At 19 years of age, Sean Naughton is the youngest candidate declared so far for the local elections in May, he feels his addition to the Council is a shakeup that is needed.
A past pupil of Castleconnell NS and St Munchins College, Sean has been selected as the Sinn Féin candidate in the Killaloe Municipal District in what will be his first time running for political office.
In 2016, he joined Sinn Féin after being involved in a number of commemorations throughout the year. “I got to know a few people then being involved, prior to that I was involved in Student Council since First Year in school and I’ve always had an interest in politics. Whenever I sat down and thought about what I wanted to do when I was older, it was always politics. Some people in the party saw me and saw my views and we went from there”.
Naughton points to the efforts of young people in repealing the Eighth Amendment and securing Marriage Equality as signs pointing in his favour of the work his generation can do. “A lot of people have said to me that the build up of councillors in East Clare at the moment is a lot of people who have had their seat for a long time, the way I think politics is gone on a national level with the Marriage Equality and Eighth Amendment referendum there’s a lot more young people getting out and trying to make a change, I’m hoping that transports itself and brings it out in the local elections that I can hopefully get in and get my voice heard”.
In announcing his candidacy, Sinn Féin released a statement where the O’Briensbridge resident criticised jobs being sacrificed in East Clare. When asked by The Clare Echo which examples in particular he was referring to, he said, “The factories that were closed in Killaloe not so long ago, you could pick out general jobs but the way I see it is there are no jobs necessarily but it’s not just jobs which are the problem there’s housing, people my age when they get to 24 or 25 they have to move out of home, there’s no real choice to stay where you are from you have to move to the big areas like Ennis, Limerick or Dublin just so you can have a liveable wage.
“I would push more for a public transport system so even if you do have to go away for a job, you can go away and hopefully get more grants and try push more people to open up their own businesses that will create more jobs especially in the likes of Killaloe and Scariff and try get more of the waterways involved so you can get more people in jobs through that which hopefully wouldn’t be seasonal and would be pushed out through the whole year”.
Sinn Féin last ran a candidate in the Killaloe Municipal District in 1991 when Tony Foley secured 2.7% of the vote and was eliminated on the first count. On how one could judge whether the party has strengthened its support in the area since, Sean said, “It was a long time ago and I think young people are really going to get out there and get things changed, in Clare we do need a change, we need a shakeup. A lot of councillors in East Clare have been there for a long time, we need to shake up the people so they can wake up and realise it’s time for a new voice and someone new to get out there”.
For the Presidential election last year, the hospitality worker was the East Clare coordinator for the campaign which saw Liadh Ní Riada come fourth out of six contenders. On his learnings from this endeavour, he commented, “In East Clare as a whole you have to pick your points, where you’re going to get out and what way. Looking back I would have liked to have done a lot more and I think going forward we’re going to try get out there talking to people a whole lot more as opposed to putting flyers through, it’s a big difference meeting someone on the street shaking hands and having a chat with them as opposed to seeing a piece of paper with their face on it”.
A loosehead prop with UL Bohemians, Sean is used to “the big physical lads clashing heads” on the field, he’s already began canvassing and is fully focused on the election campaign. “Get out get training and get canvassing is the way life is going at the moment”.