*Photograph by Eamon Ward
Whether or not he as Clarecastle’s only public representative on Clare County Council will receive a backlash in May over Roche’s looming closure is something Cllr Paul Murphy is unsure about but he’s certain on the gender imbalance that exists on the local authority.
Roche is set to close its Clarecastle facility in nine months following the decision of the Swiss pharma company to put it up for sale in 2015 along with three other facilities. Of the four, the Clarecastle site was the only one not to secure a buyer. Murphy is hesitant to say if he expects this will damage his vote in the village. “Being realistic the power of a councillor doesn’t go to that level, I can make representations to Roche but that’s a far bigger picture unfortunately. A multi-national company goes beyond the remit of a county councillor, I wouldn’t think it will but God only knows”.
A quick scan of Paul’s profile on the Fine Gael website highlights that he is “committed to the issue of gender quotas”. Seeing as Clare County Council has just three three female elected representatives, he maintained the shortcomings are clear to see.
“It’s quite good in the Ennis area but of course across the county there’s a glaring imbalance. It speaks for itself, there’s only three members out of twenty eight that are female. That could be due to a variety of reasons, I don’t mean to sound sexist but there would be a view there that women are seen as the stay at home parent rather than males but on a personal level I would have bucked the trend in that I was very hands on in rearing my own two kids, I do realise and recognise the time and commitment involved to try and make a political career and being a parent, to make it work can be a challenge. How you go about it is another question, in the past I would have proposed a motion that some kind of childcare facilities may be provided in local authorities which may help but it’s anyone guess as to why there aren’t more women involved in politics and it goes for all politics be it Macra na Feirme, the IFA or the GAA it tends to be a male dominated world”.
In recent years, Paul himself was a stay at home dad but his two sons have since moved on to primary school. “I still do most of the trucking with the kids dropping them to school. I’m not as much at home as I would have been two or three years ago”.
A seat will be lost on the Ennis Municipal District following the boundary changes. Paul explained to The Clare Echo how he will plan to ensure it is not his place in the Chamber that goes as a result. “To promise people fair and decent representation as I have always done and what I aspire do, I never make false promises just try and represent people to the best of my ability. I’ve a fairly good strike rate in getting my representation dealt with in the Council, it’s all about being myself and being true to the people, they’ve responded to me for the last 12 years and elected me so I hope they will continue to do so”.