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2019 Elections: Ben Dalton O’Sullivan – Independent

Writes Ciaran Dineen

Another new name on the ballot paper for this year’s 2019 Local Elections will be that of Ballygarvan man, Ben Dalton O’Sullivan. The 19-year old former Carrigaline Community School student is currently studying politics in University College Cork, under the BSc Government degree.

The teenager is born and bred in Ballygarvan, where he attended primary school. In recent years Ben has become particularly active in his community and in Carrigaline. As a member of homeless charity, Homeless Drive, Ben has witnessed at first-hand the extent of the homeless crisis in Cork City. He also has massive concerns about hospital waiting-lists and has himself organised a trip which saw those in need of cataract-eye surgery travel to Belfast for treatment.

Above all else, the UCC student claims that he wants Ballygarvan to have a strong, local presence in the County Council and believes that he is the man for the job.

Journey To Politics:

Ben first became interested in the political system in 2014 during the ‘Water Charges’ debacle. The strength within communities at this time appealed to Ben and he became interested in issues that effected his local area.

Coming from a family background which has no strong interest in politics, Ben has no party connections and therefore decided to run as an Independent candidate. The decision to run came not long after the trip to Belfast was organised by Ben, however he claims that the two were unrelated.

“It was always something that I had planned to do at some stage (run for election), but maybe not so soon. When I ran the bus, people were saying to me would I consider going for election and I suppose I just went for it then. If I was doing it (bus trip) solely for election then I would have organised it just for Carrigaline,” Ben explains.

On the 5th March the 19-year old announced that he would contest the upcoming elections, where he stated, “I believe that the new Carrigaline electoral area needs a new, fresh, strong & independent voice to ensure that each town and village in the Municipal District, and their residents, get their fair share of funding and support.”

On The Ballygarvan And Ballinhassig Ward:

With Ballygarvan and Ballinhassig occupying the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District from 2014 until these elections, Ben claims that this has had a significantly negative impact. A big part of the reason why Ben claims he is running is based purely on how he believes that Ballygarvan and Ballinhassig have been left in the cold over these last five years.

“I go knocking on doors and what people tell me is that they feel forgotten. Traffic calming, water quality and water outages are huge problems that are effecting residents and businesses. I’ve been getting a great response from the people of Ballygarvan, who are saying, ‘we need someone younger, someone local and someone who knows the issues that we face’. Waterfall and parts of Ballinhassig are coming back into the ward and I think It’s really important that they have someone from that side of the area to look after them as well”, Ben says.

Aidan Lombard has been the main councillor for the area since 2016, and while his new competitor believes that Cllr Lombard has done his best for the community, Ben feels that a new approach is warranted. “I think every councillor does their best and I don’t want to get into knocking councillors but I think Ballygarvan just want to know their representative and they want to see them in the village. They want someone who knows the issues and experiences they themselves encounter on a daily basis. They don’t see their councillors or TDs between the elections and so I think we just need someone to represent that general area.”

On The Poster Ban:

This year many communities in the Carrigaline LEA are set to advocate the banning of posters from their area. So far Passage West, Carrigaline and Crosshaven, through various associations, made candidates aware that they wanted all posters to be banned in their towns and villages. Some communities that haven’t come to a similar position may do so in the coming weeks.

On this Ben says, “quite clearly the people in these areas don’t want posters. It is of course going to be a great disadvantage to people like myself as a new Independent candidate and it will benefit the political parties. I think if we’re going to ban posters we also have to make it fair to Independent and new candidates so that they can get their messages across.”

When asked would he put posters up in areas where there was no ban Ben told The Carrighoun, “I have to”, Ben explains. “I don’t think I can go totally poster-free as much as I would like to. I don’t have any party backing behind me, it’s just myself and a few supporters and I have to get my message across too”, he continues.

On Social Housing:

The supply and cost of housing in the Carrigaline LEA is currently at a crisis point, with reports indicating that the average house price to rent in the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal district is averaging at €1,300 per month. On this Ben says, “I see homelessness every week as a member of Homeless Drive and I think that social housing is a major issue. I am a firm believer that we should bring all vacant housing units (ghost estates) back into use.”

The population of Carrigaline in particular is continuing to increase and Ben believes that more social and affordable housing is an urgent requirement. However, despite the fact that space is at a premium, the 19-year old argues that building houses over apartments is a priority, but that the sites where we build need to be chosen correctly.

With college exams fast approaching, Ben remains on the campaign trail with elections just over six weeks away.

Between now and then you can contact Ben on Number: 089 4690352 and Twitter: @BenDaltonOSull1

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