1.What can you do as an Independent?

Working together with like minded Independents in South Dublin County Council, I have made a bigger impact in the past 18 months than most Councillors have in ten years.  It is hard to get work done on your own, but with the support and expertise of other independents, you can deliver the changes that are desperately needed.

2. Why an Alliance instead of a Party?

One of the biggest failings of the party political system is the Party Whip.  I have seen firsthand in SDCC how broken this system is with party members forced to vote for or against something they feel very strongly about.  That is the opposite of democracy.  If as a party you aren’t representing the views of your own members, how can you effectively represent the views of the people who voted for you?

3. But voting for a bunch of Independents will bring instability.  

Independents have been present in every single Dáil since 1921 and despite being critical of independents, most Taoisigh have looked to them for support (40% of governments). Massive numbers of Independents were voted in at the last GE, but they weren’t organized beforehand.  Now, with the Independent Alliance, we are a group of about 20 candidates working together to support a minority government.  As Independents, we pledge to support the Government on finance and confidence motions, thereby ensuring stability.  But as Independents we can vote as we wish on all other legislation and that is where real democracy comes into play because by bringing about compromise and debate, we have fairer and more representative legislation.  Can you believe that the Water Charges Bill and Property Tax Bill were only debated for two hours in the Dail – which is so shocking when you consider the effects they have had on our society.  The Alliance system isn’t new – There have been seven such charters in Australia in past 25 years and they have one of the most stable and thriving economies in the world.

4. Is there anyone you wouldn’t go into government with?

I am not ruling anyone in or anyone out.  The priority is to be in government to bring about political reform for the benefit of the entire country.

5. Where are you on the political spectrum?

I am neither on the left nor on the right but am somewhere in the middle – struggling. That is the main reason I got involved in politics in the first place because I saw the devastation caused to my community by the economic crash.  The recovery has come at a massive cost to many families and the fact that this government is borrowing to pay for a giveaway budget to buy this election proves that no lessons have been learnt.

6. What is your view on the Water Charges?

Having to deal with Irish Water on a regular basis has confirmed to me that this company is not fit for purpose, as it stands.  I am all about value for money and this super Quango with its big business bonus culture is the complete opposite of that.  The message of water conservation has been lost in the recent arguments.  We need to conserve this precious resource (although those battling flood waters at the moment could successfully argue that point) and there should certainly be penalties for those who waste it.  So I propose the original system of having a very generous household allowance with charges coming into effect if you go over that.

7. What is your view on Article 8 of the Constitution.

The people of Ireland need to have their say on this very contentious issue for once and for all.  As a mother, I trust women to make the right choices about their own bodies.

8. How do you deal with the homeless situation?

This is something I deal with on a daily basis and it has hit every community, not just our most vulnerable.  The problem we have is trying to find the balance between the small landlord who is renting out a single property because that’s his pension and he needs to save as much as he can for the future, against lower income earners who will never be able to afford their own home and who are at the mercy of rent hikes forcing them out of the market.  What the market needs is housing associations or large investors who are in the rental market for the long-term, providing security of tenure to families for decades – the system in place in Mainland Europe.

9. What do you plan to do about the Health System?

As a member of the Regional Health Forum, I meet with the HSE every month and, again, this is not fit for purpose.  How can such a massive money pit be so ineffective?  The more managers there are in place, the more red-tape and form-filling there is and the less patient-centred the whole system becomes.  My grandmother is in a public nursing home and the staff there are amazing, but because of staff cuts and recruitment bans, there aren’t enough of them.  And those that are there have to spend so much time filling in forms about the level of care, the actual time spent with patients is halved.  There needs to be a complete overhaul of the Health system, starting with looking to see where the money is being spent.

10. Why would I vote for you – you are all the bloody same.

There has been a complete shift politically in the last number of years and this has driven many community, volunteer background people like myself into politics.  As a volunteer, your motivation is not ‘What’s in it for me’, but ‘What can I do for my community’, and that’s why we’re not all the bloody same.  I cannot sit at home saying how dreadful the whole situation is, I have to try to be part of the solution and that is why I am doing this job which takes me away from my kids so much – I have to try and make this a better place for them to grow up in.