In what political observers commentators see as a sign of the times, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty is now using the offices once occuppied by former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan in Donegal town.
There were more than a few wry smiles as Deputy Doherty and an entourage of more than 50 supporters officially moved into the offices at Pier 1 in Donegal town on Friday last.
In the last general election Ms Coughlan was one of the shock high profiles members of the Fianna Fáil party to lose her seat while Deputy Doherty retained the seat he had won in spectacular fashion in the earlier by-election.
This latest move by Sinn Féin has been viewed in some quarters as a more than ironic metaphor for the ‘changing of the guard’ in Donegal as Pearse Doherty literally steps in to the space once occupied by Ms Coughlan and a team of office workers.
Deputy Doherty however, wasn’t making any comment on the choreography of his move to set up in his former politcal foe’s office.
He told the Democrat the explanation was much more mundane: “Convenience is the only reason we have moved in to these offices,” he stated. He said the office was chosen primarily because of its suitability as a constituency outreach clinic.
He added: “We were looking for a premises in the area, and this office was the most convenient. We already have full-time offices in Ballybofey and Gweedore. I feel it is really important that people can come to us about the issues that matter to them. People have been using our other offices a lot, and can always contact us by phone, but sometimes they need to bring a form or a file in, and so we decided to open this office to facilitate as many people as possible.
The office will not be open full time and will be used for Deputy Doherty’s ‘clinics’. Judging by the numbers who filed into the offices last Friday, it’s going to be a very busy office when it is open.