The Shane Curran show hits Ballinasloe

On The Doorsteps – Dan Dooner trails … Shane Curran

My day began at the flood rally in Athlone, where I bumped into a former Sinn Féin candidate from Leitrim. Someone who knows all too well about internal party politics and made it very clear how difficult certain candidates would find it this week.

  I quickly noticed Shane Curran in the crowd, a suit in a sea of windbreakers. He seemed at ease and shook hands with some of the protesters as they wished him well. This wasn’t a day for politicians however and he made for shelter midway through the speeches.

  I followed Curran to Ballinasloe where he was preparing to canvass the town from Gullane’s Hotel, aided by Mary Devine O’Callaghan and an experienced team. I nicked a couple of sandwiches and followed the candidate out onto the street.

  His first stop was a hardware shop at the back of the hotel. Curran bounced in the door and began shouldering and wrestling the lads behind the counter.

  “I don’t care who ye are or whether you’re feckin’ Fianna Fáil or not, get in for a picture!”

  For their part, the predominantly male staff requested a strip club for the town, while Curran promised to personally come down and open it if it ever came to pass. It was locker-room humour and it played well with the lads.

  The laughter and jokes continued as he told them he expected their votes and made his way to the door. Thankfully he was gentler when greeting a couple on the way out!

  At the next stop, the question of rates was raised and Curran responded by saying that it was certainly something that needed to be looked at, agreeing that they were far too high in the town.

  The health service was slammed by one woman as the “shame of the country” – she said her vote would go to whoever promised to sort it. Shane Curran helped her into her car and made his way into the Credit Union where he was asked when his interest in politics actually began. He assured the inquisitive customer that it has always been there and cited work with the Roscommon/Mayo Hospice as evidence of his work within the community.

  He was urged to remember Ballinasloe and was asked about the development of the town. He was well received and left fully aware of the problems within the area.

  Rates and jobs were once again raised on the street and Curran responded by blaming the existing government and questioning alternatives put forward by others.

  “It’s their policy, they’ve been ripping everyone off” he said of the current government, before turning on Sinn Féin: “Mary Lou is giving phantom money – she doesn’t know where it’s coming from!”

  Mr. Curran went on to assure another woman that Fianna Fáil were offering a €30 pension increase to the elderly, while his team spoke with a man who was critical of the current retirement age.

  Overall, Shane Curran was well received in the town but as a well-known County Roscommon candidate there were those looking to be assured of Ballinasloe’s place in any future plans. He certainly enjoyed himself and as you would expect from the Padraig Pearses manager, he has surrounded himself with impressive teammates.