Smith shines for Labour on 'a tough day for the party'
AT 1 a.m. last Tuesday morning, some 64 hours after counting had begun in Swords, the last seat was claimed by Labour's Duncan Smith, whose success was tempered by the loss of two well-established party councillors in the ward, Tom Kelleher and Gerry McGuire.
Reacting to the win, newly-elected Smith, said: 'On a personal level it feels fantastic – we put an awful lot of work in starting a year ago and knocked on an awful lot of doors.
'But it is tempered by the broader feeling that it was tough day for our party and we've lost two good councillors in Swords.
'Tom Kelleher was on the council for nearly 25 years representing Swords and did a lot, particularly in the area of planning. He was a voice for improved and transparent planning and if you look at where the council was in that area in 1991 when he was elected and where it is now, he did a wonderful job. He was a councillor of great integrity and he made a great impact.
'Gerry McGuire, on a personal note, was the first Labour man I ever canvassed for. He was a very hard-working councillor, particularly for the people of the Donabate peninsula and I was very sad to see him and Tom go.'
The exit of long-established faces and the election of younger voices like Smith and Brian McDonagh in Howth/Malahide, appears to be mirror what happened to the party on a national level, but Cllr. Smith would not be drawn on the leadership election going on in the party, preferring to concerntate on local matters.
Asked about the agenda he will pursue on the new council, he said: 'I was very clear on the doorstep in terms of promises and pledges. I'm of a generation of people don't want to see politics done the old way – we want to see a new politics and all I have promised is to work hard and to be accessible to the people who elected me.
'The one pledge I did make was on housing. I said I would not vote for a council budget that would reduce the budget for homelessness and I intend to stick by that. We are facing a housing crisis in Fingal and across the country,' Cllr. Smith said.
The Labour councillor has written on the subject and informed some of the party's thinking on the issue at a national level and wants to pursue solutions to the Fingal housing crisis over the next five years.
Asked if Labour had anyone in mind to support for the position of Mayor of Fingal, Cllr. Smith said no decision had been made yet and the Labour members of the council were to meet up and discuss their strategy on that and other issues in the forthcoming council.
Cllr. Smith thanked a 'wonderful team' that supported his candidacy for the council.
'My team had a great spirit and campaigned positively, looking forward and not back and I think people on the doorsteps reacted to that.
'I want to thank everyone who gave me and my team courtesy on the doorsteps whether they gave me their vote or not. The people of Swords were very courteous to us. I would also like to thank, of course, everyone who saw fit to cast their vote for me.'