Prospective new entrants to politics from the Shannon Electoral Area will be adversely affected by the abolition of Shannon Town Council, according to the new Shannon Mayor, Councillor Greg Duff.
Describing the abolition of town councils as a “retrograde step”, Councillor Duff has expressed grave concern that the next local election candidates including young people and those from ethnic minorities will be denied an opportunity to cut their political teeth at town council level first before considering a step up to the county council.
He believes the requirement for even a party candidate to between €7,000 or €8,000 to properly promote themselves at the local elections will also hinder new entrants.
“Minister Hogan had an opportunity to take powers from city and county managers and give them to councillors. Instead he failed to do this and abolished town councils,” he said.
He admitted some people in the Labour Party advocated the party should remain in government because things could be worse if they left the Coalition.
However, Councillor Duff wondered could things get any worse for working class people and those hit by cutbacks.
He said he was disappointed with a lot of Government decisions, which were supported by the Labour Party.
“I am a trade unionist. I get my votes from working class people. I am at the frontline in relation to cutbacks.
“People referred to me by social workers or by the HSE are victims of savage cuts. Then we hear of what went on in the banks in these tapes. The introduction of property tax and water charges will hit the same working class people,” he said.
First elected to the town council in 2004, he was elected Shannon Mayor the same year when Shannon Development handed over the town to the county council.
As chairman of the local heritage group, Duchas na Sionna, he believes the old Hastings Farmhouse, which accommodated General Lucas during the War of Independence and the old archive of airport photographs in Shannon Development could be major tourist attractions if they are properly promoted.
Having spoken to some county council staff, they confirmed their willingness to preserve Shannon Development’s valuable historical record of developments at the airport. He proposed these photographs could be displayed in the library of the proposed new arts centre.
Another local attraction is the Shannon Aviation Museum, which he feels hasn’t fully realised its tourism potential.
He said Shannon was a very historical place as the Vikings had arrived in the area before they came to Limerick.
A former chairman of the Clare Council of Trade Unions, he served on the national executive of two trade unions – the Irish Print Union and a part-time branch secretary on the Shannon Industrial Estate.
He now works as an advocate for people with disabilities in Galway and also has responsibility for some work in Clare. He previously worked for the Clare Independent Advocacy Service and became an advocate for the National Advocacy Service.
A former chairman of the Clare Citizens’ Information Centre, he was a mediator with the local employment service in North Clare and some time in Kilrush as an information officer.
Living in Shannon since 1970, the 65 year-old father of two lost one son through Cystic Fibrosis and was chairman of the Clare Cystic Fibrosis Association for about 20 years. Married to Breda, they have a second son, Karl.