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Elections 2019: Liam O’Connor – Fine Gael

Writes Ciaran Dineen

This May, Liam O’Connor will be battling it out against other candidates in the Carrigaline LEA, seeking your vote under the Fine Gael banner. Liam is a well-known and liked figure in Carrigaline, where he moved to eight years ago. Prior to his move to the Carrigaline, Liam lived in the Douglas/Rochestown area. He is originally from Newcastle West in Limerick and has a degree in Food Science from the University of Limerick. Over the years Liam has worked in different parts of the country, but has now been with Janssen and the Johnson and Johnson family for 12 years in Ringaskiddy.

The Fine Gael candidate is a keen environmentalist and plays a leading role in the upkeep of Carrigaline as Chairperson of the local Tidy Towns Committee, along with being a member of the Carrigaline and District Lions Club and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee. He believes that if elected, he can achieve positive results for the local area, using the experience he has to add a new voice to Cork County Council.

Journey to Politics:

In his youth Liam did have an interest in politics, with his father having affiliations with Fine Gael in terms of canvassing for candidates. During his time in University of Limerick, Liam joined the college’s Young Fine Gael society. Growing up, Liam had a good sense of community and has often helped out in local projects.

When he came to Carrigaline eight years ago Liam immediately got involved with the Tidy Towns and has also been a Director with the Carrigaline Community Association. In 2014 he ran for Local Elections in Carrigaline as a Labour candidate, having previously canvassed for a friend who ran for the party, but failed to be elected on that occasion.

When the local Labour membership faded away post-2014 elections Liam stepped aside and in 2016 he joined the Cork South-Central Fine Gael group. Following the decision of Cllr John Collins to leave politics, Liam was chosen to be his successor, and now will run for Fine Gael in May alongside stablemates, Aidan Lombard and Michael Paul Murtagh.

On Creating a Strong Community Network in Carrigaline:

Despite not having any connection to Carrigaline prior to his move here, Liam felt compelled to get involved actively in the community. He feels that it is vital to get as much engagement from the public as possible and suggests that the community needs a new forum to interact with its residents.

“I’m on the committee for the Carrigaline Community Assocation and I think Carrigaline needs a total revamp of a Community Assocation because the way it is at the moment is not engaging enough”, Liam tells The Carrigdhoun. “We need a proper functioning group, whether it’s called a Town Council or a new Community Assocation. Going around canvassing over the past month, lots of people have said that they are not aware of a Community Association and they are asking why there isn’t one set up. At our last public meeting there were about three members of the public there and that says it all really.”

Liam is of the opinion that we need to establish a new group, which encompasses more local groups, including sporting organisations and that a move away from the Community Association is important if this is to be successful. Although some clubs are members of the wider Public Participation Network for Cork County Council, this has failed to effectively involve ordinary members of the public who want their voices to be heard.

“I would definitely love to establish a new powerful group that can go to County Hall and have the ability to have a positive impact for Carrigaline and I would make sure that some of that gets set up over the next year or so.”

On Using Cork County Council’s Available Resources:

During his time as Chairperson of the Tidy Towns committee, Liam is more aware than most of the grants that are accessible to community groups. However, he explains that many organisations and even businesses are not alert to such grants and as a result miss out on them.

“The resources from Cork County Council are just not being utilised by community groups and one of my priorities is to make them aware that these grants actually exist. For example, the street-painting scheme, businesses on the main street can get 100% of their costs back if they paint the shop themselves and they can get 60% back if they pay a contractor to do the work for them. If they want to get a new sign, they can get 60% of it back. We need to let people know what is available to them and I would really make an effort to do just that.”

On Traffic in the Carrigaline LEA:

Liam believes that one of the most common issues that are affecting people on a daily basis is that of traffic. As he travels to Ringaskiddy on a regular basis for work, the Fine Gael candidate encounters traffic frequently on his journeys and he offers some solutions to perhaps alleviate the pressure. “If we had a cycle line and a footpath from Carrigaline to Ringaskiddy I think it would take a huge volume of cars off the road, but at the way it is at the moment, especially on the back road, it’s treacherous”.

Liam does not however believe that the proposed Park and Ride system would do anything to help the situation and instead would rather focus on creating a one-way system in Carrigaline, specifically on the Kilmoney side of the town, upon the development of the Western Relief Road.

In the lead up to elections which are just three weeks away, you can contact Liam via a number of platforms. Mobile: 087 781 7857, Email: Twitter: @liam0c2014 and Facebook: liamoconnorcarrigaline.

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