FINE Gael general election candidate Patrick O’Donovan has accused one of his rivals of orchestrating a “co-ordinated campaign” against him, after dozens of his posters were removed from lamp posts in Newcastle West.
O’Donovan this Wednesday made a formal complaint to gardai after the posters were removed “in broad daylight” last Sunday and dumped in a field outside the town. He said that the “skulduggery” of the supporters of one particular rival in the three-seat county Limerick constituency is to blame for an act which “breaks one of the unwritten rules of politics”.
“We have it on good authority that this was a targeted attack, carried out by the supporters of a political opponent which is a new low for politics in Limerick,” he said.
“The party has provided the funds for the posters but if you want to replace them, it has to come out of your own pocket. We are running an honest campaign and don’t have huge resources to pay for this kind of unforeseen expense. Those responsible for this should consider the cost and effect of their actions.”
O’Donovan is the current favourite among bookmakers to claim the third and final seat in the new county constituency, behind his Fine Gael colleague Deputy Dan Neville and outgoing Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins.
However, the contest is likely to be particularly close, given the strong political challenge posed by Labour’s Cllr James Heffernan, former IFA president John Dillon and O’Donovan’s party colleague Cllr Bill O’Donnell.
O’Donovan said that he had received an anonymous phone call on Monday night from a person who informed him that his posters could be found in a field on the road between Newcastle West and Rathkeale. He said that he had received information that four young men had been driving around Newcastle West in a 2008 black pick-up jeep, taking down the posters in his hometown. Members of O’Donovan’s campaign team estimate that as many as 40 posters were removed. O’Donovan himself described the actions as “so brazen”, and were “something that belongs in Hall’s Pictorial Weekly, not Dail Eireann.”
“This breaks one of the unwritten rules of politics and this kind of skulduggery is very uncharacteristic of the relations that exist between the political parties in this country,” O’Donovan said. “A campaign can be difficult enough for the candidate, their supporters and their family without having to put up with this sort of lousy, mean carry-on.
“It’s important for the people of county Limerick to know that this is being done by someone who might end up representing them in the Dail.”
True to his message of being a young, fresh voice for the local electorate, O’Donovan said that he was able to discover the scale of the thefts by posting a message to his supporters on Facebook.
“A few people have sent me messages after I wrote about the posters and I’m directing them to contact the Gardai with a description of the guys who took them. Social networking might actually help us catch those responsible for this,” he said. “Whoever is behind this should be playing the ball, not the man.”