An Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky rescue helicopter flew over the Marshes Shopping Centre in Dundalk when Taoiseach Enda Kenny made a whistle-stop tour on Tuesday evening, but it couldn’t rescue the country’s leader when he was confronted by Mr Frank Watters in his mobility scooter.
Mr Watters tackled the Taoiseach about doing away with the mobility allowance.
“How are we supposed to live,” he asked.
The story made it to the national papers but overall it was a trouble free visit for the Taoiseach.
He was confident enough about the water charges even though his partners in Government, the Labour Party ministers were meeting in Dublin at the same time, and could not decide on anything.
“It is an issue we are working over and we will make sure it is as affordable as possible,” he said, “so that Irish Water can provide infrastructure to deal with treatment works and the leaking of 40 per cent of the water supply.”
He confirmed - as reported in last week’s Dundalk Democrat - that the Narrow Water bridge project is still alive and it will be raised at the June meeting of the North-South ministerial meeting which will be chaired by himself.
Before this, the Taoiseach met the party faithful and some of the Fine Gael candidates standing in the local elections.
“And who are you?” the Taoiseach asked young John McGahon of the well-known McGahon family, who indignantly replied: What do you mean who am I? I’m John McGahon.
“Of course you are,” the Taoiseach said, recovering as only a taoiseach can.
“What lovely weather we’re having here in Dundalk,” he said, changing the subject.
No flies on him. He knew where he was. The Wee County. After all, the last Mayo man to win an All-Ireland medal, won it playing for Louth.
Then another voice shouted:
“I’m the most senior Fine Gael man here.” This was John McGuinness from Blackrock who was not going to be ignored
And the Taoiseach turned quickly and replied:
“Ah, there you are John. “The most senior man, and a great tenor as well.”
Then he chatted seriously with Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick and Cllr Martin Murnahan and had his photo taken with Linus English and Linus’s daughter Leanne.
Minister Fergus O’Dowd rang ahead to see if Drogheda was ready. Mairead McGuinness was there too and yes the Taoiseach is confident McGuinness and Jim Higgins to do well in the European elections: “two formidable candidates” and he will rely on the maturity of the electorate to make the wise and right choices.
So the polls don’t bother him.
Then he cheerfully sat in for a photo with young students and had a warm worrd with the grand master himself, Brendan McGahon, before heading up the street to confrontation, and then away to Drogheda.