It happened during the local government elections. I was canvassing on behalf of Anton McCabe of The Labour Party.
It's amazing what you hear when you knock on some doors. I knocked on a door one evening and the lady of the house answered. She would have known that I was a member of the Sheils family but not sure which one. Her son John Paul " The Pope's Child " is a mate of my son Paul, they often go to the mountains together. They were due to go to Scotland a week later. I said to the lady, " how do you think JP will get on in Scotland?. " Oh! are you Paul's dad ? "
" Yes "
" Use you have a black moustache? "
" Yes that's right , about 25 years ago ". That question didn't do a whole lot for my ego I can tell you.
A little bit of local knowledge can be a great thing when you're out canvassing. One evening I called to a rather big house in Johnstown. There was a game of football on television that same evening and people were reluctant to answer their doors. Two young children answered , is your mam or dad in I enquired, they ran back in to the house shouting, dad there's a man at the door. I waited a while, it seemed as if no one was going to answer. I was folding my literature and was about to leave it in the doorway when a man appeared. " Sorry for disturbing you, I'm canvassing on behalf of The Labour Party ".
" I'm watching the soccer!! and I'm voting for Padraig Fitzsimons "
" That's ok, I drank his beer too ", I replied and left.
I called to another house and didn't recognise the man who answered until he spoke. "Jasis don't be annoying me, my father's Fianna Fail mad "
" He wasn't always ", I said
Silence total silence.
Then there was the night I called to a house on the North side of town. A woman answered the door. I began, sorry for disturbing you, I'm canvassing on behalf of The Labour Party. She didn't answer me, she looked at my companion and said to him rather abruptly. " Where do you come from? "
" Navan "
" What's your name? "
" Noel Smyth "
" There's a lot of you isn't there!!!
Noel was surprised to say the least and I thought where the Hell's this one coming from. She turned to me and shoved a piece of paper into my face, saying, " what are you going to do about this? "
" What's that I can't see without my glasses. I could see the heading in big letters ( CORI ) Catholic Organisation Residential institutions. I began to search for my glasses. " I'll read it for you " she said.
As she read, I said " there's no need to read that to me I'm against abortion I voted no in the referendum.
" Yes!, but what are you going to do about it? " she demanded.
" You're not listening I told you I voted no "
" Yes but what are you going to do about it? " she repeated.
" I told you I voted no in the referendum, I also voted no to the Lisbon Treaty ".
" Yes!!, but I want to know, what are you going to do about it?. She went on to complain about the youth of today, saying, " it was all the parents fault ".
" Not necessarily ", I said.
" Oh yes necessarily, it is!! ". Thinking about the leaflet which she shoved in my face, I said , " it could have something to do with the schooling ".
" Oh!!, now you're going to tell me you got a few slaps at school. A little voice in my head, said,
" Mick are you going to take anymore of this crap!!! I looked at Noel and said, " lets get out of here ". As we walked away she shouted after us, " come back here! come back here!! we have to discuss this ".
" Certainly not with you " I replied, and continued on my way.
The very next day the Ryan Report into abuse in Residential Institutions was published and I thought! what's CORI going to do about this?, if the report came out the day before she wouldn't have opened her mouth.
On Monday 25 June we paid a visit to Claremont Stadium in Navan where Africa Day celebrations were being held. The Lord Mayor was there and other candidates as well. He shook hands with Anton saying, " You're a serious contender this time ".
" I was always a serious contender " said Anton
" You'll be fighting for the last seat ".
" We'll see, we'll see ".
In the heel of the hunt, after the first preference votes were counted, Anton came second to Jim Holloway, ( Fine Gael ) the lord mayor came 10th and it was he who ended up fighting for the last seat and two of his colleagues lost theirs.
Michael " The Sheriff "Sheils.