Conor D. McGuinness has confirmed that he will seek a nomination from Sinn Féín to run in next year’s local elections. He was recently appointed as an area representative for the recently formed Dungarvan LEA, which covers the town and stretches from Ballinacourty to Ardmore.
A New Voice
Speaking to the Dungarvan Leader McGuinness said he will be a new voice in local politics.
“I am honoured to have been named as an area representative for the recently formed Dungarvan Electoral Area. I am determined to be a new voice for West Waterford, and to bring a fresh perspective to local politics. Sinn Féin has a vision for local government that puts people at the centre, and that prioritises community involvement, responsive services and democratic accountability.
“I intend to seek a nomination from Sinn Féin to run in next year’s local elections alongside my colleagues Cllr. Siobhán Whelan. The intention is to return two republican councillors for Dungarvan in 2019.
“My political priorities are to tackle the lack of affordable housing at local level, to make Waterford a leader when it comes to environmental protection, and to address the twin issues of crime and anti-social behaviour in the area,” he said.
“My experience in rural development and diversification means that supporting sustainable economic development and job creation at local level will feature high in my list of priorities.
“I am a proud Irish speaker and as a local representative I am determined to deal with people in English or in Irish. Our language, and the heritage that goes with it, is hugely important to me, as it is to many people in West Waterford.”
McGuinness works as senior political advisor and constituency manager with Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada, where he engages with farmer and fish producers organisations, rural development companies, environmental campaigners and local and regional authority officials.
“A lot of my work involves making connections at local and European level, finding solutions to problems, and putting the right people in touch with one another,” he explains. “I bring a lot of experience to the table in terms of regional, national and European policy development I suppose.”
No stranger to issues of governance, McGuinness is a board member of Foras na Gaeilge, the all-Ireland body tasked with promoting the Irish language, and vice-chairperson of Dungarvan Credit Union Ltd.
“Accountability and transparency are key to good governance in my experience. People taking decisions need to ensure they have all the information available and need to be prepared to stand over the decisions they make,” he says.
“Sinn Féin offers an alternative set of priorities,” he says when questioned on his party affiliation.
“Despite progress over recent years we still face inequalities in our society and our country has not been able to reach its full potential. A hundred years ago men and women in this county and across the country went out to build a Republic based on the promise of 1916.
“A dysfunctional health service and a lack of affordable housing makes a mockery of the type of society imagined in the 1916 proclamation. The republican politics espoused by Sinn Féin sets out to build a republic where the needs of the people are looked after, where all are treated equally, and where the interests of the whole country, not just Dublin, are taken into account.
Vision for West Waterford
“I am determined that rural Ireland, our towns and our villages should offer the opportunity for safe, sustainable and prosperous communities to thrive. Communities depend on people living in them and addressing the shortage of affordable local housing for young families will be central to supporting sustainability of our villages and towns.
“I envisage a county where environmental protection is second to none, where efforts at addressing climate change on the local level are encouraged and rewarded, and where sustainable businesses are valued and supported.
“As an area representative I will work to address issues of crime and anti-social behaviour. No one should feel unsafe in their community or their home. We need a multi-agency response to anti-social behaviour that puts the community first. Proceeds of crime recovered locally should be ring-fenced for local crime-prevention programmes.”
McGuinness grew up in Dungarvan. He attended Scoil Garbhán and St. Augustine’s College in Abbeyside. The youngest of three sons, his mother Phyllis Davis is well known in Dungarvan as a former town gardener and proprietor of Eden Garden Centre. He lives in An Rinn with his partner Pia and their two dogs.