Cllr Ray Butler with Georgina and Elizah Douglas in Trim.

'There’s a lot of frustration, but people are very mannerly’

Ray Butler is nothing if not persuasive, as a grateful mother discovered when her toddler locked her out of her car in the Navangate area of Trim last week. The Fine Gael candidate was canvassing in the area when he came to the rescue of the woman whose child locked the door just as she got out of her car. Taking a break from persuading people to vote for him, he turned his attention to cajoling the child to the open the door instead. “Pull it up, pull it up,†he coaxed the child, while pointing at the button on the door. There were sighs of relief all round when the toddler duly obliged. And so Cllr Butler continued on his way with his charm offensive on the voters of Trim. The issues that keep coming up on the doorstep was the economy, unemployment and emigration. Cllr Butler had spoken to a barber earlier that day who had cut hair for nine people in one day, all of whom were bound for Australia. “There is a lot of frustration out there. So many people are in negative equity and are worrying about educating our young people, about where they are going to get jobs, but despite the frustration, they are very mannerly at the door,†he said. A recurring theme on doorstep was criticism of Fianna Fail. “The amount of strokes Fianna Fail pulled is frightening. It was all jobs for the boys and nepotism,†said one man. Another man said in the last recession, he had been single and was working, but the married father found things much bleaker now. “It is my first time out of work in 30 years,†he said. “The budget before last, they kicked people when they were down.†He indicated that there would now be a change in the way he voted the last time. “Oh we were all blinded at the last election and the country was booming,†he said. At another door, the woman of the house told the FG man he was getting her vote, although she had always voted for Noel Dempsey in the past, but she wasn't voting Fianna Fail any more. While she was voting for Ray Butler, she was at pains to point out it was a personal vote. “I'll be voting for you. You did a lot for the people of the town, but it will just be for you. I don't like your boss - I'd rather have Gilmore,†she told him. As well as the big national issues, Cllr Butler was also hearing about local issues on the doorsteps, including the need for a speed ramp at Navangate. “The cars come flying up here. If a child went out after a ball, they'd be killed stone dead,†one woman told him. As we stood on the doorstep, a van went buy with a big picture of our candidate on its side. “Ooh you're looking well,†the woman of the house remarked. “With your pink tie.†“I'm getting touch with my feminine side,†Cllr Butler quipped. The issue of the banks raised its heads again with the next man we encountered. He was furious at the money going into Anglo Irish Bank (and pointed out that its current chairman, Alan Dukes, was a Fine Gael man). However, he saved his fury for the current government. “Lenihan should be shot. He's a second Hitler. Fianna Fail should be out forever, no matter who else gets in,†he said. Rates was another major issue that people have been raising with him on his travels around the county. “Small businesses are really struggling and the rates bills are crippling them. Legislation will have to change so we can help small business,†he said. As we make out way around Trim, he is keen to point out to voters how important it is to have a TD in the area. “We need a TD in south Meath. It is important that we have representation in this area,†he said. And Cllr Butler and his supporters are making an all-out effort to ensure there will be a Trim deputy in the 31st Dail. His campaign headquarters in Bridge Street, Trim, is like a wartime military command bunker, with a map of the highways and byways of Meath highlighted in pink marker as soon as the canvass on each road is complete - and when the Meath Chronicle visited last Friday, there were a lot more pink roads than black on the map! Cllr Butler is delighted at the suppport he has been receiving and he is determined to cover as much of the county as possible. Originally from Kells, he has also been canvassing in the part of Kells that remains in the Meath West constituency, along with his brothers and his team has paid a lot of attention to south Meath, in particular. Tom O'Connor from Ballinabrackey, who was part of Friday's team, had never seen anything like the canvass for Cllr Butler the previous Saturday in Enfield when they had 32 people out pounding the pavements - and just as many were expected in Ballivor last Saturday. Cllr Butler is hoping that all this hard work will ultimately pay off and that the prediction of passing motorist - who stuck his head out the window and shouted he'd see him in the Dail bar - will come to fruition.