Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Hidden Interview

I was recently contacted by a local 'paper and asked the following questions. In the end, I had to cut my answers to about a third of what is here, but I thought I'd share my full answers with the readers of this blog. I think it gives a reasonable articulation of my campaign for election here in Tallaght Central.

I'll make sure to upload the final article to see how our campaign compares with other candidates'.

Why did you decide to run for election? I am involved in politics because I want a radical change for my local community, my country and the world. As a socialist, I believe that the political balance at all levels needs to be shifted away from big business and the powerful, and back to working people and those excluded from society. I believe I can best represent that political viewpoint - and the values to which it aspires - by representing local people at Council level, where so many of the crucial decisions that affect our lives are made.

What is your political history? I have been politically active for more than a decade across local, national and international campaigns. I played an active part in the movement against the war in Iraq and have been particularly involved in human rights campaigns for Palestine and Colombia. I have been active in national campaigns against racism and defending our natural resources from multinational control. Most recently, as a primary school teacher, I have led a campaign entitled "Putting Kids First" which has involved schools and parents in fighting against class size increases and special needs cutbacks. Locally, I am leading the campaign for appropriate development at the McHugh's site in Greenhills and successfully worked with local residents to fend off speculative landgrabs in Greenpark. I joined the Labour Party aged 20 in 2003, and was Chair of the UCD Labour Party and National Communications Office of Labour Youth before joining the Greenhills/Willie Cremins Branch. At 26, this the first time I have stood for election - a point I believe is positive, given the fresh ideas and young person's perspective I bring to this election.

What changes do you plan on making? I am acutely aware of the limited powers of local Councillors, as well as the need to work with other elected representatives and council officials to enact real changes. Politicians are famous for drawing up wishlists they could never possibly enact. My ideas are fiercely ambitious but grounded in reality. I'm also mindful that much of my immediate priorities will be geared towards defending existing services - fighting cutbacks in local schools, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin Bus and other public services. I want to change the Council's housing policy so that more social homes are built, affordable houses are made truly affordable, and a new "Rent to Buy" scheme is adopted by the Council, under which single people or couples can rent a home from the Council with the option of buying it later on, with that same rent money going to pay off the deposit. I also want the Council to be at the heart of a new jobs policy for our community - making sure existing jobs are kept here, and creating new, sustainable employment for local people. Many of these can be delivered under some of the schemes the Labour Party have outlined such as our "Earn and Learn Scheme," where a person can work 3 days a week and is supported in college for two.

Why should people vote for you? Local people are fed up of Fianna Fáil and their disastrous politics. But rather than a change from Fianna Fáil to Fine Gael - from Podge to Rodge - I offer a real alternative. I bring both passion and principle as a young candidate, as well as huge experience in the kind of political campaigns we will need in the time ahead - defending public services, fighting cutbacks and developing communities. There is a fairer, better way to beat the recession, save and create sustainable jobs, and re-energise our local area with community spirit and solidarity - and I want to be at the heart of that as a local Councillor.