MEET THE CANDIDATES: New faces to be welcomed in Trim

Story by John Donohoe

Thursday, 23rd May, 2019 9:41am

MEET THE CANDIDATES: New faces to be welcomed in Trim

Trim candidates (clockwise from left) Niamh Souhan, Joe Fox, Des Doran, Caroline Lynch, Sinead Geraghty, Aisling Dempsey

The Trim Municipal Area covers a wide stretch of south Meath, from the outskirts of Navan right down to Castlejordan, a foot of the county jutting into Westmeath and Kildare and touching Offaly.
Largely rural, it is headquartered in the ancient capital of the Royal County, Trim town, and like the three urban areas in the last local elections, the electoral map had changed since the previous vote, due to the abolition of the town councils and their amalgamation into the local municipal areas.

This meant that councillors who were sitting on town councils were now competing with county councillors - if they didn’t have a dual mandate.
Last time out, there were 13 candidates for the six-seater; this year, here are 11 vying for the six seats in the Trim area.
In 2014, Sinn Fein’s Caroline Lynch topped the poll, elected on the first count with over 200 votes to spare, while Fine Gael enjoyed success with Joe Fox, who had been previously co-opted to fill Deputy Ray Butler’s seat, was the first Fine Gael candidate elected of three – Noel French, who had filled Butler’s town council seat, and Enda Flynn, an Enfield school teacher.

Also elected were two more former town councillors – Independent Trevor Golden, and Fianna Fail’s Ronan McKenna.
Two of these sitting councillors are now departing the political scene – Flynn in Enfield, and McKenna in Trim.
This makes Trim a very interesting spot for election watchers, as it provides for any possibility being thrown up in the results.
Fianna Fail has a ticket of three women – McKenna’s sister-in-law, Aisling Dempsey, Vera Kelly of Enfield, and General Election candidate, Sinead Geraghty of Kinnegad, while Niamh Souhan is running for Fine Gael in the Enfield area.

Dempsey has political pedigree as the daughter of former minister, Noel, while Vera Kelly was within just seven votes of Enda Flynn in 2014. Sinead Geraghty, like her namesake in Ratoath, will have to put in a decent performance to justify her place on the national ticket, but will be up against it those two strong candidates.
Enfield is a place that many candidates are focusing on - Des Doran, the Aontu candidate, brought his party leader, Peadar Toibin, to the village, and highlighted issues such as childcare, public housing and public transport shortfalls – problems that are not unusual across the county as a whole.
Vera Kelly was ahead of Ronan McKenna up until the eight count the last time, but he want ahead with the help of the elimated Vincent McHugh, his FF colleague on Trim Town Council, and Labour man, James O’Shea, also a Trim townie.
Former Labour councillor, Tracy McElhinney, is also running again, but it will be hard to see Labour recovering from the meltdown it suffered in the last locals, when three sitting county councillors and three outgoing town councillors failed to be elected.

Joe Fox, a Ballivor native living in Summerhill, has a wide area to dip into for support, while a candidate to watch is the Social Democrats’ Ronan Moore from Trim, who has been building up a strong presence both for himself and the party over recent election campaigns, and is their general election candidate in Meath West.
All politics is local, the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, famously said. The question in the Trim Municipal Area will be – how local? Often, voters will cross party lines to vote for local candidates, rather than vote 1,2,3, down a party line. With the majority of sitting candidates surely safe, it will be down to the boiling points of Trim and Enfield to decide who fills the vacancies.

(Clockwise from top) Noel French, Vera Kelly, Ronan Moore, Tracy McElhinney, Trevor Golden.



Niamh Souhan 
Fine Gael

Tell us about yourself
I run the Family Business, Garry Souhan Engineering Ltd with my Father and Mother Garry and Phyllis.  Before working in the family business I worked in the childcare industry which gave me an understanding of the demands on young parents. Later I was a full-time carer. I am currently Honorary Secretary of Enfield Longwood and Summerhill Credit Union. I helped to establish the Baconstown /Enfield First Responders and have been involved with the group for the past 10 years. 

