Michael Noonan’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that e-voting machines could be a novelty factor in pubs got few Number Ones from publicans yesterday.
Mr Noonan aired the notion that the 7,500 machines could be an attraction in Irish pubs around the world. He failed to explain, however, how they would be packed and shipped to far-flung venues.
Pub owners were certainly not taking the suggestion in the spirit with which it was delivered by Mr Noonan. He reckons they would give punters and emigrants the chance to vent their electoral anger on 7,500 electronic machines rather than turning to jukeboxes and gaming machines.
Mr Noonan said: “Fianna Fail thought it would not be fashionable, as Bertie (Ahern) said, to be ‘using the peann luaidhe’ any more and that you needed to have a hi-tech machine.
“But when the hi-tech machine was checked out it didn’t do the job that it was supposed to do so the system was flawed. They are valueless now.
“There may be a market for them in Irish-themed pubs across the world,” he added in a last minute sales pitch.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan has already admitted they might not even get any offers for the machines — but they will still go to tender before the end of the month. He said he wants to “finally draw a line” under the fiasco.
“The market is to be tested to see if there are any interested parties that may want to buy the machines,” he said.
“While being optimistic we also need to be realistic. It is possible that no reasonable or acceptable offer for sale will be received.”
But many emigrant pub owners aren’t impressed with the offer.
“Why doesn’t Mr Noonan try and sell them in Limerick (his home town) and see how he gets on there,” said Ciaran Staunton, who owns and runs two pubs in New York.
“And if he does well there he can bring them worldwide then. He’s stuck with some lemons and he feels he can do nothing else so he sees the emigrant as a cash cow. And that’s very disappointing.
“What makes him think they can make a mistake and fob it off on us over here?”
The Irish Pub in midtown Manhattan was also sceptical that their US customers will ‘get’ the machines.
“They probably wouldn’t work here because they’re not something our customers would identify with.”
But not all pubs have rejected the idea. Water Poet in East London — which is Irish operated — said they have a name for having quirky furniture and trinkets which are mainly sourced at auctions.
“We have an old weighing scales that was used to weigh jockeys,” said the manager.
“It’s the most used thing in the pub with everyone jumping on it at the end of the night. This pub is known for its random things so the voting machines might work in here.”
Source: Edel Kennedy, Irish Independent