My doorbell rang in mid-afternoon today. When I opened the door I saw an apparently mild mannered man, of about my own age, who was distributing political fliers.
He introduced himself as the father of Terence Flanagan. The name rang a bell. Terence had been a Fine Gael candidate in my constituency in the 2007 Irish general election. In fact I had included Terence in my images from that election on my home page at the time. Terence's sin had been to drown the whole area in mega-decibels on election day from a Tannoy mounted on top of a vehicle which travelled every inch of the estate.
How this brash anti-social behaviour was to garner him votes was a mystery to me. The principal result, as far as I was concerned, was to deprive a very sick patient of a much needed rest in the middle of the day.
I told the father at the door to keep his fliers, that his son had been guilty of the disgraceful behaviour, described above, and that I had complained the son to FG party headquarters at the time.
"Well, he got elected didn't he!" said the father with a sneer, and then gratuitously added "You voted Fianna Fáil. I speak to lots of people, I know you did".
I reminded the father that I had, over the course of a lifetime, voted for every party in the State at one time or another.
The father then turned on his heels, and went away muttering "You voted Fianna Fáil".
I shouted after him that he had no business telling me who I voted for.
The point of my posting this incident is to illustrate the degree to which Irish politics is still tribal to a large extent. I hadn't voted for the Fine Gael tribe, so I must have voted for the Fianna Fáil tribe. Or was it just that the most insulting remark the father could think up was to accuse me of having voted Fianna Fáil. If it was his aim to provoke me in this way, he certainly succeeded.
When he had gone, I was kicking myself for not telling him that, in the course of the same election campaign, I ran Michael Woods, the Fianna Fáil candidate, from my gate with what would have passed for a chainsaw at the time.
The father was wearing a cream shirt. Perhaps this was an undercover operation.