John Hegarty stepping down after 10 years as a councillor in Gorey
After ten years serving as a public representative for the Gorey district, Kilanerin native Cllr John Hegarty has decided to step down in June after he has completed his current role of district chairman.
It is unclear whether the Fine Gael councillor, who is vice principal of Wexford CBS and currently living in Wexford will run in the Wexford district in the upcoming local elections in May.
He said the reason behind his decision to step down is because his move to Wexford for family and work reasons is a 'perceived barrier' to him running for re-election in Gorey.
Cllr Hegarty said living in Wexford town and serving in Gorey has 'never been as issue' for him, but 'unfortunately there are others within the party (Fine Gael) who do not share this view'.
Cllr Hegarty said that he knows that he should cite family, work commitments and other interests as the reason behind his decision. While he acknowledged that his circumstances have changed and he has four kids that he didn't have when he began the role as councillor, he said his family, work or other commitments have never held him back from performing the role, nor does he see it as being an issue into the future.
'It has become apparent in recent months that my move from Gorey to Wexford is a perceived barrier to me running for re-election in Gorey. This is a huge disappointment to me.
'I moved for family and work reasons but in reality I have worked in Wexford town all my life and it has never been a barrier for me in serving my home town, my district or my home GAA club.
'I find it ironic that TDs can live in Dublin but represent their constituents in Wexford, Kerry, Mayo or Donegal from Dublin yet my move to a house 15 minutes outside the Gorey district boundary has been cited as a barrier to my receiving support from key elements of the Fine Gael party in the upcoming campaign.'
He continued to say: 'This has never been an issue for me, I should add but unfortunately there are others within the party, who do not share this view.
'I am from Gorey and will continue to be from Gorey, and would hope to continue to be a part of the story of North Wexford into the future in whatever way I can.'
Cllr Hegarty said that it wasn't an easy decision to make but none the less he feels it is the correct for him.
'I came into the job with no political experience, family background or ties. I put myself forward because I believed people who cared about their community or county had a duty to put themselves forward. I wanted to try to progress my area, our town, district and county and I hope that to some degree I have made a contribution.'
Recalling his time spent as a councillor Cllr Hegarty said he has been honoured to serve as chairman of Wexford County Council; chaired the district committee in Gorey on three occasions; performed the role of chairman of the Council Economic Strategic Policy Group; the 2013 Gathering in County Wexford; the Healthy County Committee; the Gorey Market House Festival Committee; and the Gorey 400 Commemoration Committee.
During his time in the Gorey district, Cllr Hegarty has completed numerous projects. He said that he set up the Wexford Ambassador Programme, Wexford Day' Gorey's Civic Honours List and the North Wexford 2K Clean initiative.
'I was delighted to open the Hatch Lab, find a long sought after site for a hockey pitch and assisted with the expansion of community facilities and festivals all over the district,' said Cllr Hegarty. 'I worked with the communities to respond to severe weather events, both snow and storms and it was these dealings with the communities that gave me the most satisfaction.'
He added that to work with community organisations and individuals, to represent them, help them and recognise their efforts throughout his 10 years has been challenging, at times frustrating, but to be able to help some person in need is hugely rewarding.
Cllr Hegarty thanked all those who have been supportive to him during his time as a public representative.
'To those standing for Fine Gael and indeed other parties, I wish them all the best,' said Cllr Hegarty. 'For me it has been an honour to represent the people of Gorey and I intend to continue to do that to the very best of my ability, in my role as district chairman until the end of my term. After that, who knows?'
Fellow councillor Anthony Donohoe has been selected to contest the local elections for Fine Gael in the Gorey electoral area along with Gorey Chamber of Commerce CEO Diarmuid Devereux.
Speaking to this newspaper, Cllr Donohoe thanked Cllr Hegarty for all his work the past 10 years and said it was a pleasure to serve alongside. He wished Cllr Hegarty and his family all the best for the future.