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?    
- Lack of Mental Health Services in the county.
- Construction of the Post Primary School in Enfield. 
- Traffic Calming in Longwood. 
- Exploiting the Canal Green way through in South Meath.
- Increase Garda Patrol in Rural areas in South Meath. 
- Speed up provision of Broadband.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?    
Improved Mental Health Services and greater participation by young people in the Apprenticeship Schemes to develop trades. I hope to have the opportunity to continue and deliver on the hard work of Cllr. Enda Flynn and look after other community concerns in the future working alongside Minister Damian English.

Caroline Lynch
Sinn Fein

Tell us about yourself    
I am currently a Councillor in the Trim MD. I am a post primary teacher with a degree in Sociology and politics. Education and supporting families and young people has always been at the core of my work.
I have been the SInn Fein spokesperson for Housing for the last five years trying to affect positive change in the way the council addresses the housing crisis. I enjoy my work to support the development of Tourism by being a member of the Trim Tourism Network. I was also vice chair of the Louth Meath Education and Training board and a board member of the Springboard Family support project.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?
Housing is a major issue in my constituency.  Rents are out of control with an average of €1,400 per month. Housing supply is in crisis and the council has little land to build on. 
There is a lack of infrastructure especially in smaller villages with no library or playgrounds in some areas. There is currently no affordable housing scheme operating.
There are not enough jobs in the Trim area so people are having to do long commutes which affects communities as people have a poor quality of life and little money after rent and bills are paid. There have been improvements in our road works programme but additional funding is needed as waiting times are to long.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?
If I am re elected I would Support the development of new school projects in Trim and Enfield. Continue to fight for more housing  to meet the needs of all including those with disabilities.
Support community in demanding facilities in Enfield and Trim and all areas in South Meath. 
Continue to lobby for library in St Kinniths in Ballivor .Lobby to get our fair share of resources in the county.
Work collaboratively to deliver a playground in Longwood.  Bring more jobs to Trim area by continuing to work with Trim Tourism network.

David Gilroy

Tell us about yourself    
I live and work in athboy. Elected in 2014 with strong community support. Chairman of Boyne Valley tourism. I work to support the  large number of groups  who strive to enhance our area.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?    
I hope to continue the work of promoting not only Kells  municpal district but also our whole county and region as a place to live, work and visit. To work in a non partisan way in partnership with all the varied stakeholders that make up our rich and vibrant area.

Sinéad Geraghty 
Fianna Fáil

Tell us about yourself    
As someone who grew up and is still living in the Parish of Ballinabrackey, I am acutely aware of the issues facing the people of South County Meath. 
While I trained as a Chartered Physiotherapist and I am now the Operations Manager of Tullamore Hospital, I am very concerned that while the economy may be improving, less attention is being paid to the type of society we live in.  If we are to reduce the level of stress in our lives and improve our quality of life, communities must be better supported at local level.  It is vital that our health and future sustainability be at the centre of all national and local decision making into the future. 

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?    
There are a number of issues affecting the people of South Meath and they include, but are not limited to:
1. Inequality of health services – the people of South Meath experience varying degrees of difficulty in accessing required health services. This is completely unacceptable and detrimental to the health and quality of life of patients and families.
2. Crime – while lack of Garda resources is a contributing factor to rural crime, the manner in which resources are utilised needs review, particularly around county boundaries.
3. Poor access to local amenities – there are particular areas in South Meath, in which the population growth is not supported by local amenities. Development needs to be fully planned and inclusive of specific amenities, as families and children suffer when this is not done. 
4. Affordable housing – it is evident that there are a number of houses vacant across South Meath. As of January 2019, there were 87 people registered as homeless1. We need to re-evaluate how we manage vacant houses in our communities.
While many other issues exist such as high unsustainable commercial rates for rural businesses, climate change and broadband, I feel that by engaging and empowering local communities, we can take steps towards addressing all of these issues, which are within our power.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?    
In terms of the issues mentioned above, if elected, I will deliver on the following:
1. Complete a capacity/demand report for community health services across South Meath, which will allow us to identify gaps in our current services. This will build the case for the required future development, which is needed to adequately serve our communities.
2. Promote a different plan for the delivery of Garda resources around county boundaries, which would allow for quicker response times, allowing communities to feel safer and ideally help to reduce rural crime rates.
3. Develop a local amenities directory, which is updated annually, and will provide a blueprint for future development. This would also keep local amenities on the agenda for any future housing developments within our community.
4. Engage communities to identify strategies to tackle high housing vacancy rates, which will allow us to better manage the problem of homelessness. 
Many people in South Meath feel helpless in how our communities are being managed and developed. If elected, I will work toward making this system more transparent and engage communities across South Meath to have a voice in our future.

