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With campaigning already underway for May 24th’s local elections, we’ve asked each of those running to answer five simple questions about where they’ve been, where they’re at, and where they hope to take us all.
Especially given that they’ve all agreed to keep our town and village centres free from campaign posters.
Day by day, each entry will be given the floor, unedited, to express their plans and hopes, their dreams and schemes.
And to keep it fair, we’re doing this alphabetically. So, next up is Alice O’Donnell, Fine Gael’s bright new hope for Greystones and the surrounding area…
Take it away, Alice…
What inspired you to become involved in local politics? Was there a Road To District Council moment…?
There was no ‘lightbulb moment’. I think it has been a gradual realisation that I could do this and that I should do this. I have been involved in the community in different ways for years. I was chairperson of the Triple A Alliance autism support group for 8 years and that gave me a real feel for how policies affect people’s lives. Through Triple A, I became involved in the Public Participation Network. It represents the community and voluntary groups in the county.
I have been a voluntary representative for our area on the Children’s and Young People’s Services Committee and on the Joint Policing Committee. It feels like the next logical step for me is to try to become an elected representative.
Of your work so far, are there particular achievements that you are particularly proud of?
I am proud of my work with Triple A Alliance and even prouder of the team who are still leading the group, especially our chairperson and vice-chairperson Aisling and Rebecca. Triple A is the first point of contact for lots of parents whose child has just been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. Parents are often lost and very worried about what the future might hold. That is exactly how we felt when our son was diagnosed. I wanted to talk to someone else who had walked the walk, I needed to know that I wasn’t alone. I found that support through Triple A and I am very happy to have been able to offer that support to other parents.
In my early years here in Greystones I was part of a small group who organised a petition to keep the walkway between Heathervue and Hillside Road open. It was under threat of being closed due to anti-social behaviour. We managed to get the council to invest in CCTV, better lighting and paving to reduce the risk of people hanging around in the area. I was back there recently to canvass and was delighted to see so many people using it. It’s a great example of what people can achieve when they work with the council.
Looking forward, what are the main goals that you would like to achieve over the coming years?
I love living in Greystones and I want to work to keep this area a really good place to live and raise a family.
We have had a lot of development locally, I would like to make sure that developer levies are reinvested here where they are needed. I hope that we can have better long term planning with a focus on building sustainable communities with good transport links. We need good forward planning to make sure we have the school places and infrastructure to meet our needs.
Regarding public transport-I want to see a loop bus route around Greystones, more express buses, more short term parking in the South Beach car park and more long term parking too. I would also work to ensure better access to facilities and more participation from people with disabilities.
The IDA site needs to be developed, we have very little large scale employment here and this means most locals commute long distances to work. We need a pro-active plan to attract companies to set up here, to invest in our local economy and to employ locals.
We have a really interested and engaged community when it comes to the environment. I would like to harness that energy, make sure that Wicklow has a plan to address climate change with short-term measureable targets. I think we need to establish a forum to consult all the relevant people and to take advantage of the expertise that we have both in the council and in the community.
I like the idea of participatory budgeting and I think it’s something we should examine. It would mean giving people a say in which projects are funded at local level. It would raise interest in the council and encourage people to get involved.
To turn a fine Mayor Quimby quote into a question, ask not what you can do for your county, but what you can do for Greystones…?
I think my best quality is that I work well with others. I am told that I am honest, trustworthy and willing to listen to different points of view. I am genuinely interested in getting good things done at local level as against getting my face in the paper. I focus on trying to find solutions instead of complaining about problems.
I would like to see continued support for activities that bring communities together. I think we are all happiest when working together to do good things. Our lives are busier than ever but we still need each other. Connection, compassion and community are really important to me.
If being a politician doesn’t work out, have you got a Career B in mind? Dancer? Magician? Traffic warden…?
If this doesn’t work out, I’ll probably find something else to keep me busy. I know that I’ll always stay connected and involved in community because that is hugely satisfying to me.
You can find out more about Alice O’Donnell on the Fine Gael website here, on Facebook here, on Twitter here. You can also get in touch directly on firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be a chance to meet all the local candidates at Greystones Tennis Club on Tuesday May 7th, at 7pm.