DESPITE his election campaign taking a big toll on his finances, Independent candidate Seán O’Leary, says he is happy with his decision to run in 11 constituencies.
Whilst he failed to win a seat in the Dáil, Mr O’Leary is proud of the efforts he put into his campaign and the 985 first preference votes he got.
“I have three grandchildren and I’m glad I will be able to tell them in the future that I made an attempt to change the system, even though I wasn’t successful,” he told The Echo.
Mr O’Leary estimates that he spent approximately €7,500-€8,000 of his own money on his election campaign.
“That was money which I had saved to change my 14-year-old Yaris,” he said.
But despite the financial cost, Mr O’Leary has no regrets.
“If the financials had permitted me, I would have ran in more constituencies,” he added.
The Kerry Pike local ran in all five Cork constituencies, as well as five Dublin constituencies and in his native Kerry. His campaign trail saw him take an unusual approach — sleeping on the streets to highlight the issue of rampant homelessness and canvassing from a hospital trolley to highlight the broken healthcare system.
Mr O’Leary also offered up his camper van to the homeless every night of his campaign.
“I didn’t go to any doors and I only printed two election posters which I attached to the hospital trolley,” said the father of six, who felt that his unique canvassing highlighted the key national issues in a more powerful way.
In immersing himself in the issue of homelessness Mr O’Leary said he was disappointed at the apathetic attitude people showed towards him when he was sleeping rough.
“Most people just walked past,” he said. “What I will say however is that the people that did stop would make a big effort and stay and chat for a while.
“One day I woke up and there was some change and food next to me.”
Mr O’Leary said that he is making every effort to help the homeless, despite the fact that he did not get a seat in Dáil Eireann. “I’ve been putting away money every week to help a homeless individual get accommodation,” said the CIT lab technician.
Mr O’Leary, who is also the owner of a bicycle tours company, said he would like to see more business people in the political sphere.
“We need more business people in politics,” he said.”