Sunday 18 August 2019

Guerin eyes seat in the stormy waters of Dublin Bay North

Hopeful: Jimmy Guerin
Hopeful: Jimmy Guerin
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

It's a question as old as politics itself - why would anyone want to run for office?

Jimmy Guerin is someone who has been close to the heart of politics for most of his life, without running for office.

When he did he had mixed success, failing to win a seat in the 2011 election as an Independent in Dublin North but successful in the local elections in Fingal.

Now he has announced that he intends to contest the next general election in Dublin Bay North, probably one of the most competitive constituencies in the country.

As someone with a Fianna Fail pedigree, he will be up against his old ally Sean Haughey, two government ministers, three sitting TDs, a senator and a Grand National-style field of other candidates that vary from political party appointees, Independent TDs and senators, mavericks and no-hopers.

But like Guerin they're all in it for the hard slog and an unshakeable belief that they can pull off a coup in one of the most difficult constituencies in the country.

He is a member of the North Dublin Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force, which recently received a visit from the Minister of State for the national drugs strategy Aodhan O Riordain, where he was asked, by Guerin, if he could provide €100,000 so that two new case workers could be employed to help the existing team of three deal with the backlog of cases.

Since it opened its doors, "referrals have been flooding in" to this frontline service for alcohol and drugs dependent people.

The minister promised to see what he could do, and, according to Guerin, "he's a good guy", but within weeks of his visit the minister got a letter from a co-ordinator in the task force telling him that since his visit "the impact of the lack of resources has had tragic consequences".

It added: "I regret to inform you that two local people who were on our waiting list to see a caseworker have taken their own lives. This is devastating news for these local families and incredibly upsetting for the service. The upset is compounded by the knowledge that such a small investment would have meant these people could have been seen sooner and potentially there may have been a different outcome."

"Just a small amount of money was all that was needed. It's a tragic waste," Guerin adds.

Guerin, a brother of the murdered Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin, believes he can make a difference. "The problem in the constituency is that we have five people running at the next election with 100 years' experience in the Dail between them - and yet they have done very little for ordinary people," he says.

He is hopeful that he can get elected.

Sunday Independent

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