*Cllr Ian Lynch. Photograph: Gary Collins
Kilrush must set the way for the rest of West Clare and Cllr Ian Lynch is adamant the town needs a voice on Clare County Council to do just that.
Elected to the local authority as an Independent in 2014, Ian served his political apprenticeship on Kilrush Town Council from 2009 – 2014, then as a member of the Fine Gael party. Their decision not to select him backfired five years ago, as he successfully flew his own wings. Deciding to go on his own was not too difficult he admitted.
“My purpose wasn’t to serve a party but the people of West Clare. It wasn’t difficult personally, I wanted to make sure things happened in West Clare in my tenure of the Council and that was my sole purpose, if the party didn’t see a use for me that’s grand, it’s the people of West Clare making the decision”.
Though he believed seeing party operations is beneficial for anyone in politics. “It was very good to see how it works from within a party and to see it from the other side as an Independent. I think there is a need for Independent councillors because at certain times in the Council decisions are made by the party as opposed to the individuals in the particular are and that shouldn’t be the case, the decision should be made on the merits of it as opposed to what the party thinks. I think there is a position for an Independent on the Council and that’s where I’ll be staying”.
Before his election, Kilrush had no elected representative on the local authority. The HSEQ manager with Keating told The Clare Echo why the town needs to have a voice on the Council. “Kilrush is the capital of West Clare and if Kilrush is going well the surrounding hinterland is going well. In order to make sure Kilrush is at the forefront there needs to be someone at the table and shouting so that we get our fair share of money being spent. In 2014 the issue was the Town Council was gone and we had the lowest rates and it was important that fight was kept up to ensure it was competitive against the rest of the county, you need to have a councillor in the large towns like Kilrush and we need to make sure that it sets the benchmark for the other towns and villages going forward”.
At a meeting of the Clare JPC in February, the father of three highlighted that the drug problem in West Clare was “out of control”. When asked if there has been an improvement in the three months since making the comments, he stated, “I wish I could say yes but I have heard there is an inter-agency meeting held once or twice but the problem was the last meeting was in Ennis not West Clare and if you’re going to provide services you need to have them in the place where they are needed, to move it to Ennis isn’t a good idea. They are not reaching out to the people who need the help and we’ve a huge problem with educating our youth to make sure they avoid the pitfalls of drugs because the fact so many people are getting involved in drugs shows that the education system isn’t working around it. There is a lot more to be done with it and services needed for the families and friends of those involved in drugs to make sure they can make a difference”.
Seeking re-election was not a decision made lightly by Lynch whose work and family commitments almost prompted him to walk away from politics. “When you’re getting stuff done it’s a great position, it’s very difficult with work and family life, with the three kids now it’s busy and I looked to see was anyone else interested in Kilrush. There was a lot of stuff I wanted to do, I really wanted to go again this time but the time commitments were difficult, the people I asked felt I had the experience and the passion for progress that they would much rather if I went so we discussed it at home and at the time we’d been taking over by a new company so I wasn’t sure if I’d get the commitment from them to let me off so I spoke to them and they were happy to support me going forward, once I got the commitment from them I was happy to put my name forward. It was just to make sure I had that, I didn’t want to be going and finding my employer wouldn’t let me off work and then let the people down that voted for me. Now that I have got the commitment from them, I’ve no problem putting my name forward and trying to continue the good work”.
Prior to the 2014 local elections, the forty one year old declared “change is badly needed. People are sick of seeing the same old, same old. It’s time for new blood, new spirit, fight and new passion”. While he is keen to see further new ideas and faces, Ian will be determined not to lose his seat at their expense. “I’ve always said that there needs to be a certain amount of new blood the whole time, it’s very important that we get change and don’t have the same policies maintained from Council to Council. It needs fresh, new blood and new ideas the whole time. It’s disappointing this time with the level of interest in becoming a councillor, people are starting to realise the difficulty and the hours involved in it and the amount of control we have. The important thing is trying to keep looking at ways to create change and positive change, change is always difficult but it is always good because you get a different perspective. Every Council term is time for change”.