John Halligan this week confirmed his candidacy for either the by-election due to take place in Waterford or the next general election.
“People just don’t trust the big parties any more,” Mr Halligan said yesterday. “I think the budget will get through but, after that, I think what will happen is that in the early spring they’re going to go into an election.”
A former Workers Party representative, Mr Halligan stood in the 2007 general election while a member of that party and attracted almost 1,800 first preferences. However, he pointed out he topped the poll at the most recent local elections in his own ward in Waterford city and, this time around, has the backing of fellow independent councillors Cha O’Neill and Davy Daniels.
More than 500 people turned up at a meeting on Monday night to support Mr Halligan’s candidacy while he is also setting up an office in Dungarvan and has a team of canvassers in Tramore.
Asked what his key priorities are for the constituency, he replied: “Waterford is one of the seven major cities, but we’ve one of the highest unemployment rates. We’ve had no sustainable job creation and that’s incredible for a gateway city.”
He pointed to job losses in former blue-chip employers such as Waterford Crystal, Teva and Bausch & Lombe and said the area needs a jobs task force.
The four-seat Waterford constituency currently has one Fine Gael TD (John Deasy), one Labour (Brian O’Shea) and one Fianna Fáil (Brendan Kenneally), with the fourth held by former minister Martin Cullen until his resignation from the Dáil this year.
With Fianna Fáil currently low in the polls, most observers do not expect them to regain the fourth seat and John Halligan will be targeting a strong anti-political establishment vote, as will Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane. Fine Gael will hope Senator Paudie Coffey can make a gain for the party.