“Will you consider me for a vote in the local election?”
“Oh I will. I consider everyone who calls.”
The young woman is cheerful and friendly, and manages to be non-committal while telling no word of a lie.
Thomas Redmond was making his way around Castle Park in Athy, going from door to door, and getting a good reception wherever he goes.
He strides slowly, but purposefully.
The Leinster Leader had been told that the Sinn Fein town councillor was getting a great response on the doorstep, but you tend to treat such statements with a little pinch of salt. They all say it.
Turns out it was right.
Everybody we encountered in Castle Park on Saturday evening was friendly - and some even went as far as saying that they would “look after” him.
Nobody said they wouldn’t vote for him, which of course isn’t the same thing as saying they would, but nobody dismissed him either.
One man said he had “voted Labour, socialist all my life, but now I don’t know which way to go, to be honest”. Cllr Redmond himself defected from Labour to Sinn Fein last year.
Cllr. Redmond emphasised that South Kildare will only have six county councillors after the election, and North Kildare will have 34.
To clarify, the southernmost district in the new arrangement is the Athy District, and it will have six councillors.
The remaining four districts, Newbridge/Kildare, Naas, Maynooth/Clane and Leixlip/Celbridge, will have 34 between them.
He drives the point home. “We can’t let Labour and Fine Gael rule the roost”.
The effects of the recession and austerity are evident in Castle Park, a mature local authority housing estate.
There are boarded up windows on a number of houses. And ten minutes into the canvas we came across a young woman with two small children and her brother.
She is effectively homeless and says she was put, with her two small children, into Cuain Mhuire, the addiction hostel, by Kildare County Council, which is, Thomas tells her, not a suitable place for children.
Her brother took matters into his own hands and gained entry into one of the boarded up houses for the young family.
The young man says that “if you can do anything for my sister Tommy, you’ll get a vote from me”.
There is no electricity or running water in the house, and the family are sleeping on borrowed mattresses in the bare front room, but it’s better than being in Cuain Mhuire the young mother agrees.
Cllr. Redmond says that he has written to Kildare County Council several times over it, and been onto them all last week. “I’m off all next week and I’ll be able to follow it up for you,” he assures her.
Then we’re onto the next house, but everybody in the estate knows about the young woman and her family, and they all express concern.
“Sure it’s crazy,” one woman says. “That house is boarded up this ages,” she adds. “There’s no need for it.”
“It just shows the community spirit around here, they’re all worried about the young one,” Geraldine, one of Tommy’s co-canvassers remarks.
In his conversations with the public he’s careful to point out other Sinn Fein candidates, like Matt McCarthy who is in the European Election, and Ger Kelly who is also running in the Athy District.
“Ah sure I know Ger well,” is a common refrain.
They know Tommy Redmond well also, and they seem to genuinely like him, but whether it translates into votes is the eternal question.
All will be revealed when the ballot boxes open!