‘If someone is qualified for a job then age shouldn’t matter’

GRINDING down shoe leather for the past 12 months, first-time Fine Gael South Central candidate Emmet O’Halloran maintains being a newcomer this time out is proving to be a help rather than a hindrance.

Young, enthusiastic and offering a fresh voice, the Turner’s Cross man believes people are ready for change and are embracing fresh faces on the doorstep.

And, he says, his passion for politics, Cork and a deep sense of community spirit are the reasons why he should be voted in.

Top priority for the 27-year-old human resources officer upon election would be to tackle the city’s social housing crisis. There are almost 4,500 on the housing list, he says, and an increasing problem with people living in dilapidated dwellings.

He comes qualified with a long history of community work.

“Cork city needs strong representation to allow it to compete for jobs and stimulus packages,” he said.

“We need some job creation to get the city going again.

“I have two friends who have just been made redundant so I aware of how difficult it is out there.

“People on the doorsteps are mainly asking about jobs, the economy and what we are going to do about it,” he said.

A former Ógra Fianna Fáil member, it may appear as though Mr O’Halloran switched parties to capitialise on the Fine Gael’s new momentum, but he joined the party more than a year ago, after became disillusioned with how things were being run.

It’s a good time to be in Fine Gael, he says, and the challenge now is to channel the need for change into votes.

With a high ratio of senior citizens in his ward – one of the city’s most densely populated and traditional neighbourhoods – he does not believe however that his youth will act as a deterrent for voters.

“Hopefully people will judge me on what I do and not on my age. I believe if someone is qualified for a job then age should not matter.”

Here too, he is keen to see more social outlets and structures for younger families who are increasing moving into the area.

“It is an old area of the city where a lot of new young families are moving into but there is nothing there for them. It is a ticking time bomb as far as I am concerned.”

But city councillors should not only look out for their own wards but the city as a whole, he believes.

“The are a lot of systems which are just not working, and you have the situation where the person with the most power – the city manager is not a democratically elected representative. Local politicians should be working harder on local issues to leave TDs free to legislate.”

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