By Eoghan Cormican
He may be languishing at 9% in the polls, but there was no doubting the enthusiasm and energy radiating from Fine Gael’s presidential candidate Gay Mitchell as he made a whistle stop tour of DCU, the second such candidate to visit the college in the past fortnight.
Mitchell’s first port of call was the Volunteer expedition in the Mahony Hall, where the Malahide native flirted with several of the floating voters before taking time out to speak with The College View, quick to add that his daughter is a past student of the college.
Niceties aside, it was down to the real issues and Mitchell was keen to stress the importance of rebuilding confidence in the country as a means to achieving recovery.
“It is important we restore confidence in the country and if we can do that we will be on the cusp of recovery. I hope to bring to the fore my experience as Minister for EU affairs and my 26 years as a TD.
“It is about bringing experience to the role, because it is a political job, it’s not party political but an apolitical one.”
Discussing the Prime Time debate Mitchell was reluctant to be drawn on the bizarre comments of Dana Rosemary Scallon stating “those comments have nothing to do with the campaign. There have been no real stories in this campaign so people are building on nonsense.”
Mitchell swiftly played down the notion that Fine Gael had been deliberately criticising Martin McGuinness, adding that he himself had been a target since the first shots were fired in the race for the Aras.
“For three months or so I was being targeted and I am entitled to ask Martin McGuinness why he will not declare that he is the Sinn Fein candidate. The questions need to be asked of his background.”
Recent polls have suggested that the MEP won’t come within an ass’ roar of triumphing in the election, but Mitchell was surprisingly optimistic about his chances.
“I’ll head the poll because substance will win in the end. We’re going to win this presidency. Support from across the country is very strong. The real poll will be out in two weeks. At the last presidential election voters didn’t decide until the last week, 25% didn’t decide until polling day.”
From there, Mitchell and his bright yellow entourage of YFG’s made their way to the 1838 Lounge where the Fine Gael man spoke with members of Esoc about the four pillars on which economic confidence can be restored –rights, responsibility, enterprising spirit and social justice.
Chairman of DCU YFG Stephen Byrne expressed his hope that Gay Mitchell would carry the day on October 27. “We’re delighted to have Gay here on campus; it’s great for the college and YFG.”
In recent times, Mitchell said he would jump off O’Connell Bridge if asked to smile again. There might be cause for that when the votes are counted on October 28, but not on this occasion, for it was energy, enthusiasm and smiles all round.