Wednesday 21 February 2018

Sport plays huge part for healthy mind and body

John Manning

VOLUNTEERISM and the importance of sport for a healthy mind and body allied with the dominating presence of St Ita's Hospital in the community formed the destiny of a new councillor from the Donabate and Portrane peninsula who is looking forward to representing this unique area of Fingal.

When you find out that Cllr Adrian Henchy (FF) is a mental health nurse by day, it is not a surprise he hails from the peninsula where the influence of St Ita's Hospital dominated the community for so long and encouraged many locals into mental health work.

'My grandparents were nurses in Portrane and so were my parents. I went off to college to do accountancy but would have been swayed by my mum to change direction,' Cllr Henchy told the Fingal Independent.

That change of direction not only defined his career but has also influenced the social issues he intends to pursue on the council, and chief among those is the issue of positive mental health.

Cllr Henchy said: 'The way I see mental health is that it needs to go in the direction of physical health. A lot of us are very conscious of our physical health and rightly so and mental health has to go that direction too.'

During the campaign trail, the Donabate councillor put the issue centre stage with a special event out in Rolestown that highlighted the positive effect sport can have on mental health.

Speakers like Brent Pope and Dubs star, Paul Flynn opened up about their attitudes to mental health at the event and Fingal Ravens showcased the strides its making as a club in the area of positive mental health.

The event struck a chord with a lot of people. Cllr Henchy said: 'I was contacted by a lot of parents who had brought their teenage sons and daughters to that event and after it, they found their sons in particular, opened up to them in a way they never had before.'

Adrian's father influenced his love of sport and showed how a good sporting coach can influence how you conduct yourself on and off the field of play.

He believes that volunteers and community activists are the 'glue' that hold a society together and he surrounded himself with people like that in his campaign, saying that a country is 'more than an economy – it's a society'.

So what were his impressions of his first election campaign and how was he received on the doorsteps? He said: 'The vast majority of people were the vast very positive and very engaging on the doors.

'I think probably, I was well received because I was involved in the community and some of the issues I was campaigning on like sporting facilities and mental health struck a chord with people and they were able to engage with me.

'I certainly felt at the vast majority of doors, I certainly wasn't carrying any baggage like some of the parties.

'That said, I was under no illusion that I was under the banner of FF and a lot of people still have a way to go to forgive Fianna Fáil for their past but I suppose, the fact I wasn't previously elected stood to me and there was a view among the electorate they wanted a bit of new energy and new faces in there.'

But the councillor from the peninsula says he is not a career politician and has no major political ambitions.

He said: 'It's not a career – it's a privilege. You get a mandate from the people and you have to do your best to carry out that mandate as best you can over five years or ten years.

'I'm realistic enough to know I'm not going to institute huge changes overnight but if I can look back every year and see we have made incremental progress on certain issues year by year, I'll be happy.

'I think people are insightful enough to know the country is not awash with cash at the moment and we can't do everything but we can certainly make our communities safer places to live in so people don't feel intimidated when they go out to the shops or out for a walk.

'Those small things that people are asking for, I think we can deliver on.'

Talking about his election, he said: 'I was very honoured, very privileged and very proud and I'm absolutely very grateful to the people of the Swords ward that have given me the opportunity to serve them.'

Commenting on what he has found at the council since joining it a few short weeks ago, Cllr Henchy said: 'I think the new chief executive has brought a new level of dynamism to the council - when a new manger comes into a team it shakes things up a bit, if I can use a sporting analogy.

'He has brought a lot of enegy to the position and that is very palpable at the moment. I've met with a lot of the directors and I've been very impressed with their commitment to Fingal and what struck me is that the council, despite what a lot of people might think, is a very dynamic environment to come into.

'They (the council executive) want to do their best for the people of Fingal as well.'

He concluded: 'There is a lot of good work going on behind the scenes at the council and maybe we need to communicate that better to the man on the street.'

Fingal Independent

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