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Dwyer enters race for council seat eyeing opportunity in New Ross


John Dwyer addressing a crowd in New Ross

John Dwyer addressing a crowd in New Ross

John Dwyer addressing a crowd in New Ross

Former Eirigi and Sinn Fein county councillor John Dwyer has thrown his name in the hat in the upcoming local elections.

The 2019 Irish local elections will be held on Friday, May 24, on the same day as the 2019 European Parliament election and Dwyer is aiming to reclaim his place in the County Hall chamber.

Dwyer has been in politics since 1999 and has been involved in union activities, prior to being approached by Sinn Fein.

'I became involved with the party and then found out local politicians can actually help people. I hated attending meetings and the aggression that was associated with meetings. I enjoyed ringing council officials who could resolve issues for people. Most (officials) were absolute gentlemen once they saw there was a genuine need. I will probably find the red tape as frustrating as before if I'm elected. Councillors across the country have allowed local government to be emasculated. That occurred because local representatives failed to defend their communities,' he said.

Running as an Independent again, Dwyer (55) said he sees an opportunity to take a seat in the new look New Ross municipal district, which will have six councillors by the time the voting is concluded, as opposed to eight before.

Dwyer was eliminated on the fifth count with 1,362 votes in the 2016 General Election, having previously lost his county council seat in 2014.

From Ryleen, just outside New Ross, Dwyer amassed considerable experience representing constituents across the county as a town and county councillor over three decades, and his phone continued to ring with requests for his assistance even though he was no longer a councillor.

He opened Adventure Canoe Hire in 2014 but has been longing to get back into politics for some time.

Dwyer believes the abolition of town councils has been to the detriment to towns like New Ross and was the worst decision taken by any government.

He is optimistic about the role the new bypass will have on New Ross, but is concerned about the lack of jobs being created in the town and across the district.

'The bypass presents potential huge problems, but it also presents opportunities for New Ross. The business skills exist in the town along with the willingness to invest. People in business need local government to roll in behind them; not to be adversarial or to be constantly looking for money from them for this and that. We need to see the re-establishment of the old town councils because that was the basic unit of democracy in Ireland if a trader had an issue with a local government decision so you had a response quickly from the director of services.'

He said retail cannot thrive in New Ross unless there is a stronger employment base.

'It was always government policy to make Waterford a hub area. The challenge is to retain money made in New Ross in the town. Even before the recession people went for days away shopping in Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny and that is continuing to happen. Like Enniscorthy and Gorey, New Ross has been negatively affected by decisions made by officials which were ultimately accepted by elected members, but these decisions were often not in the best interests of the small retail business-owner in the town.'

Dwyer said initiatives like more free parking in New Ross in the run up to Christmas could help local businesses.

He remains adamant that the town's Kennedy connection has been 'done to death'.

'I believe we're highlighting the Kennedy link almost to our detriment as could be seen with the controversy over the naming of the new bridge. Of course we should celebrate our connection with the Kennedy name but when you have 800 plus years of history involving the Vikings and the Normans why not focus on that rather than 50 years ago.'

Dwyer said he is excited about running in the local elections, adding that he looks forward to representing working class people in the area, if elected.

'A lot of what I said prior to the recession about people in the construction industry needing training has come to pass.'

New Ross Standard