Joe Fox 
Fine Gael

What do you hope to achieve if elected?    
One of my main priorities over the next 5 years will be to continue to promote job creation and enterprise so that people can work and live in a sustainable way in our local communities especially in the Trim South Meath area.
Upgrading of infrastructure in our rural areas and villages,roads,footpaths,lighting and broadband etc. will also be a priority to me.
Farming and the food industry is one is one main drivers of the rural economy, I will be working very closely with MEP Mairead McGuinness to ensure that farming issues are kept to the fore.
I will continue to work closely with sports clubs,community groups,tidy towns etc to ensure that they are successful in receiving funding under the various funding streams.

Trevor Golden

Tell us about yourself    
Trevor, an IT Professional, is an Independent Candidate who was first elected to Meath County Council in 2014. He first served as an Independent member of Trim Town Council and is currently a member of the Meath Independent Technical Group.
A proven Independent Councillor, Trevor was elected Leas-Chathaoirleach of Meath County Council in 2014 having previously been Cathaoirleach of Trim Town Council. Trevor is currently the Cathaoirleach of the Trim Municipal District.
Along with his responsibilities in the Trim Municipal District, Trevor was elected to the Louth-Meath Education & Training Board (LMETB), East Border Region Economic Development Forum and is a member of Meath’s Economic Strategic Planning Committee (SPC). Trevor is also Chairperson of the Meath Joint Policing Committee.
As a member of the LMETB, Trevor is Chairperson of Coláiste Clavin Post Primary School, Longwood, a board member of Boyne Community School, Trim and Athboy Community School.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?    
Commuting, local opportunities for employment, amenities & services, road & pedestrian/cyclist safety, rural Broadband, housing and planning.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?    
Trevor hopes to continue to build on his work to date with realistic, achievable goals that are within the remit of the local authority. He wants additional amenities to improve quality of life and to help tackle issues such anti-social behaviour. He wants to continue to work for further improvements to road safety and maintenance. To further develop and promote the economic strategy to support existing businesses and attract more investment into the county. Trevor sees the need to empower communities and he will work to see that the supports needed to help solve issues such as

Des Doran

Tell us about yourself    
A native of Trim. I have 2 daughters. I work as a maintenance electrician. I have a keen interest in GAA, rugby and I am a member of South Meath Golf Club. I have supported Peadar Toibin since Save Navan Hospital 2010. I am the chairperson of the Lawrence O'Connor Cumann Aontu Trim since established in January 2019. I am the first member of my family to enter local politics and I carry no baggage, just a desire to serve the people of South-West Meath.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?
Small local businesses under economic pressure from large conglomerates and unfair levies.
Not getting services being paid for. An example of such being policing , public transport, amenities and maintenance
Too many Commercial and Residential properties  
not being utilised. 

What do you hope to achieve if elected?    
-Fairer and sustainable businesses in our communities; focusing on retaining and attracting more businesses in such
-Playground and Traffic Management for Longwood
-Upgraded water scheme for Clonard
-More amenities for Enfield, including pushing for the secondary school that was promised
-The original 115A morning bus time be restored as promised by the NTA and Bus Eireann in Ballivor, Summerhill and Rathmolyon
-NEC campus to be a functioning business providing employment locally in Ballivor
-Rathmolyon to have a public banking scheme run by the people to serve the working community
-Address anti social behaviour by means of better communication between the Gardai and the public in Trim. More Gardai are needed with more funding for such. Project manage a CCTV scheme whereby closed circuit cameras are placed in higher areas of crime incidence and as such helps prevent crime.  

