From when I was just a baby tucked into the small cabin of my father’s small boat, Cork Harbour has a constant in my life. It is the backdrop to my most vivid early childhood memories, it was my summertime playground, it was my solace during exams. 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 the harbour. Here I settled, a cat moved in and soon we became a family.
I met my husband through sailing, again on Cork Harbour. 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 Passage West, the town next-door, also on the shores of the harbour. We now have five children, two dogs, two cats and a raft of smaller four-legged and feathery friends that make our house home. The harbour has become as solid a rock in their lives as it is in mine.
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. My decision to leave consultancy was driven largely by the frustration that the plans I was personally putting so much effort into drawing up seemed far too often to be tick-box exercises and not implemented on the ground.
What’s my political experience?
I have been an elected representative from the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District to Cork County Council for the past five years. For the 10 years prior to that, I was an elected member of Passage West Town Council. I stood for election 15 years ago as an independent candidate and I continue to have no party