Joke candidate battles Ireland’s ‘shamrocracy’


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 - Page 6

Terry Ghusto says he is standing in tomorrow’s Irish parliamentary elections with simple campaign pledges: “Fix all the wonky pavements, abolish the military and get a proper job.”

It’s a ridiculous stance, the joker says, but no worse than the prevailing “shamrocracy” in bailed-out Ireland.

Ghusto does not go unnoticed among the suits and clipped haircuts who go door-knocking for votes.

To start with there’s the car: a tiny, bright-red Fiat 500 covered in giant stickers of the offbeat candidate.

And if that doesn’t give it away there’s his dress sense: An emerald-green tweed jacket, coupled with a pale shirt and an orange tie. Every day, Ghusto dresses himself up in the Republic of Ireland’s colors.

Not that he needs to. His leprachaun-like bushy ginger beard leaves no doubt as to the blood flowing in his veins.

However, his originality doesn’t stop there.

“The first thing I’ll implement is fix all the wonky pavements,” he said when asked about his program for government. “I’d like a proper job, I’d like to see my house fixed, I’d abolish the military and I wouldn’t mind getting back with my wife.”

However, even though he does not appear on the ballot papers, Ghusto reckons he would have a good chance of making it to parliament.

“A lot of people are taking me on face value and say they would consider me, simply because I’m the son of a postman,” he said.

Real name Gary Bermingham, Terry Ghusto is the main character in a satirical film coming out on the Internet tomorrow on polling day.

The mock documentary is called Shamrocracy, a mixture of Ireland’s shamrock emblem and the “shambles” that is left of a country which has been thrown to the wall by the economic crisis and politicians who are “like kids arguing in the garden,” said Andrew Keogh, who co-produced the short film.

The mini-movie seeks to “articulate the kind of rage” Irish citizens feel towards their leaders, “puppets” who have plunged the republic into an “absurd” situation, he said.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s government agreed the 85 billion euro (US$115-billion) bailout package with the IMF and the EU as a debt crisis threatened to engulf the eurozone country.

Terry Ghusto stands as a spokesman for a generation sickened by having to pay of the debts of reckless banks bailed out by the state.

“Irish people shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of this. It’s the working class man who is taking the heat on this one,” he said.

“Nobody in this country has money. Our children’s children are all going to be crippled for the future. It gets me fuming,” Ghusto said in his campaign headquarters: a house belonging to the local authority in a run-down area of north Dublin.

Ghusto is trying to spark a revolution through humor, with the help of his campaign director Bobby Channels.

At the start of this month, Channels, an out-of-work roadsweeper, stood up during a campaign meeting being held by main opposition Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny — whom polls show is likely to become prime minister after the election — to brand him a buffoon.

“I believe the politicians are lying to us, all of them. Those lads up there are the rich guys and we are the little lads with a few euros to rub together,” said Channels, whose real name is Andrew Travers.

Just like his character, Travers is jobless.