Four first-time election hopefuls in Cork put party differences aside to head back to their former school and meet the teacher who inspired a love of politics.
The Coláiste Chríost Rí past-pupils are all battling for local authority seats in Cork tomorrow. And two of them will be competing for their former teacher’s number one vote.
Although they were not in the same class, Fine Gael candidates Emmet O’Halloran and David O’Byrne, Green Party candidate Stephen Crowley and Independent candidate Kieran McCarthy were all taught at one time or another by Tony Power, who has since retired.
They credited him with inspiring them to become interested in local government and politics.
Mr O’Halloran is running in Cork city’s south central ward for a seat on the city council. Mr Crowley and Mr McCarthy are running against each other in the city’s south east ward – where Mr Power lives.
Mr O’Byrne is fighting for a seat in the Carrigaline electoral area in the hope of being elected to Cork County Council.
Emmet O’Halloran, 27, is chairperson of Turner’s Cross Community Association, a director of Turner’s Cross Community Development Club, and chairperson of the Fine Gael Ballyphehane branch.
He credited Mr Power, who taught him English for five years, with fostering his interest in politics and current affairs.
“My interest in politics and current affairs began when I was in Mr Power’s first year English class,” he said.
“Mr Power encouraged me to get involved in debating, and that interest in politics and currents affairs went on through college, my masters in the Smurfit Business College, and here I am, 12 years later, running for election for the first time. “I am eternally grateful to Mr Power and Chríost Rí for planting that initial seed.”
Historian Kieran McCarthy, who was taught Leaving Cert English by Mr Power in 1996, said he had a huge influence on his decision to enter politics.
“He inspired a huge number of us to have an interest in local government and local history and the environment,” Mr McCarthy said.
“He gave me my first consultancy project in schools and was always very supportive of my historical exhibitions.”
He said there was a healthy rivalry between all three of the city council candidates during the reunion at Chríost Rí.
“We are looking towards the finishing line now,” he said.
The only question now is who will finish top of the class tomorrow.