Cork election candidate campaigns on a hospital trolley but says; 'I could have been on fire and they wouldn’t have noticed'

Cork election candidate campaigns on a hospital trolley but says; 'I could have been on fire and they wouldn’t have noticed'
Sean O'Leary on a hospital trolley at CIT in Bishopstown.

HIS antics have included everything from getting under the covers with a homeless man to travelling across Ireland on a fake drip and hospital trolley.

While certainly entertaining, Independent hopeful Seán O’Leary is not your typical election candidate. 

What remains to be seen is whether he can realise his dream of gaining a seat in each of the 11 constituencies in which he is running. 

At times it seems that even he’s not so sure, but you can’t help but admire his ambition.

“I’m aiming to get 1,000 votes in each constituency,” he said.

 “If I win 11 seats, there would be ten empty ones. It can happen but it probably won’t. That’s only in theory. In reality, it would take an ingenious method. Again, it’s highly unlikely we could rock the system.”

Whether successful or not, the dad of six is determined to enjoy the ride which in this case is an old school camper van built by himself. 

The vehicle includes everything from a toilet and shower to a garage for his bikes. 

It also has a bed which he has been offering up to the homeless for every night of his campaign. His hospital trolley and drip are always in tow, a nod to our broken health system.

“I discovered what I didn’t want to find out,” he said of lying on a hospital trolley in Cork city.

“People didn’t even glance over. I could have been on fire and they wouldn’t have taken any notice.”

"My own form of daftness I can live with. I don’t mind people laughing at me. I’m quite comfortable if I can get the result of people waking up and seeing that we have alternatives to lots of different things," said Sean O'Leary.
"My own form of daftness I can live with. I don’t mind people laughing at me. I’m quite comfortable if I can get the result of people waking up and seeing that we have alternatives to lots of different things," said Sean O'Leary.

This wasn’t Seán’s first strategy to raise awareness of rough sleeping. In the early hours of Christmas Day last year, he sat outside St Mary’s Church on Pope’s Quay in a Santa suit.

“I was the first Santa to ever be mistaken for being homeless at around 7am on Christmas Day.”

Homelessness is an issue the CIT laboratory technician would like to tackle if elected. 

He believes that mentorship is key in helping people build a life for themselves off the street. 

Much of his inspiration stems from a homeless friend who he met while walking the streets of Cork last December.

“It was December and very cold,” Seán explained. 

“I’m a talker so I tend to stay in the same place for a long time. In the time we were chatting I was getting very cold so I got under the duvet with him. It was just a friendship thing.”

The pair hit it off immediately.

“He was feeling very low so I pointed out the positives he had in his life even if at the time they were very few. He says I got him off the streets. 

"He’s in a hostel now and insists it was me who got him off the street. Sometimes I feel he is exaggerating. 

"I’d be telling him to be quiet because what I did for him was only very small. I’ve become something of a mentor to him since and we’re good friends now.

“The good thing is he now knows there is someone thinking of him and he’s not alone.”

The Kerry Pike local has never been worried about what others think. 

“Some people see it as daft but everything is daft. Sitting around in your car for hours stuck in a traffic jam is daft. 

"My own form of daftness I can live with. I don’t mind people laughing at me. I’m quite comfortable if I can get the result of people waking up and seeing that we have alternatives to lots of different things.

Mr O’Leary has pledged to give €1,000 to whoever guesses where he’ll be when the results are announced for Cork North Central.

“They will do this on my Facebook and Instagram account. If nobody guesses correctly, then I’ll give the money to charity.

“When the counts close at 10 am, I’m going to continue this all through Sunday, because really this isn’t about me. I want to continue on out of respect for the issues I stand for.” The dad of six isn’t fazed by the idea of running against Leo Varadkar.

“I’m running in 11 constituencies. I’m even up against the Taoiseach in Dublin West. I had been waiting for him on my hospital trolley outside where he was having lunch in Carrigaline. There was a strong breeze and I was freezing cold but I waited for him to come out. In the end, he went out the emergency back door. “

He spoke at length about the issues he will tackle if elected.

“I’m as concerned about traffic chaos as I am about CO2 emissions,” he said. “People are being poisoned by fumes on the road. I’m concerned about the occupancy level of vehicles. 

"There are too many single-use car [journeys]. I want to see electric cars full of people, not individuals. Unless your bus goes from exactly where you start to where you finish, you are going to take your car.

“We have to be very careful about extra bus routes because it could result in lots of buses with nobody on them.“

He would also like to see less of Ireland’s talent lost to emigration and poor working conditions.

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