O’Donoghue is new name in pol­i­tics

Enniscorthy Guardian - - NEWS - By PÁDRAIG BYRNE

WHILE an elec­tion could be some ways off just yet, a new face in Wex­ford pol­i­tics is de­ter­mined to hit the ground run­ning as he of­fi­cially launched his cam­paign for elec­tion to Dáil Eire­ann. David­stown na­tive Ger­ald O’Donoghue an­nounced his in­ten­tion to run in the next gen­eral elec­tion un­der the ban­ner of Renua Ire­land, one of Ire­land’s new­est po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

It’s prov­ing to be an ex­tremely busy time for Ger and his fam­ily. Along with his wife Maura and their four chil­dren, aged from nine months to five years, they are cur­rently in the process of mov­ing to the New Ross area from the Bal­lagh where the lived for seven years, which will help with his com­mute as he is cur­rently work­ing in Water­ford. In fact, the David­stown’s man’s com­mute played a big part in his de­ci­sion to en­ter the po­lit­i­cal arena.

‘I was work­ing in Dublin for four or five years,’ he re­called. ‘I was leav­ing at 6 a.m. be­fore the kids got up and I wouldn’t be home un­til 7.30 or 8 p.m. and they’d be gone to bed. Places in Wex­ford were be­ing turned into car parks as peo­ple parked up and car-pooled or took pub­lic trans­port to work in Dublin. The busiest parts of the county were petrol sta­tions off the main roads. I was frus­trated that I couldn’t get a job as an en­gi­neer in the county. This is some­thing that I want to ad­dress. We need to get jobs back into County Wex­ford.’

‘We’ve been ig­nored by the IDA and there are few op­por­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sional jobs in Wex­ford,’ he con­tin­ued. ‘Peo­ple are go­ing off to col­lege and very few re­turn. Those who do are like me and have to com­mute out of the county. It’s a real brain drain. A big part of this is ed­u­ca­tion and Wex­ford needs a good univer­sity or a sig­nif­i­cant third-level cam­pus with a fo­cus on STEM sub­jects. We all know that the IDA fol­lows uni­ver­si­ties for re­duced costs on re­search and de­vel­op­ment and things. There was an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing with St Se­nan’s there and those in author­ity sat on their hands. It’s easy for the IDA to ig­nore Wex­ford when there are no proper links to ed­u­ca­tion and this is some­thing that needs to be ad­dressed.’

Ini­tially when ap­proached by Renua about run­ning for elec­tion, with a young fam­ily, Ger was re­luc­tant to throw his hat into the ring. How­ever, he be­lieves he is a good match for the fledg­ling party and can achieve a lot for Wex­ford.

‘I do feel strongly about pol­i­tics and how Wex­ford is lack­ing,’ he said. ‘As well as that I agreed with a lot of Renua poli­cies. I’m strongly “Pro-Life” and Renua were pre­pared to take a stand on the eighth amend­ment. As well as that, Renua aims to re­ward work­ers and make it worth­while for peo­ple to go out there and work.’

While tak­ing a strong stance on the eighth amend­ment is some­thing that some sea­soned po­lit­i­cal voices are re­luc­tant to do, Ger be­lieves it’s im­por­tant and that tak­ing a stance will pay off in the long run.

‘I be­lieve it will,’ he said. ‘A lot of peo­ple are afraid to stand by their con­vic­tions. I think a lot of peo­ple in the gov­ern­ment are afraid that they won’t be seen as ‘mod­ern’ if they come out as ‘pro-life’ and that it’s not a cool and lib­eral view­point. Renua haven’t been afraid to voice an opin­ion on this and I think it’s im­por­tant to stand by your con­vic­tions.’

In fact, Ger be­lieves that there will be no elec­tion un­til the de­bate on the eighth amend­ment is done and dusted.

‘I don’t see an elec­tion hap­pen­ing un­til af­ter next sum­mer at the ear­li­est,’ he said. ‘I think it won’t be un­til af­ter the elec­tion on the eighth amend­ment. Fianna Fáil don’t want to tackle that topic. They want the gov­ern­ment to do their dirty work and are hop­ing that it will pass and that they can walk into an elec­tion af­ter­wards with­out hav­ing taken the rap for it. I do think we could see an elec­tion next sum­mer though.’

Be­ing from the En­nis­cor­thy area, O’Donoghue faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion. Fianna Fáil’s James Browne has car­ried on from his fa­ther and was com­fort­ably elected last time out, while Fine Gael’s Paul Ke­hoe car­ries with him a wealth of po­lit­i­cal and min­is­te­rial ex­pe­ri­ence. Adding to this Sinn Féin’s Johnny Mythen only nar­rowly missed out last time around, mean­ing that the area could be a tough nut for a new name to crack. Ger is op­ti­mistic, how­ever.

‘I be­lieve it can be done,’ he said. ‘If I can get the mes­sage of Renua and what we are try­ing to do in Wex­ford out there. En­nis­cor­thy may have three strong, well-known, high-pro­file politi­cians, but it hasn’t been well served in re­la­tion to job cre­ation. Wex­ford is an un­em­ploy­ment black-spot and En­nis­cor­thy is the black-spot of the black-spot. I think there is room for change and peo­ple will see that.’

Go­ing for­ward, Ger is keen to get Renua’s mes­sage out and show there’s a new po­lit­i­cal face in town.

WE NEED TO GET JOBS BACK INTO COUNTY WEX­FORD. WE’VE BEEN IG­NORED BY THE IDA AND THERE ARE FEW OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES FOR PRO­FES­SIONAL JOBS IN WEX­FORD. PEO­PLE ARE GO­ING OFF TO COL­LEGE AND VERY FEW RE­TURN

Ger­ald O’Donoghue with his wife Maura and John Leahy, RENUA Ire­land Party Leader, at the cam­paign launch in En­nis­cor­thy’s Athenaeum.

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