Campaign sign crosses ocean to Ireland

Andrew Robinson
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Belfast woman finds Fabian Manning artifact on beach in County Donegal

Sen. Fabian Manning says his political career has taken him overseas at times, but the latest Fabian Manning sighting in western Europe is a little out of the ordinary.

Janice Palmer of Belfast, Northern Ireland, holds an election sign for former Avalon district Conservative candidate Fabian Manning. She found it this summer while holidaying on Tramore Beach in the Republic of Ireland.

Janice Palmer was out for a July holiday in County Donegal on the west coast of the Republic of Ireland. She was staying in a caravan (the European word for “trailer” or “camper”) near the village of Rossbeg, close to Tramore Beach in Loughros More Bay.

A resident of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Palmer went for a walk on the beach every day during her holiday. On one of those days, she came across a blue and white sign with a large capital C surrounding a maple leaf.

The sign said, “Vote Fabian Manning — Avalon.”

“I found it in amongst the seaweed,” said Palmer, speaking with The Tele­gram by phone from her home in Belfast. “It was literally just at the water’s edge with seaweed around it, so it obviously had come in from the Atlantic.”

Given the beach is typically kept clean, Palmer suspects the sign washed ashore not long before she found it.

How long ago that sign left the shores of Newfoundland to start its 3,000-kilometre journey to Ireland is debateable. Manning has run for the Conservative party in Avalon on three occasions, winning on his first try in 2006 before losing twice to Liberal Scott Andrews, in 2008 and 2011.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Manning to the Senate in 2009. Manning resigned from the Senate in 2011 so he could once again run for the Conservatives in a federal election. After Manning failed to defeat Andrews, Harper appointed him back to the Senate.

The Canadian maple leaf on the sign caught Palmer’s attention. Election signs are as commonplace in Ireland as anywhere else, according to Palmer, but she knew by the name on it that this was not a local sign.

Lacking Internet access while on holiday, Palmer wasn’t able to conduct research about the sign’s origins until she got back to Belfast. She admits to having no prior knowledge of Newfoundland and Labrador’s existence on the map.

“I just thought it was a wee bit of an interest to somebody that I find it,” she said.

Palmer did send an email to the address listed on the senator’s website, but she did not receive a response.

Speaking to The Telegram Monday evening, Manning confirmed that he did in fact see the picture she sent. Manning suspects his family and friends would not believe such a story if not for that evidence.

“It’s a long ways away, but I was delighted to hear the news that somebody had picked up a campaign sign on a beach in Ireland,” he said. “It’s interesting how things can get around. After the election, I ended up in the Senate and my sign ended up in Ireland. I’m not sure who did the best of that.”

Manning has visited Ireland on several occasions, and both sides of his family descend from there.

“It was intriguing to hear my sign had made it to the Emerald Isle, knowing that’s where my forefathers on both sides of my family are from.”

If anything, he said, the discovery of the sign may give him the incentive to take another trip to Ireland in order to visit County Donegal and see the beach in Loughros More Bay.

This is not the first time an election candidate’s sign has made its way from Newfoundland to the shores of Ireland. In 2007, a sign encouraging voters to support Liberal Scott Simms was reportedly discovered on the Irish isle of Achill. The Ottawa Citizen reported that the sign most likely came from the 2004 general election, given it mentioned the Bonavista riding, which was subsequently renamed Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor.

Palmer’s sign remains inside her caravan in County Donegal, which she plans to soon drive back to Belfast, given the summer season is coming to an end. She recalled that another person with a caravan in the area once found a message in a bottle on the beach. It came from a cruise ship.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Conservatives, Ottawa Citizen

Geographic location: Ireland, Belfast, County Donegal Newfoundland and Labrador Avalon Rossbeg Tramore Beach Loughros More Bay.A Northern Ireland Atlantic Emerald Isle Loughros More Bay.This Bonavista

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Recent comments

  • logy bay
    September 10, 2013 - 09:43

    to bad Lapper Fabian didn't stay in Ireland

  • P F Murphy
    September 10, 2013 - 08:28

    "... who did the better of that." There are only two things - Fabian and the sign. Just another example of the value of having a multi-million dollar Senators to ensure our legislation is perfect before it is passed into law?

  • ledton
    September 10, 2013 - 08:18

    "but I was delighted to hear the news that somebody had picked up a campaign sign on a beach in Ireland" Yikes. Great news that the plastic pollution from your electional campaign has made it international. Delighted indeed. Time for by-laws restricting campaign signage to private property only. Or maybe start enforcing existing litter laws.

  • Melissa
    September 10, 2013 - 08:16

    I believe the candidates should have to buy all their signs from the same place and then return the signs at the end of the election to confirm they were all picked up. The number of signs that turn up in the middle of green space here in the city months and even years later, or apparently in Ireland years later is a disgrace. Either candidates should be held responsible for the signage or they shouldn't be allowed to place them. In the days of Facebook and Twitter there is no need for the permanent garbage those signs create!

  • Apple Jacks
    September 10, 2013 - 07:01

    It looks like Fabin Manning needs to clean up his act!

  • Applejacks
    September 10, 2013 - 06:20

    It looks like Fabian Manning needs to clean up his act!