Official Launch Speech
To each and every one of you a sincere “Thank you” for coming out here tonight. I would like at the outset to gratefully acknowledge the presence of Brian Crowley MEP and of course John O’Donoghue who served as minister of Justice and Minister of Art, Sport and Tourism as well as Ceann Comhairle. The O’Donoghue family have given 54 years of sterling service to public life and continue that service today. John O’Donoghue has left a fine legacy from his time in cabinet with the Legal Aid Board here in Cahersiveen and the Arts Department in Killarney. Two fine examples of decentralisation more of which we need today.
I would hope to follow the great example given by Cllr Mary O’Donoghue who worked so well with Cllr Dan Barry in meeting the needs of this area for so many years. This is no time for petty politics we need good candidates working together to retain what services remain and row back on the retrograde steps that have been taken with the removal of government services to date.
I will not let you down when it comes to effort, work ethic and commitment in this campaign and more importantly beyond the campaign itself I will do everything possible to meet the very serious challenges we face together as a community and as a region.
I agreed to put my name forward because I am not the kind of person that sits on the fence and abdicates responsibility to others to make our localities function. The truth is we need to remove those metaphorical fences as we can’t afford to have passengers or to have people disengaged rather we need people to engage with every aspect of community life.
Neither can we afford to have divisions that weaken us. Across all parties we need to work together to achieve our common goal, namely The Revitalisation of our communities and the creation of a fairer more vibrant and sustainable society.
Rural Ireland is at a crucial tipping point which is why it is so urgent that we focus clearly and cohesively on the issues at hand.
We need to argue loudly and as one when faceless civil servants look to shut down crucial services as they have already done and are continuing to do, by withdrawing the administration of social welfare payments from post offices. We need to support our post offices in this fight and we need to support our post offices in our actions and consciously use their services and products if we want to ensure their survival.
Likewise with local business and enterprise we have to argue and campaign to ensure that Leader funding is accessed by the people and areas it was devised for when the programme was drawn up in the 1980’s. This fund has been placed in jeopardy by realignment and Europe may well tell Minister Hogan that the monies will be withdrawn entirely if they are not allocated for their intended purpose.
We currently have in our communities very able, capable and innovative business entrepreneurs. Many of these are now being told by SKDP which is an organisation that has been a shining example of how to serve community that they cannot accept applications at the present time due to the Leader Funding situation.
I met one such young entrepreneur on Valentia Island yesterday who has a business idea that stems from the Dark Skies Initiative and he was told sorry no funding is available. This is a young man in his 20’s that may be another casualty to emigration if the vital grant support and business set up guidance is not found. We must shout No to this and ensure we support and encourage local business and enterprise where ever possible.
We need to see every euro we spend as a ballot paper we cast. When we spend that euro locally we are voting local when we spend it outside of the locality we are allowing money to slip out of our local economy and that does not benefit any of us in the long term. I know the arguments that are made about cost savings when you shop elsewhere etc. and I also realise that to counter that argument our local business community needs to ensure the best value possible for the consumer. And in line with that we have to ensure that overheads placed on those businesses by local authorities and revenue are reduced so as to allow and promote business competiveness.
We are being asked to choose nine counsellors from 15 declared candidates on May 23rd to form the next Kerry County Council. We need to ensure that we choose wisely and well as it is the future of our area that will be directly affected on the basis of those choices.
Please ensure that those nine seats will be filled by capable, hard-working, community focused people with integrity. We need a Council that serves all of its constituents whether they are in urban, sub urban or rural areas and we need government both local and national that does not discriminate against any of those sectors.
Good government is not when a few are afforded what they want but rather when all are afforded what they need.
We need access to government agencies on the ground here in South and West Kerry we need to be able to walk into a county enterprise office in Cahersiveen or a Full time Failte Ireland office in Waterville or Dingle. We need Leader Funding to be administered by the partnerships in the tried and trusted way they have been doing with excellent results. We need central government to see our areas not as reservations for the natives or as an extravagance that they no longer wish to subsidise but as areas to be afforded that same status and its citizens the same rights as those in Inner city areas that were allocated multi millions in regeneration funds. Did anyone suggest that those packages were subsidies we couldn’t afford? No, they did not, because they were not. Regeneration where ever it is needed must be carried out. Our area is in need of similar levels of investment to ensure revitalisation and we need to come together across all party lines to argue for that approach. We urgently need improved Broadband Infrastructure. An industry that can thrive and have no negative effects on our environment and tourism potential is the It and Technology sector. FEXCO is a shining example of such a business and in the midst of much bad news for our region of late it is positive to note that Brian McCarthy and his company have just purchased a Silicon Valley Company called FLASH IZ which is an Internet payments system and this will in turn result in more jobs in their Kerry centre. How many more businesses like these can be created when adequate Broadband is in place? Yet we need that service now and not in five or ten years’ time. Now
We do not want hand outs we want a leg up and we will be able to sustain and develop our communities when we have these needs met.
If I am to win a seat on Kerry County Council I need the support of each and every one of you. Your No 1 will be crucial to me on May 23rd. We are facing into a bleak future for the entire Iveragh peninsula and all areas of South & West Kerry if we do not act now and act together. We are in the 11th hour with the fight to save vital services. Your vote is needed now more than ever before. Put your community first by voting your community First candidate No 1.
Go raibh mile maith agibh go leir.