Public transport, the Airport debt and affordable homes are obstacles that dwarf those that caused past governments to fall at the polls despite their apparent invincibility..." />

How to Lose an Election

Posted on Feb 28, 2007 in Danny Elbow


How to Lose an Election
Danny Elbow

Former Fine Gael leader Gareth Fitzgerald found out how to lose an election the hard way back in the eighties when he visited Millstreet on a pre-election campaign drive. Seen as a Fine Gael stronghold Fitzgerald was welcomed with bonfires and great celebration by the locals, councillors and the business community of North Cork, turning out in their thousands for the arrival of the only man who could keep Charlie Haughey out of power.

"..and the natives played a rather facinating game with sticks.."

Despite his much lauded intellect Fitzgerald was known to be a little eccentric - once turning up for a press conference with odd shoes claiming that he got dressed in the dark so as not to disturb his wife. Shades of a cute and cuddly "Nutty Professor" to some voters but party colleagues organising Fine Gael's 1982 General Election campaign rightly suspected that one day it might back fire.

Making his final speech of the day from the steps of the Fine Gael coach, he began to address the Millstreet crowd, who in typical fashion cheered with great gusto every time Fitzgerald belittled Fianna F·il.

Just as he was about to put down his loud hailer and climb back on board the bus somebody in the crowd threw a red and white teddy bear towards him which he caught - much to the delight of the masses. He then made one of the simplest but significant faux-pas of his entire political career.

Looking slightly bemused at the "unusual colours" of the teddy bear, Fitzgerald asked the crowd what the significance of the red and white was. Here was the leader of the country, a Dubliner, standing in the most fanatical GAA county in Ireland, asking the most blindly obvious question to what were realistically'


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