Writes Ciaran Dineen
Seeking re-election to Cork County Council this May is Independent Councillor, Marcia D’Alton. Marcia is a resident of Passage West, formally Monkstown and grew up in Douglas. She is a mother to five children and is married to her husband, Rob. Before her introduction to politics, the Independent Councillor studied in University College Cork, where she completed a degree in Civil Engineering and then went on to major in Environmental Engineering.
Having worked in a consultancy capacity for a period, in her early 30’s Marcia set up her own business. Finding the right balance between motherhood and self-employment proved to be difficult for Marcia, like many other women, and following the birth of her second child 16 years ago, she decided to close her business. However, every cloud has a silver lining and since then Marcia has become incredibly active in her community of Passage, while also being a predominant figure throughout Douglas and the Carrigaline LEA.
Journey to Politics:
While Marcia had never been political up until she took a step back from her work, she has since become a much-loved and respected Councillor in the area and in two weeks she seeks re-election, hoping to continue on the work that she has so far achieved. Her first interaction with political engagement came at the beginning of the Indaver debacle, involving the proposal for a waste management facility and incinerator in Ringaskiddy.
With a background in engineering Marcia got involved in the process and has never looked back since. She was subsequently encouraged by local residents to put herself forward for the Passage Town Council elections back in 2004. She was successfully elected and this was again the case in 2009, when Marcia was re-elected. Following the decision to abolish Town Councils, the Independent candidate’s love for representing her constituents and passion for the harbour area saw her contest the Local Elections in 2014. Marcia was successfully elected in the then 10-seat constituency and will run in the new Carrigaline LEA, with her desire to represent local people as emboldened as ever.
On ‘Passage West Creates’ and Support from the Community:
While she may be modest in admitting such, Councillor D’Alton has led the way since her election five years ago in helping to establish a better community in Passage West and the greater harbour area. She continued to be involved in the anti-incinerator campaign and has worked closely with local activist group CHASE over the years. Marcia became involved in both Douglas and Passage West Tidy Towns, with the latter in particular proving to be a wonderful new asset to the area.
The independent candidate was also among the founding members of the ‘Passage West Creates’ brand, for which she was able to secure a grant and establish an arts and crafts shop, supplied with goods from local crafters. “It’s just a fantastic organisation”, Marcia tells The Carrigdhoun. “The Passage West Market is also another wonderful initiative that has recently taken off and it has been amazing, breathing new life into the town. All of these things that I might have had a key or ongoing role in, could absolutely not have been done without partnerships in the local community. I might have been a vehicle for allowing for some of it to happen, but by no means could I have done any of it without the people around me in Passage and that is still the case. It’s their talent and their hard work which is driving everything forward and without them it would not be possible. That is why I want to run again because it is such a buzz to be involved with people like that and I am feeding off it.”
On the Potential for the Harbour Area from Different Perspectives:
Councillor D’Alton knows more than most that she resides in an area which has massive potential to be a tourist hub if developed properly, however, she is tired of rhetoric and wants to acknowledge all viewpoints and perspectives.
“I’m very conscious because a lot of candidates will say, ‘you need to build on its tourism potential’, but we’ve been saying that forever. But there are others who will say let’s focus on the industrial benefit or the commercial benefit. The reality is that the harbour is a balance of assets and it is certainly one of our greatest natural assets, but a balanced delivery of everything is what is critical.”
Marcia believes that Municipal Districts on all sides of the water need to be involved as working together is the key to success. “We need to look at planning in a holistic way where all of its multi-faceted interests are represented. I can’t ask queries about Marino Point in County Hall because it’s in the Cobh District, so it’s time that we need to stop looking at the water as something that divides us. It has taken me a full five years for the Council to agree with me that we need to take a holistic approach and it would be wonderful if I could be there for the next five years to manage it, because if I go I feel that no one will be there.”
On The Local Bus Service:
During her time as a Councillor Marcia has also fought hard for an improvement to the 223 bus service which caters for people living in Ringaskiddy, Shanbally, Raffeen, Monkstown and Passage. She has long believed that a reliable and regular bus service in the area is a necessity and that not only would it benefit those that currently use it, but also encourage commuters to use public transport as an alternative, reducing the number of cars on the road, alleviating traffic and congestion in the process.
While Marcia and other Councillors have no hard power in seeking positive change on this, she will continue to fight on the issue until such change is delivered adequately. It is expected that the persistence of her and other colleagues will have been vindicated in the near future, with proposals suggesting that the quality of service will be increased, while a bus linking Passage with Carrigaline will also be established.
In the lead up to the elections constituents can contact Marcia via mobile: 085 7333852, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Facebook: @cllrmarciadalton.
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