Residents at County Limerick care facility are first to cast their votes

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

FOR the majority of people, there’s another week of electioneering to endure before they head for the polls, but for the residents of a county Limerick care facility they can simply sit back and relax.

FOR the majority of people, there’s another week of electioneering to endure before they head for the polls, but for the residents of a county Limerick care facility they can simply sit back and relax.

The men and women residing at Beech Lodge Care Facility in Bruree are on the Special Voters List which allowed them to cast their vote bright and early this Wednesday morning.

One of the first residents to pop his ballot in the box shortly after 10.30am was a sprightly 88-year-old Paddy Sheehan. For the Ballylanders native, the importance of casting a vote can not be overestimated. “I have voted all of my life and it allows me to have a say in what is going on in this country,” said Paddy.

“I would introduce a law to make it compulsory to vote. I think there should be a fine for people who don’t vote. If people go to the trouble to get a dog licence, I think they should make sure they should vote,” he added.

For Paddy the vast majority of politicians today are “all talk and no action” unlike years ago.

“Things were different before. I remember a politician called Con O’Neill from Herbertstown, who was known as a quick reliever. He could get anything done – everybody called him Con Nail, and we all know how useful nails are. He was a very good man to get a job done, not like some of them now.”

Paddy said that although he doesn’t align himself to any particular party, he always prefers to go with the opposition. “They regulate the current government and can bring a fresh perspective to things.”

Having worked as a labourer in the UK for some years, Paddy has seen many downturns in his lifetime. While he categorises our current woes as the worst he has experienced, he feels there is reason to be hopeful. “Things will improve. We have just learned a lesson that we needed to learn,” he says philosophically.

In the common room, meanwhile, John Kennedy - or Sean O’ Cinneide as he decided to go by on polling day - and Eamon O’Carroll sit side by side. Sean “will of course” be casting his vote. The 77-year-old Garryowen man feels the whole political situation has “got out of hand” and “isn’t doing the country any good” so much so that he has tuned out.

“I have enough of problems now trying to keep my health,” he said. Eamon O’Carroll from Manister, Croom was playing it cool to start – not giving an inch on what way he would vote.

After a little coaxing however, his Fianna Fail colours shone through. “I’m Fianna Fail as was my father and mother – we always went for the Collins’ so I suppose I won’t change that now at 80-years-of-age,” he smiled grasping his spectacles which hung from around his neck.

“Isn’t there a Collins going this time?” he asked.

On being assured that Niall Collins is indeed running, he responded: “Oh, he’d be my man!”

Another resident keeping her cards close to her chest was Margaret Barrett from Highmount, Kilmallock.

At 87 years of age Margaret always casts her vote and this year is no exception.

So who will be getting her first preference?

Margaret simply laughs.

Does she like Micheal Martin?

“Ah I do,” she says, laughing before adding: “At times.”

People on the Special Voters List include long-stay patients in hospitals, nursing homes or similar institutions who are unable to go in person to vote at a polling station by reason of a physical illness or a physical disability. A doctor decides whether the individual is well enough to cast his or her vote.

A total of 15 of the 66 residents at Beech Lodge Care Facility cast their vote this Wednesday morning.