Noel French
Fine Gael

Tell us about yourself    
I have been very active in community organisations throughout the county. I am running because I want to make a difference in my local community. I am very committed to the area. I want to do the very best for Trim and South Meath. I was elected a councillor in 2014. I had to fight for a seat -  gaining one on the tenth and final count.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?
My Priorities:
Supporting Community Groups
Promoting Tourism and Heritage
Traffic Concerns – Road Surfaces, Gritting, Speeding, etc.
Supporting Tidy Towns 
New facilities for young people and children – youth clubs & playgrounds
Mental Health – supporter of a number of different groups and bodies. 
Local Theatre or Performing Space for Trim
Better Accessibility for all

What do you hope to achieve if elected?    
Support communities to make Meath a better place to live. To provide a reliable service to people with problems and queries.

Ronan Moore 
Social Democrats

Tell us about yourself
I was raised and educated in Trim and Summerhill and I now live in Laracor with my wife and two young children. I’m a secondary-school teacher in St. Patrick’s Classical School in Navan, a job I enjoy immensely. When not spending time with family and friends, in my free-time I like to write and have had a number of books published by Gill & MacMillan; and run for my local athletic club, Trim AC.
I have a Masters in Sustainable Development and worked overseas in Nigeria with Trócaire for several years. While I have continued working in a voluntary capacity for local and national charitable organisations since I returned home this is my first involvement in politics. 

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?
Cost of living is a big issue. Rents in Trim and south Meath have been allowed to spiral out of control. Despite many people being commuters, commuter status fares for public transport doesn’t extend out to Enfield or Clonard. When you also take in child-care costs, health-care costs and keeping cars on the road families have very little disposable income. 
There is also a real feeling that people are not being treated fairly from two-tier health services to the lack of transport options depending on where you live. Meanwhile, places like Longwood, Ballivor and Enfield have seen huge population growth in recent years but little in the way of local and social amenities to go with this except for what has been fund-raised by local groups. There is a real sense that people in this part of the county have been forgotten about. 

What do you hope to achieve if elected?    
I want Meath to be one of the best places to live, work and raise a family. I will campaign to make Meath a leader in how people with disabilities are at the heart of decision-making. I will shine more of a light on the planning process and where money is being spent, and that money generated from new developments is spent in these areas to help build and sustain communities. I will promote community hubs in every town and village, as well as adequate recreation, sport and play facilities. 
I will campaign to make the council greener, promoting biodiversity and encouraging them to exceed our climate change targets. I will advocate for fairer funding for Meath County Council and push for fairer access to housing and health within the county.
I want to make people more aware of what the Council can and cannot do for them and give communities a real say in how our taxes are spent by introducing participatory budgeting. I will represent all communities fairly and raise awareness on the role of the Joint-Policing Committees to help make people feel safer and more secure in their homes. Finally, I promise to work with any and all elected representatives to achieve these aims irrespective of party affiliation.

Aisling Dempsey
Fianna Fáil

Tell us about yourself
I'm a 35-year-old first-time candidate, married to James with a two-year-old Liam.  I've been involved in politics from a young age.  I'm working in Maynooth as an administrative executive in a house-building company. I have worked with Councillor Ronan McKenna and Noel Dempsey when they were involved in politics and have gained insight into how local politics should work for people.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent? 
The main issues affecting the Trim/South Meath area are anti-social behaviour, a lack of jobs locally meaning people have to travel to Dublin to work, lack of affordable housing and lack of affordable childcare.  All these issues must be resolved to make it easier for people to live, work and raise a family in Meath.

What do you hope to achieve if elected?     
Working through the Council, I will work tirelessly to increase investment in Meath.  Meath doesn't receive its fair share of national funding and now needs to catch up.  More investment will mean more jobs for people in the county.  This could reduce the amount of time young people spend commuting to work.  They could have hours of their lives back and have time and energy to commit to their families and communities.
There are a number of Government funds aim at Rural and Urban centre regeneration.  It's up to local authorities to access these funds and I think Meath County Council needs to step up to access more of this funding.  In addition, Meath County Council must start building houses again.  The lack of affordable housing is putting pressure on young people, families and grandparents.  The social housing waiting list is also too long due to the lack of social and private residential available. 
Finally, community groups play a major role in adding to the social and economic life of our towns and villages.  The County Council needs to provide more support to these groups, particularly in helping them to work together to attract investment and tourism into their towns. 

Tracy Mcelhinney

Tell us about yourself     
Ballivor native Tracy McElhinney has deep roots in the area where she lives and has a large extended family.  She was elected to Meath County Council for the first time in 2009, and is seeking to regain her seat. She has been appointed the Local Area Representative for the Trim Electoral Area. 

