I am 45 years of age. My sister and I grew up in Douglas in the days when it really was a village. Every week we walked to the library together and going to the tennis club behind O’Donovan’s garage became the highlight of a Saturday. My parents still live in Douglas and despite how it has grown to become a busy suburb of the city, it has retained so much of its village atmosphere.
In 1997, when working and earning for myself, I fell in love with a little house in Monkstown. In the heart of the village, it was nestled beside the village shop and a stone’s throw from the shores of Cork Harbour. Here I settled, a cat moved in and soon we became a family.
I met my husband and the family began to grow. Ten years later, we had to admit that our little house was no longer big enough and we moved to the town next door, Passage West. We now have five children, two dogs, two cats and a raft of smaller four-legged and feathery friends that make our house home.
What’s my professional background?
I am a qualified engineer. When I was practising as an environmental consultant, I worked alongside government departments in drawing up policies for best practice in sludge management. Sludge is the waste that is left behind after sewerage and other types of wastewater are treated. I worked with local authorities around the country preparing plans for how best they might manage sludges and slurries produced in their counties. During this time, I learned so clearly that it is vital to involve people in planning and decision making. Policies involving people will succeed only if the people are brought on board when those policies are being made.
What’s my political experience?
I have been an elected member of Passage West/Monkstown Town Council for the past 10 years. I stood for election as an independent candidate and I continue to have no party allegiance whatsoever. Over the 10 years, I have found that party politics can stand in the way of good decisions. I have also found how valuable community-level government can be. Because it is part of the community, it is totally aware of the needs of that community and can respond in a way that centralised decision-making cannot.
Why am I running in the local elections?
I am very angry that community-level government is being abolished. This government-led decision was made without consultation of any kind, either with elected representatives or with the people generally. Town Councils are limited largely by their limited powers and budget. I believe government should be devolving power and decision-making to communities, not taking it away. The country’s gradual move towards centralisation of so many facets of society means that people are being managed. But the government’s role should be to act on behalf of the people and to facilitate people themselves in doing the managing. I want people to be able to reconnect with local representatives, local authorities and government. I certainly won’t achieve that by standing on the sidelines so I am actively seeking change.
What sort of change exactly am I talking about?
I want to see each person within each community to feel part of that community.
I want each community to feel part of and supported by local government.
I want elected representatives of the people at local government level to feed to central government what assistance people need through funding and policy to make their lives within their communities work for them.
I want politics to be about people. Not parties, politicians’ salaries or “jobs for the boys”. Politics about people is what democracy is all about.
How do I feel about women in politics?
Since I believe sincerely that politics is about people, then I also believe it is essential that government at both local and national level includes both men and women. Society in Ireland is 49% male and 51% female. If government at any level is to represent the people, then it follows that it must include men and women in equal numbers.
Scoil Bhríde Eglantine, Ballinlough
Regina Mundi College, Douglas
St. Aloysius School, Sharman Crawford Street
Third level education:
Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering (University College, Cork)
Master’s Degree in Engineering Science (University College, Cork)
Consulting environmental engineer, self-employed (2000 – 2004)
Principal consulting engineer, Fehily Timoney & Co. (1997 – 2000)
Director, Irish National Petroleum Corporation (1997 – 2000)
Consultant, Mitchelstown Renewable Energy Co-Operative (1997)
Researcher and Project Manager, University College Cork (1995 – 1997)
Elected member of Passage West Town Council (2004 – 2014)
Elected member of Cork County Council (2014 to present)