After the first day of last year’s general election count in Nemo Rangers GAA club, Solidarity TD Mick Barry wasn’t sure if he would retain his seat.
It was possible, but he predicted some “twists and turns”, before a clear outcome was known.
Mr Barry did, however, retain his seat in Cork North Central, in an election that he said was “all about a mood for change”.
He was re-elected to the Dail on the 14th, and final count.
“Everywhere my team went, people were telling us, in unprecedented numbers, that they weren’t going to vote for Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael,” Mr Barry said. “The problem for us was that people were swinging heavily towards Sinn Féin, as the biggest party opposing the big two, and we were in danger of being squeezed.
“But there was strong recognition for our track record of fighting for the interests of working-class people and that saw us through in the end,” Mr Barry told The Echo.
He said the year has been difficult, but rewarding, and lists standing on picket lines with the Debenhams workers as one of his highlights.
“I’m proud to have stood on their picket lines in Patrick St and Mahon Point and to have spoken up in support of them in the Dáil.
“I’m also proud to have campaigned for justice for the Leaving Cert students, both last year and this,” he added, saying it was time to “abolish this exam and go for a policy of open access: Investing big and opening up third level to all who want to attend and study there”.
Mr Barry’s outdoor campaigning work has taken a back seat because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but said new methods of working online took precedence. “And, for the first time, I’ve had to deal with TikTok,” Mr Barry said. “On foot of my efforts to be a voice for Leaving Cert students, I’m told that videos mentioning me on TikTok now have a quarter of a million views!
“And if you look at them, you’ll see that this generation has a sense of humour that can only be described as hilarious,” he added.
He describes as “unfortunate” that the government that was formed didn’t reflect “the desire for change”.
“But I did manage to follow through on my ambition to be a strong voice for workers rights and for young people, and I aim to do the same again in 2021.”