Writes Ciaran Dineen
Seámus McGrath: “I think that the Council’s focus in areas like tourism and economic development is important, but we can’t take our eye off the ball when it comes to doing what’s core to our values.”
In one weeks’ time Councillor Seámus McGrath will be asking for your vote as he seeks re-election in the Carrigaline LEA. The Fianna Fáil Councillor has been living in Carrigaline for over ten years, during which time he has been elected to Cork County Council on two occasions.
Seámus, brother of Michael McGrath TD, is originally from Passage West, where he also went to school. He grew up in quite a rural area of the town and spent many of his early years helping out on farms as a teenager. After leaving St. Peter’s Secondary School, Seámus went on to study Commerce in University College Cork and after receiving his degree he went on to work in retail and with a wholesale company.
Prior to his introduction to mainstream politics, the Fianna Fáil Councillor took a change of career direction as he began to train as a Garda in Templemore College. In 2007, following the election of his brother Michael to the Dáil, Seámus left Garda training and returned to Carrigaline where he was co-opted onto the County Council to fill the void that Michael had left.
Journey To Politics:
Growing up, Seámus did not come from a strong political family and it wasn’t until his time in University College Cork that he began to become interested in the political process. 20 years ago Seámus was very involved in his brother’s campaign during the 1999 Passage and Monkstown Town Council Elections, a position that Michael held for eight years, following his re-election in 2004. Michael was also elected to Cork County Council in 2004 and due to the abolishment of the dual mandate in 2002, he was forced to give up his seat in 2007 following his election to the Dáil.
As a result Seámus was more than happy to fill the space left by his brother both on Cork County Council and Passage Town Council. In every election that Seámus has since contested he has topped the poll, including in the 2014 Local Elections where he received nearly double the amount of first preference votes than the nearest candidate to him.
On The Western Relief Road And Local Bus Services:
Over the course of the last five years in particular, Councillor McGrath has been one of the key leaders in the Council for the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District. In 2016 Seámus was chosen to act as Cork County Mayor, a major honour for the Fianna Fáil candidate. One of the key moments during his year as Mayor was to sign the design contract for the Carrigaline Western Relief Road.
“Back in 2017 I was able to sign the contract for the design phase of the relief road,” Councillor McGrath tells The Carrigdhoun. “I had to push the Executive at the time to do that because they didn’t see the funding there to build it. However, I was firm in saying that we had to get that project shovel-ready and in a position where funding was available and that we were ready to go. I pushed that very much when I was in the position as Mayor and thankfully we got the contracts signed in 2017.”
Seámus was also instrumental in getting significant improvements for the local bus service in Carrigaline and Crosshaven, while also keeping the pressure on the National Transport Authority to improve the 223 bus route, and advocating for new services to be established which would create links throughout the Harbour Area, as well as Ballygarvan.
“We did manage to improve the bus service in Crosshaven and Carrigaline and it is much better thankfully. However, we certainly need further improvements in other areas, I’m very conscious of the likes of the 223 service, which is not up to standard. We need the connection between Passage, Monkstown, Ringaskiddy and Carrigaline when you look at things that need to be accessible to people like the Primary Care Centre and the Social Welfare Office, key facilities that are in Carrigaline. We’re promised that that is coming but we need a clear timeline and that is something that I will be continuing on with after the election if elected. It’s also very important that we don’t neglect the rural areas and we need to have further connections to the likes of Ballygavan, which hopefully will be served by the proposed route to Cork Airport.”
On The Role Of The Council And Being Ambitious:
Councillor McGrath believes that the Council need to become pro-active in its approach in governing the County of Cork. He believes that it is the right time for progressive developments in the area such as establishing a Park and Ride system in Carrigaline, which could serve Ringaskiddy, Little Island and Mahon Point. “We need to be looking at all these options and progressing them. We have to be ambitious from my point of view because we have seen plenty of examples where we haven’t been ambitious over previous decades and we are only seeing the consequences of it now. I want to see long-term plans, sustainable development and sustainable travel as everyone can see is the way forward.”
Seámus is very keen to see the role of the Council get “back to basics”, in terms of what is done on a day-to-day basis, as Councillor McGrath believes that there has been a disconnect between County Hall and the area offices. “I think that the Council’s focus in areas like tourism and economic development is important, but we can’t take our eye off the ball when it comes to doing what’s core to our values. Roads, maintenance of public space, tackling dereliction and providing people with a good living environment. I am very much so pushing that back to basics approach in Council activities. As Mayor I tried to convey that as much as possible and as group leader in the Fianna Fáil party. We fought hard in the budget just gone to get extra funding for outdoor offices but that is just one step in a long journey that needs to happen.”
In the lead up to the elections Seámus can be contacted by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: 086 3916328 and Facebook: Seámus McGrath.
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