*Eugene Long (centre) with Joe Carey and John McInerney
Upon retiring from An Garda Síochána in February after 34 years of service, Eugene Long did not envisage an entry into local politics.
However requests from Fine Gael eventually bore fruition with the Limerick native throwing his name into the ring in the Shannon Municipal District for the local election on May 24th. His arrival comes as the party attempts to launch an assault on one of Fianna Fáil’s strongest vote getters in the county, Cllr Cathal Crowe who also happens to live in the same estate as Long.
These discussions with Fine Gael members piqued Eugene’s interests as he saw a similarity with the work of a county councillor and that of a local Garda. “The work that was described to me the more I thought about it the more it appealed to me, it was similar to the type of work I had been doing as a Garda mostly community work, getting things sorted out for people, solving problems. When I first thought of running for local elections, I was thinking about politics and when it was described to me it appealed to me even more. If elected I’d be looking forward to doing that work which is a continuation of the work I’ve been doing for the past 20 years in Ardnacrusha”.
Prior to being stationed at Ardnacrusha, he was based at Roxboro, Askeaton, Ballylongford and started his career at Cahirciveen. On his current residence in Westbury, Eugene noted, “There is a lot of people living in the area from Limerick because it’s close to the city and it’s a beautiful estate with easy access to the city. A lot of Limerick people would have come out to live there because they are getting a mixture of rural and urban life, it’s a quieter way of life right on the edge of Limerick City with all the amenities it has to offer”.
Mixed views have been expressed locally on whether the Limerick border should extend into Clare including parts of Westbury, Carraigh Midhe and Shannon Banks. The fifty nine year old admitted that if elected he will carry the views of his own constituents rather than his personal beliefs.
“As a local politician I would do my best to do what the people want. My own personal thoughts would be the boundary is there a long time, I don’t see why Limerick would have to come out and take the part of Clare, there’s plenty on the outskirts of Limerick which is in County Limerick. You don’t see Dublin looking to extend their boundary into other counties around them, they just use up the land that is available in their own county. Whatever the locals want I will be acting for the locals, I will try and fulfil their wishes but I presume the people living in Clare would want to remain in Clare”.
A member of Fine Gael since March, Eugene is confident they will add to their current tally of one seat in the Shannon Municipal District. “Garret McPhillips is the other new contestant in the area, John Crowe is there all the time he is well established and has done huge work for the area. Garret is well known in GAA circles, a nice guy and a good hard worker. Over this side I’m well known and hopefully the three of us will get elected, it would be great for the Fine Gael party if we were and it would be great for the electoral area to have good representation here. We would be new and vibrant coming with new ideas, we should make a difference if elected so I would hope people would think like that”.
In March, The Sunday Times reported that Gardaí in Limerick were at the centre of one of the biggest internal corruption investigations of recent years with two officers facing questioning for corruption and malpractice. As someone who served as a Garda in the city, Long admitted to being surprised by the allegations. “Nobody has been convicted yet, if it were to be the case I would be very disappointed but again I’m not going to comment as nobody has been convicted at this stage, we don’t know where it is going to go.
“These are people I would have worked with, Ardnacrusha is part of the Henry St sub district. It’s always a shock and a surprise to find out if something is going on around you that you were unaware of, that would go for anyone walk of life”.
Through his work, the ex St Clements College student covered parts of the District including Cratloe, Meelick, Parteen, Clonlara, Truagh, Shannon Banks, Westbury and Carraigh Midhe, “I would know all of them areas like the back of my hand and most of the people who live there,” he will put his geography to the test by attempting to rack up as many first preference votes as possible.
Retirement marks a new phase of an individual’s life but for Long the chapter of politics is one he describes as “a godsend”. “When I was asked to do it it was right up my alley, this is a godsend for me, if I can get elected it is the type of work I love doing and all at a local level. I’ve been here nearly 20 years I know an awful lot of people around the area, they’ve become friends of mine and I look forward to being able to help them out with any issues they have”.