O’Donoghue is new name in politics
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.
Gerald O’Donoghue with his wife Maura and John Leahy, RENUA Ireland Party Leader, at the campaign launch in Enniscorthy’s Athenaeum.
Cllr. Oisín O’Connell, Cllr. Anthony Kelly, Mary Lou McDonald, deputy leader of Sinn Féin, Cllr. Johnny Mythen, Liadh Ní Riada MEP, Cllr. Mick Roche and Cllr. Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin at the Wexford Sinn Féin Convention in The Courtyard, Ferns.