West Waterford Sinn Féin is putting its best foot forward for 2021 and will seek to build on the large increase in activity and membership in 2020. The West Waterford cumann held its AGM via Zoom on Thursday and elected a strong officer board that is set to ‘hit the ground running’ for the year ahead. The meeting was addressed by Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform and Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell.
Support for Sinn Féin stands at 29% according to recent opinion polls. This makes it the most popular party in the state, having eclipsed Fine Gael, and counting almost twice as much support as Fianna Fáil. In the North the party is in joint place with the DUP at 28% in terms of popularity.
Speaking after the AGM, incoming chairperson of West Waterford Sinn Féin, Seamus Kiersey, said:
“Sinn Féin in West Waterford has hit the ground running for 2021. This is the time for us to demonstrate the vision and the ambition that is needed to deliver a fresh start.
Active Year for Sinn Féin
“2020 has been an exceptionally active year for us, despite the pandemic that is causing chaos at home and abroad. Sinn Féin’s vision to give workers and families a break really resonated with the electorate and saw David Cullinane elected with votes to spare.
“It was an election called because the Fine Gael Minister for Health faced a motion of no-confidence because the health system was on the verge of collapse; with staff leaving in their droves, elderly people left to suffer for days on hospital trolleys and out of control waiting lists.
“We had an out of touch government that supported developers and landlords, while working families were unable to afford a home, rents spiralled and people who worked hard all of their lives were told they would have to line up at the dole queue at 65.
“It was the strong desire for change and a better future that saw so many people placing their trust in us as Sinn Féin received a historic vote and our support has continued to grow since.
Unfortunately the old boys club circled the wagons to keep us out of Government, but we are providing a much-needed and constructive opposition in the Dáil. We remain ready for Government, and eager to roll out our plans and policies on housing, healthcare, education and jobs.
“Our local Councillor Conor McGuinness has been working exceptionally hard, on housing, on environmental issues, on planning and on helping communities get through the Covid crisis. We’re grateful for his work and for his determination to do right by his constituents. His work rate and ability have shown up the weakness of local government representation in West Waterford.
“During the year we held a range of online events and, when restrictions allowed, a number of outdoor, socially-distanced initiatives. These included our online meeting on workers’ rights during Covid, commemorative events, 5km litter picks and clean-ups, online historical talks, and cumann meetings with guest speakers on a host of different topics.
“We also distributed hundreds of Easter Lilies safely by post, and where possible within the prevailing restrictions, we ensured the graves of West Waterford’s IRA volunteers were tidied and anniversaries were marked.
Strong Team for West Waterford
We have elected a very strong and dynamic team locally, who will work together to build the party and to outline our vision for change. Our incoming officer board contains both youth and experience, and a healthy geographic and gender balance. The officer board is comprised of:
Seamus Kiersey – Chair / Cathaoirleach
Brendan Mansfield – Runaí /Secretary
Phyllis Davis – Treasurer / Cisteoir
Nora Mhic Gearailt – Treasurer / Cisteoir
Sinéad Mansfield – Vice-chair / Leaschathaoirleach
Bláthanna Creedon – Vice-secretary / Leasrunaí
Pia Fresenborg – PRO / Oifigeach Cumarsáide
Conor McGuinness – Irish Language Officer / Oifigeach Gaeilge
John Creedon – Membership Officer / Oifigeach Ballraíochta
“I want to thank all who put themselves forward for positions. The level of interest reflects the increase in members over the past year, and the level of activity within our cumann. We put our best foot forward as we face into another challenging year for our country and our communities.
Making a Fresh Start
“2021 is the time to show the vision and the ambition needed to deliver a fresh start. The weaknesses exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic has made the desire for change even stronger.
“We need to continue to support people in the coming months so that businesses can re-open and people can get back to work – but we need to do much more than that.
“A fresh start means being able to afford the roof over your head, and we need the biggest affordable and social housing programme in the history of the State – not big pay days for wealthy developers and big landlords. We need to make homes affordable for workers again and out of control rents must be tackled head-on.
“We need to sort out our health services once and for all – and that starts with treating frontline workers properly and making sure they see their future here in Ireland and not the far side of the world.
“We need to ensure that when you have worked hard all of your life that you have the right to retire on a State pension at 65 if you want to.
“The two states that emerged from partition one-hundred years ago were, and remain, deeply flawed. The Mother and Baby Home scandal shows just how deeply the southern state and the political establishment failed its own people under successive Governments. More recent scandals, usually affecting and hurting women, show that despite huge social changes, the state’s approach to its people hasn’t changed very much from the 1950s.
“”We need to deepen the conversation about ending Partition and delivering Irish Unity. The Irish government needs to start planning, because the reality is that we cannot afford partition – working together on the island is the best way to secure our future, and deliver the change that we do badly need and deserve.”