*Photograph: John Mangan
Next year’s local elections will be Barry O’Donovan’s first foray into running for public office and he’s determined to fight the cause for the “exploited farmers” of East Clare.
On Thursday, the Green Party unveiled the forty five year old Limerick native as a candidate in the Killaloe Municipal District for the 2019 local elections. Born in Woodview, Barry moved to Ballyvaughan in 2007 and three years ago he took up residence in Tuamgraney. He is looking forward to canvassing in the coming months and talking to the people of East Clare.
One group of individuals in particular he is keen to chat with are those involved in agriculture who he feels are “being exploited at the moment in order to meet national goals in exporting beef to make our balance and trade work”. “I want to help and work with them so farming can afford them a good quality of life without having to worry about borrowing money, repaying loans, having another job, there will be grants involved, there will be assistance with land. I also want them to know that I respect the work they are doing. They produce the food we eat, they maintain the land that we live in and around, the water we drink flows through the environment that they create and I think it’s very important we respect and pay them attention. Even if I don’t get that farmers vote if I hear what he’s saying then myself, my colleagues in the Green Party and us in society can move towards creating a future where that farmer has a viable business and enjoyable life”.
Although he has only joined the Green Party in recent months, O’Donovan admitted he has always had an interest in politics and points to his involvement in an anti-nuclear campaign fifteen years ago as an example of this. He maintained alternative ways of travel must be found for those that must commute.
Last week, he attended his first meeting of Clare County Council in the public gallery, he hopes this time next year to be seated in the Chamber but felt it isn’t “progressive”. “I think the structure of local Government is a problem. I’ve seen those councillors out working, it’s a particular approach to politics, it is representing local interests because that’s what they can do. I think and what I would strive to do is to try and help people build a new future. Running and getting onto Clare County Council, my purpose would be to shape the way Clare County Council does its business, inform it and move it towards a place where it can actively meet the needs of the people of Clare”.
Family connections to the county are much less for the former Shannon Airport apprentice aircraft engineer than the individuals he will oppose in the coming months but he has links to Kilkishen on his father’s side that he is quite proud of. “In a way it’s funny being around East Clare because it’s like coming home, my great grandfather left Kilkishen with a horse and the price of a ticket to America and fell in love, got married and didn’t get further than Limerick, that’s where he settled then. It doesn’t count for much in terms of votes but three or four generations back all of my family on one side are from East Clare”.