THERE’S a smell of slurry in the air on the drive to Kilmallock which mirrors the feeling on the ground says Independent Limerick County candidate, Richard O’Donoghue.
“People are sick of political bull,” he declares on the town’s Main Street. Farmers are emptying slurry tanks and Mr O’Donoghue is emptying both barrels.
“People are supporting me because I stand for rural Limerick. We are forgotten. Rural Limerick is dying. Our infrastructure is gone. We’ve been putting up with a lot of bureaucratic bull for years. This is Limerick’s chance,” said the councillor.
If somebody is going to break the Fine Gael / Fianna Fail domination in Limerick County the bookies think the man best placed to do it is Mr O’Donoghue. Currently he is just over 3/1.
The Leader joins his canvas in Kilmallock at 3pm on Monday. Mr O’Donoghue has 15 supporters in tow. In the last general election, he got 2,855 number ones. On Saturday, there will be no Emmett O’Brien or James Heffernan who got 8,702 first preferences between them in 2016. A reduction in Fine Gael’s vote could leave the door open for Mr O’Donoghue.
But Fianna Fail running a second candidate (Michael Collins) and a rise in the Greens and Sinn Fein could hurt him.
“Everywhere I go this time people know me because I have been on the ground. I have been ordinary and I have helped people. That’s what people want in rural Limerick, they want you on the ground,” said Richard.
He and his team went into Mike Houlihan’s pub to see if they could garner the support of the former Limerick hurling great.
“I was at the mart this morning. I met people from all political parties and none. They came up to me and said, ‘Thanks be to God you are running, you have our support’. I feel it on the doors. I do believe this time we are going to get a voice for rural Limerick. Everywhere I go am hearing it,” said Mr O’Donoghue. Mike Houlihan wasn’t behind the bar but he met Tony Corbett, Kilmallock.
“I’ll give Richard my number one. He is a good worker for the area. That’s what we need. I’m not a party man,” said Mr Corbett, who vowed to buy Mr O’Donoghue a whisky if he gets elected!
While he is a councillor in Adare-Rathkeale he has strong ties in south Limerick. Born in Banogue in 1970, the family moved to Athlacca when he was 10. Mr O’Donoghue attended secondary school in Kilmallock. He now lives in Granagh with wife Kay and their four children – Jack, Conor, Niall and Darragh.
The building contractor says all his posters and literature have been done in Limerick “because I support Limerick”.
“Why do our TDs have to get their stuff printed in Dublin when our rate payers are here? Fine Signs did my posters and Abbey Printing here did my literature,” said Mr O’Donoghue, as he enters the door of the business.
“I’m all about keeping it local,” said Mr O’Donoghue. “Fair play to you for keeping it local,” said Michael Morrissey, proprietor.
Next stop is the Bank of Ireland where the cashier says she is a Tipperary lady.
“You only have the Liam MacCarthy on loan,” jokes Mr O’Donoghue. “And we’ll keep it!” she replies as quick as a flash. After he poses for photos it is across the road to the Credit Union.
“It was the old Post Office. We did the complete refurbishment and extension of it. Eighty two per cent of the workforce were local. When they did the primary school and secondary school there were hardly any locals employed,” said Mr O’Donoghue.
If he is to get in it means one of Deputies Niall Collins, Patrick O’Donovan or Tom Neville will be out.
“I can’t say who to get rid of. That is the people’s choice. What I would say is to vote for people who are going to work,” said Mr O’Donoghue.
“ I do believe Independents are going to have a big part to play in the next government. I will align myself with a party once they have a big cheque for rural Limerick for investment, for infrastructure and a vision for rural Limerick.”