Tracy is a member of the Trim Branch of the Labour Party and is the daughter of Pat and Della Loughlin from Ballivor. She is married to George McElhinney with two sons and lives in Ballivor. A granddaughter of the late Frank (Dully) Coughlan who was a great Labour Party activists, she is also a grandniece of Jack Murtagh Rathwire. 

Tracy is an active member of her community. She has been involved in setting up the local library in Ballivor, and is campaigning for the library to be rehoused in the local derelict Church of Ireland building. There are a number of derelict buildings in the area and Tracy is pushing for those to be used for housing. Tracy is also involved with the Scouts and the Ballivor Horse Show. She is the first female Chair of Louth Meath Education & Training Board, and was involved together with the community in driving the building of the new secondary school. In long wood

Workers’ rights and representing people at a time when the nature of work is changing is Tracy’s priority. Tracy is a former employee of NEC Semi Conductors Ireland, having worked for the company for over 12 years and was also a shop steward. Following her redundancy in 2006, Tracy set up the employment lobby group Next Era Calling with former employees and some community members to fight for the rights of workers.

Vera Kelly 
Fianna Fail

Tell us about yourself    
I live in Enfield and am married to Gerard and have 4 Adult children.
I am a General/Psychiatric Nurse. I’ve worked as part of a Multidisciplinary Teams in Adult Mental Health services all my career caring for the most vulnerable in our society.
Diploma in Healthcare Management with IPA
Diploma in REBT counselling
Associate level 9 Business Degree with AIT in Strategic Planning for Brexit.
Ran in Local elections in 2014 missed out by 5 votes, continued to work locally with FF organisation and I have been the Local Area representative since 2017.
Ran a local successful campaign to maintain GP services in local area.
Member of Enfield Development Group.

What are the main issues affecting the area you represent?   
Trim Local electoral area/South Meath (SM)
Access to Adult Mental Health services. Admission beds are in Drogheda. Inadequate homecare supports, such as homecare teams, clinics, psychotherapies etc
Disability services, difficulty and delays accessing services and Therapies which are fundamental for the development of speech, language and mobility. If these stages are missed there are irreparable milestones missed. Towns and village are not wheelchair accessible thus impeding independence of people with disabilities and the elderly with mobility issues 
Inadequate homecare hours afforded to the aged. Carers are not being supported.
Housing for young and aged is not coming on stream fast enough to accommodate people. Grandparents are shouldering the responsibility of housing and caring for their children and grandchildren. Sometime causing financial poverty and undue stress to Grandparents.
Transport network is accessible to most people in SM. Inadequate parking around train stations and bus stops. Transport on our trains and buses is expensive and slow from SM 
Antisocial behaviour and the menace of drugs. 
Fly tipping in rural areas.
Lack of funding and support to voluntary organisations who must continuously raise money to exist.
Safety measure/speeding particularly in housing estates and rural roads.
Continued unabated deterioration of rural and regional roads. Footpaths and streets in towns and villages are not maintained or repaired. There seems to be no linked up thinking with other agencies when paths are laid, other networks re- dig paths, they are  not required to repair to even a reasonable standard
Increase in Rates and small businesses suffering.
Inadequate local employment, unavoidable long commutes for residents of SM.  

What do you hope to achieve if elected?    
If elected I will be active in South Meath 
I will continue to promote positive mental health and will fight to ensure a Healthcare system accessible to all   
Fight for delivery of Social/Affordable housing, to include housing for our ageing community.
Fight for Increase in affordable care hours for the aged.
Actively working for the regeneration of our towns and villages, with specific focus on reduction of commercial rates.
Promoting the development of civic and community space in our locality  
Working with An Gardaí ensuring our communities are a safer place for all.
Continuing the fight for provision of secondary school in Enfield. 
Improved road safety outside all primary schools and entrance to our villages and towns.
Fight for suburban rail extension to Enfield. Rail networks needs maintenance and upgrade.
Introducing SM as a viable option for industrial development and improved local employment opportunities
Tourism in SM needs to be developed in line with the opening of the Greenway. Historical monuments need to be saved.