Do­herty lays out party’s vi­sion for Co Wex­ford

Wexford People - - NEWS - By PÁDRAIG BYRNE

WHILE most ob­servers be­lieve that a gen­eral elec­tion could be some way off yet, Sinn Féin are hop­ing to pick up some early mo­men­tum with yet another high pro­file vis­i­tor to Co Wex­ford. Fol­low­ing a re­cent visit from party leader Mary Lou McDon­ald, the party’s deputy leader in the Dáil ar­rived in En­nis­cor­thy re­cently of last week to sam­ple the fa­mous south-eastern sunshine and to hear the views of the peo­ple on the ground.

Among the ar­eas on the itin­er­ary for Pearse Do­herty were St Pa­trick’s Spe­cial School and the 1798 Cen­tre, places which the Done­gal TD has strong views on.

‘Ba­si­cally, I’m here in Wex­ford to en­gage with the com­mu­nity and to lis­ten to their con­cerns,’ he said. ‘We will be start­ing to put to­gether our al­ter­na­tive bud­get and we’d like to see ar­eas which are per­haps be­ing ne­glected by the cur­rent gov­ern­ment and also to take a look at some suc­cess sto­ries and see what we can learn.’

Ne­glect is per­haps an ap­pro­pri­ate word. Sand­wiched in be­tween Dublin and Water­ford, there is a per­cep­tion that Co Wex­ford has been for­got­ten, with IDA vis­its down on those en­joyed by some of our neigh­bours and a lack of ma­jor in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tional in­fra­struc­ture a par­tic­u­lar gripe among many.

‘Well you can see the chal­lenges even walk­ing around the streets of En­nis­cor­thy here,’ Deputy Do­herty said. ‘There are a num­ber of com­mer­cial units closed and it needs a fresh breath of life and an in­vest­ment in strate­gic in­fra­struc­ture. Ross­lare Euro­port doesn’t ap­pear in the Gov­ern­ment Plan to 2040 and I think that gives you a good in­sight into the gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion in re­la­tion to this county.’

Cllr Johnny Mythen brought Deputy Do­herty on a whis­tle-stop tour of En­nis­cor­thy, stop­ping in at St Pa­trick’s Spe­cial School along the way. Al­though progress has been made in re­cent months in terms of get­ting work un­der way on a new school build­ing, Deputy Do­herty lamented the con­di­tions en­dured by staff and stu­dents there.

‘The fact that they are wait­ing 15 years for a new build­ing is un­be­liev­able,’ he said. ‘They are shame­ful con­di­tions that the pupils and staff have had to en­dure. If it weren’t for the pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion of the staff there, it would be very dif­fi­cult for them to carry on.’

Sip­ping on a cof­fee in the sum­mer sunshine at the 1798 Cen­tre, Deputy Do­herty was also well clued in on the cen­tre’s pend­ing clo­sure later this year.

‘To tell you the truth I find it very sad,’ he said. ‘To walk in on a beau­ti­ful day like to­day and see our flag flut­ter­ing in a Na­tional Cen­tre, it’s a beau­ti­ful place. To sell the cen­tre off to pri­vate en­ter­prise with­out a clear in­di­ca­tion of where the ex­hi­bi­tion will be housed, with all due re­spect, I think is a wrong de­ci­sion by the coun­cil. This is a vi­tal part of our his­tory and to be an af­ter-thought is sim­ply not good enough. I com­mend Cllr Mythen and his col­leagues for voic­ing their op­po­si­tion to this.’

Deputy Do­herty also com­mended his party col­league on cam­paign­ing for a ‘yes’ vote in the re­cent ref­er­en­dum. While Wex­ford re­turned a ‘Yes’ vote by a com­fort­able mar­gin, Do­herty’s home con­stituency of Done­gal was the only county to re­turn a ‘no’.

‘It was ob­vi­ously dis­ap­point­ing yeah,’ he said. ‘I’m dis­ap­pointed for the women of Done­gal who came for­ward and shared their sto­ries. But I think we can take heart that in Done­gal, over 110 of 250 polling sta­tions re­turned a ‘yes’ vote. Given the fact that in ‘83 Done­gal was one of the most vo­cal coun­ties for the in­ser­tion of the amend­ment in the first place, I think we have come a long way.’

Fi­nally, Deputy Do­herty was heart­ened to learn of a Pales­tinian flag ap­pear­ing pe­ri­od­i­cally over Vine­gar Hill in re­cent weeks. An out­spo­ken sup­porter of the Pales­tinian cause and one of those call­ing for the ex­pul­sion of the Is­raeli am­bas­sador, he called for con­tin­ued pres­sure to be ap­plied on the gov­ern­ment.

‘The slaugh­ter of un­armed Pales­tini­ans has been cap­tured on our screens in re­cent weeks,’ he said. ‘I think we need a re­sponse from the Ir­ish gov­ern­ment. The Pales­tinian Flag has flown over our County House in Done­gal for some time and I think it’s im­por­tant that peo­ple do ex­press sup­port. The so­lu­tion is di­a­logue and peace, not vi­o­lence and I think that, in a way, if the Ir­ish gov­ern­ment stays silent, it is cul­pa­ble in th­ese atroc­i­ties.’

Cllr Mythen and Deputy Do­herty then hosted a meet­ing with mem­bers of the pub­lic in The Bailey on Thurs­day night where view­points were ex­changed and no doubt it gave them an in­di­ca­tion of what kind of task faces the En­nis­cor­thy can­di­date as he aims to suc­ceed where he nar­rowly missed out last time by win­ning a seat in the Dáil.

Sinn Féin deputy leady Pearse Do­herty TD with Cllr Johnny Mythen at the Na­tional 1798 Cen­tre in En­nis­cor­thy.

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