Former Mayor of Kilkenny, Seán Ó hArgáin has announced that he is to seek the Labour nomination to contest next year’s local elections in an attempt to regain a seat for the party in the city.
Mr Ó hArgáin was a member of Kilkenny Borough Council from 2004 to 2014 and served as Mayor of the city from 2012 to 2013. He also represented the city on the board of the Watergate Theatre for that decade and served on a number of committees of the council including the local Policing committee and Walled Towns Committee.
Since 2014, Mr Ó hArgáin has served as a board member of the Butler Gallery. He has also been appointed to the board of Foras na Gaeilge, the north-south body responsible for the Irish language and was last week elected national Vice President of Gaeloideachas, the umbrella body for Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools.
On a political level, Mr. Ó hArgáin has served as Chairperson of the Carlow/Kilkenny Labour Party for the past two years and led the campaign for the re-election of President Michael D. Higgins. He was one of the invited guests at the inauguration celebrations in Dublin Castle.
‘I have given a long period of thought to this decision. The Labour Party has held a seat in Kilkenny City since the foundation of the state, with the exception of the last four years. I believe that we have served the city well over the years with the tradition of the Pattison, Martin, Cody, Patterson and Fitzpatrick families standing proudly among others. Our city needs the clear voice of Labour to represent working people and their interests and I hope I can restore that voice.
I hope to focus on the crucial issues of housing and health. In terms of housing, we currently have over 2,000 people on the housing waiting list in Kilkenny with over 60% of those in the city. It is simply unacceptable that over 1,000 people, many of them family units have no place to live in our city in 2018. I will support the provision of public housing but I will demand a well-planned strategy which is based on real, pro-active consultation with local communities to ensure a home for everybody in need.
I led the political campaign for the building of the new Accident and Emergency facility at St. Luke’s Hospital, organizing the first public meeting on the issue as a councillor in 2005 and pursuing the then health board and health and safety authority for the publication of key reports into the unsafe conditions for patients and workers at that time. I will continue to campaign for improvements in every level of the local health service, particularly in the area of mental health services.
I will also fight for the continued sustainable development of the city. I was the first elected councillor to demand a city bus service, park and ride facilities and a public bike scheme. I will continue to fight for a city where pedestrians and cycling come first in a healthy environment but also a city in which the protection of our core city Centre business are protected and promoted.
As the Mayor who hosted the first consultation meeting on the development of the Brewery site, I will prioritise its development as a vibrant community space where jobs, community facilities, creativity and education exist side by side in the most important development project for our city in the coming decades.’
Mr. Ó hArgáin said he looked forward to engaging with party members over the coming weeks and hoped they would place their confidence in him to restore the Labour voice in the city.