JUST 20 years of age, Mike Taylor is likely to be the youngest candidate in Clare for the 2019 Local Elections.
The Kilkee man may also be the first openly gay man to run for election in Clare.
In his final year studying for a BA in Law and Sociology and Politics at NUI Galway, Mr Taylor said he got involved in Fine Gael while still a child.
“It goes back to 2011; I was about 12. My mam was involved with some sort of footpath issue or something like that. She called Pat Breen and he got the issue sorted. The election came around and mam was asked to go and canvass. She said ‘I won’t canvass but I know somebody who will’. I dropped some leaflets that day and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Very involved in the campaign for yes votes in the abortion and same sex marriage referendums, he said that he never experienced any real homophobia in Clare. “I think something I always made the mistake of doing, and I suppose it was the same with the Eighth Amendment, I was wary when I didn’t have to be. “It’s something that bugs me about the representation for the last couple of years. We didn’t give people the credit they deserved, that they had moved with the times. I’ve always had incredible support in West Clare for whatever I’ve done and it’s never been an issue. There were never any problems.”
While politicians in Clare have almost all been heterosexual, he feels the marriage equality referendum has helped make it easier for others to get involved. “There was never such a strong, powerful affirmation like that,” he said.
Looking to what he wants to achieve in politics, he said, “I want to strengthen communities across West Clare. I want to try and renew vibrancy and growth in whatever way I can. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I like the Michael Collins thing of ‘Give us our Ireland to live in, to grow in, to love’. I want a West Clare where young people can live, grow and love.”
When someone enters local politics at a very young age, it is generally safe to assume that they have ambitions at a national level. Mr Taylor admits that he may look at going further in the future but local level will be his focus for the coming years at least.
Due to finish his degree within a few months, he says his future is in his local area. “I love West Clare; all my family are there. I have little nieces and nephews. I’m watching them grow up, my sisters and brothers grow up and there is nothing there for them. When my nieces and nephews grow up, I want something to be there for them, something for them to do, something that keeps them out of harm’s way, gives them some sort of purpose,” he concluded.