As pointed out by the Independent.ie , 101 candidates running in the local elections are aged between 18-30 years-old. I want to get a flavour of how my generation is getting involved.
Most of Galway’s inhabitants are united by several underlying core issues that are blighting the community.
- The HOUSING CRISIS dominates headlines with figures for February showing that the number of people living in emergency accommodation passed 10,000 for the first time this year. The average monthly rent in Galway city is €1,260, which is an 11.4 per cent increase since 2018 according to the Galway Advertiser.
- Then there’s a lack of planning to address THE CLIMATE CRISIS.
- And of course there’s the infamous TRANSPORT and TRAFFIC issues.
SO WHAT CAN OUR LOCAL COUNCIL DO TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES? AND WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE THEY’RE NOT DOING ENOUGH?
It’s a grim, grey muggy day when I sit down with Joe Loughnane the candidate for People Before Profit in the upcoming Local Council Elections, to ask him for his take on it all.
For Joe, the main problem appears to be: an old local council gives old politics.
“The main reason I’m running is because some of them have been there thirty years and see the City Council like a retirement home. One or two councillors are full time independent councillors – you can only do that if you’re retired“.
“But this isn’t about age. I had a 67 year-old woman say to me yesterday ‘it’s about time my generation voted for people like you, we’ve got to stop voting for people our age”.
And Joe’s very open about the fact he’s here to pick a fight. A Galwegian native who rents and doesn’t drive, he shares in common with Sharon Nolan from the Social Democrats first hand experience of being one of The Precariat.
‘Yeah, but I have first hand experience too – what makes him so special?’ I hear you cry into your post-work pint.
I’ll tell you.
First off, Joe has spent much of his life bridging several identities: he is half Irish and half Pakistani, and has dedicated most of his life to being an activist – having founded the Galway Anti Racism Network in 2016.
He’s also an outgoing community representative on the Galway Joint Policing Committee and is still heavily involved in the Public Participation Network. He has a BA in Law and Philosophy, an LLB and a Masters in International Human Rights Law.
So Joe likely knows a thing or two about fighting for the underdog.
I’ll let him tell you more:
Ok, fine, but what difference will my vote make?
According to Joe, plenty.
Sure the local councils have been stripped of a lot of their power by the centralising policies of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – for example waste, health, education and licensing for gigs and pubs are not decided by Dublin.
But housing and transport are two things a councillor can actually do something about.
And if you voted someone like Joe in you’d have a representative fighting to draw that power back to your local council.
“This city, this county has been destroyed by the privatisation of basic transport routes, hospitals, and giving over of public land to private developers”
So what would Joe do differently?
- Every week that he had meetings as a councillor he would have parallel meetings in town and on his Facebook page (he has a completely open social media page) and he would update every one on absolutely everything he legally and ethically can.
- He would organise town hall meetings every month to consult with his constituents
- He would build public housing on public land
- He would campaign for the re-nationalisation of transport, waste, and hospitals
- He would advocate for minority voices including the Traveller community
- He would campaign for the night-time industries
- He would work towards supporting local small business more
- He would work to tighten up rental laws
What makes Joe different from other candidates?
The problem, according to Joe, is that the other parties are simply not radical enough because they are still to tied to the capitalist model.
“I analysed all the other parties – Labour, the greens, social democrats and they all want to manage capitalism. Labour wants to achieve similar ends to my party but they want to do it through the capitalist model; the Greens believe we can change the environment within the capitalist model, and the social democrats – in fairness they’re a lovely party and very new – but the proof’s in their name: I realised as a student of philosophy and politics that they didn’t represent me. They should simply be called ‘socialists’. Otherwise they’re still operating within the confines of capitalism.”