With the annual Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Meeting being held in Fingal last week, Balbriggan.Net was afforded the opportunity to report and cover the event. Balbriggan and Fingal are firmly in the sights of Fianna Fáil who are determined to win two seats at the next general election and have put forward two strong candidates, Darragh O’Brien TD and Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, the latter has set up office in Balbriggan. Together O'Brien and Clifford-Lee hosted this years Think-In at the Grand Hotel Malahide. Micheál Martin TD has visited Balbriggan and Balrothery in recent months and has seen first hand the great community spirit in the area.
I accepted the offer to report on the event and requested an interview with Party Leader Micheál Martin TD and both general election candidates Darragh O’Brien TD and Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee which was arranged. So, I headed off to spend the day in the press room in the Grand Hotel Malahide which was an experience in itself. Setting up camp between Newstalk and RTE correspondents was quite exciting and fascinating to see how these people operate. Later on, that evening after meeting many of the parliamentary party members all of whom were present, 44 TD’s and 14 Senators, I joined the political correspondents at the media table for a dinner hosted by Party Leader Micheál Martin TD.
Earlier on that afternoon the time came to sit down with Party Leader Micheál Martin TD and both general election candidates, Darragh O’Brien TD and Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, for our interview for Balbriggan.Net to discuss Balbriggan and their priorities for the area.
I began by welcoming them to Fingal and asking why they had chosen to host this year’s Parliamentary Meeting in Fingal. To which they responded by saying that the North County is a rapidly expanding area that as a consequence is representative of many of the issues facing the country as a whole. Those living in Fingal are left facing numerous challenges including health, the extreme shortage of suitable housing, and the escalating cost of childcare. Malahide is in the heart of the North County and The Grand Hotel, given its beautiful surroundings was a perfect location of our Parliamentary Party meeting ahead of the forthcoming Dáil term.
I then asked what would it mean for a town like Balbriggan to elect two Fianna Fáil TDs? Micheál Martin TD explained, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee and Darragh O’Brien TD are a hard-working team, committed to working to deliver better outcomes for those in the North County left behind under this Fine Gael led Government.
Securing two Fianna Fáil seats in the next general election will be the difference between a Government that invests in public services and suitable, affordable housing, and one that prioritises tax breaks for the very well off.
Canvassing in Balbriggan, Micheál Martin TD and both candidates are aware of the issues facing the town and the main focus for items on the agenda were these issues Housing, Childcare, Transport and Healthcare.
I went on to tell them about the new group that has formed in Balbriggan, North Fingal Pool Campaign with over 2000 supporters signed up so far seeking a Swimming Pool for North Fingal and asked what advice and assistance would you give this campaign? To which they responded that over the past 7 years there has been a very poor level of investment in Fingal’s Infrastructure and as the population continues to grow exponentially the deficits are becoming ever more problematic.
Given the degree of public support to develop a Swimming Pool in North Fingal, it’s clear that it is a hugely important amenity for people living in the locality.
It can be powerful when a community works together to deliver key objectives for the area. Both Darragh O’Brien TD and Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee continue to highlight the need for a swimming pool in North Fingal in Leinster House and will be pressing the Minister once again when the Oireachtas returns next week.
Micheál Martin TD addressed me directly and said he had canvassed with General Election candidate Lorraine Clifford- Lee in Balbriggan, Balrothery and Skerries and had seen for himself the public demand for a swimming pool. When I pressed him on the issue, Micheál Martin TD said under a Fianna Fáil Government that “you will get your pool” and to do that Dublin Fingal needed to return two Fianna Fáil TDs.
Trying to mention as many of Balbriggans fine organisations a bodies as I could including Balbriggan Tidy Towns, Meals on Wheels, CoderDojo, the Historical Society, numerous sports clubs and organisations I asked what can be done to encourage and maintain this community engagement?
They all agreed that It is always encouraging and worthwhile to see constructive engagement among all age groups in a community. Balbriggan is a vibrant and picturesque seaside town that has lots to offer anyone living in or visiting the town. It’s crucial that in order to maintain this, each of these community organisations and clubs are adequately funded and resourced to operate.
I thanked everyone for their time and extended an invitation to them to perhaps hold next years Think-In in Balbriggan.