at this success story for Carrick-on-Shannon and this is certainly one oasis of success for the much-maligned programme mooted all those years ago by Charlie McCreevy. Purring too was local FF Deputy John Ellis because these 200 Government jobs for the local area and the prospect of more to come when the Inland Waterways decentralise to the town will certainly do his re-election prospects no harm at all. I asked both Ministers when they thought the General Election would be – and if they knew (which I don’t think they did) they were not telling me. In the classic style of the Spanish waiter in Fawlty Towers — Manuel — Minister Brennan told me ‘I know nothing’ adding: ‘Bertie will make up his own mind and he has said that we will be back the the Dail after Easter so your guess is as good as mine but we certainly know it’s imminent’. Not exactly breaking news!! So no luck with Minister Brennan – so I decided to try my luck with Minister Tom Parlon but I didn’t fare much better with him either. His response? ‘I’m going to ‘Parlon country’ this very evening to canvass in the Kinnity area and I have to keep my head down for the next two months (a clue perhaps?) but we have to convince the country that we (FF and the PDs) are the best option to govern the country given the job we have done for the past ten years.’ True party political broadcast mode! The election campaign may not have started yet officially but it’s going on full tilt — if you know what I mean.