‘I don’t come from a political dynasty’

The third of the by-election candidates, Labour’s Patrick Nulty, undergoes our Q&A session

Q. What have been the most challenging topics you have come across on the doorsteps?

A. There are three issues in the by-election. Jobs and job creation. Health and particularly Connolly Hospital. We must receive assurances that the A&E unit will remain open for 24 hours every day and that staff will be protected. The third is mortgages, so I was pleased to see the Keane report published, which suggested measures to deal with the crisis.

Q. The Fianna Fáil candidate suggests that you and others in the government parties would be silent backbenchers and useless keeping ministers to account. What’s your opinion of that?

A. As a public representative for the last two years I built up a reputation for straight talking and standing up for the communities that I represent. I was the first councillor for Fingal to call for votes for councillors not to be able to attend foreign conferences because I thought it was wrong for them to make such trips while resources were tight. I’ve also campaigned against developer-led rezoning in Dublin 15 and Fingal. Far from being a silent backbencher, if elected I’ll be someone who will drive the political agenda and speak out on the issues that matter to my community.

Q. What makes you eligible to be elected head and shoulders above the others?

A. I bring considerable experience to the table, I’ve worked for five years in the community and voluntary sector that means that I have a knowledge of what’s happening at the coalface of Irish society. I’ve a strong background in social policy so I will be able to provide constructive proposals when it comes to amending legislation and will look to improve areas like housing, health and education.

Q. Labour already have Joan Burton in that constituency. What difference would you make on a national stage?

A. I have the experience of having grown up in an area of high unemployment. I know how important it is getting people back to work and support for poor people to get an education. I don’t come from a political dynasty. My family have never had a TD or a councillor. I think I represent a new brand of politics in Irish society.

Q. It’s very difficult for government parties to win a by-election. Is it not impossible for you to get this seat?

A. I think we’ve a very strong chance of winning the seat. Records are meant to be broken and I’m a very determined person. The response I’m getting on doors is that people welcome the hard work done in the community and I hope they’ll give me their support on election day.

Q. You had a life-threatening experience when you were younger. It must make you understand the importance of healthcare. Do you want to explain what happened?

A. I was injured in a housefire when I was two weeks old. I was in my grandmother’s home and there was a housefire and I received severe burns. It was an important part of my life, but not something that defines me. I have burns on my face and my arms and I have a hoarseness in my voice as well from smoke inhalation as a baby.

So I was in hospital many times when I was younger and this has given me great respect for people who work in our public services, like our nurses.

Q. Who is a person you most admire in life, a public figure, who is not involved in politics?

A. Someone who I admire in artistic world is Damien Dempsey. He’s a good musician and the songs he creates are very relevant to the Ireland that we live in today.

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