Politicians challenged by members of audience

Renua’s Anne Farrell and Fine Gael’s Cllr. Maura Hopkins, both General Election candidates, were challenged by some members of the public during frank exchanges at Monday night’s public meeting in Monksland.

  Before all candidates were invited to speak, they were warned by Cllr. Tony Ward, who chaired the meeting, not to stray off the topic. 

  However, Ms. Farrell raised numerous issues that she said were raised to her while canvassing, such as “bringing our young people home”. She also spoke about Renua’s plans for reform of local government.

  She was firstly admonished by some in the crowd.

  “We are here for this reason, not anything else,” said one man. “You are waffling,” said another. “Nobody is interested,” commented another.

  Ms. Farrell was then taken to task by Cllr. Ward, who said: “I said at the very outset that there is one item on the agenda here tonight. I will stop anyone (from drifting off subject).”

  Ms. Farrell did say that she was against the boundary review, as did Cllr. Maura Hopkins, but the crowd didn’t think the latter was definitive enough.

  Firstly, the Ballaghaderreen woman said that Monksland was “one of the great success stories within this county”.

  She added: “I am giving my absolute commitment to work as hard as I can to ensure that, whatever minister is there after the election, they know that we are 100 per cent opposed to any move. I give that commitment.”

  However, a member of the public sought a firmer commitment. “Cllr. Hopkins, if you are elected to government, will you support this?” he asked. 

  “I am not going to make promises,” she said.

  She was repeatedly questioned in a similar vein, but her strongest commitment was: “I have given a 110 per cent commitment that I will work as hard as I can…”

  Sinn Féin’s candidate, Claire Kerrane, displayed what she said was a written submission from Sinn Féin Headquarters backing ‘Save Roscommon’.

  “I didn’t come here to talk the talk,” she said. “Talk is cheap.”

  Fianna Fáil candidate Cllr. Eugene Murphy and his potential running mate Shane Curran also said that they strongly opposed the review of the Athlone boundary.