SINN Féin’s Thomas Gould is a contender for Billy Kelleher’s seat in the Dáil, according to Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who was in Cork today to launch Mr Gould’s by-election campaign.
Ms McDonald said the city councillor is an excellent candidate, with a proven record of standing up for his community.
“He is very passionate and evidence of that can be seen in his service as a councillor and that would follow over into the Dáil,” said Ms McDonald.
The by-election is taking place in Cork North Central to fill the Dáil seat left vacant by Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher who was elected to the European Parliament in May.
Speaking to The Echo, Mr Gould said Sinn Féin is a strong party in Cork North Central. “It is a Fianna Fáil seat we are chasing and the simple message is the northside has been abandoned by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil,” he said. “They have done nothing for the northside.
“It is dilapidated, a very historic area in Cork, and no one fighting for it.”
Mr Gould said the northern relief road is a vital piece of infrastructure that needs to be delivered for the city, not just for the northside.
“There were two crashes on the South Link road last week and it brought the city to a standstill. The northern relief road would allow cars to go in a different direction.
“It is unbelievable that FF/ FG TDS are reelected, they do nothing for the Northside. Dara Murphy is like a man kidnapped by Isis we see so little of him.”
Mr Gould said that the by-election is a straightforward race between Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, and Fine Gael and based on local election figures he was confident he would be ahead of the rest which includes Labour, Social Democrats, Solidarity, and the Workers’ Party.
“The public has the option of supporting FF/FG or backing a left-wing candidate,” said Mr Gould.
Ms McDonald said the election has broader implications as the confidence and supply politics is being used to blunt the Sinn Féin voice.
Discussing recent comments by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in relation to immigration, Ms McDonald said: “I think we need to be very careful on how we discuss issues of immigration and new people coming to our shores. I think we need to be very mindful of the fact, not least because of the housing crisis, that communities and families, in some cases individuals, are quite fragile and in a place of real stress.”
Ms McDonald said that she thought instead of commenting on immigration, Mr Varadkar’s time would be better spent addressing the housing crisis and building homes for people who need them.
“Leo Varadkar, whatever he has to say about immigration numbers and those seeking international protection, if he’s concerned at all about any of us or all of us, what he needs to do is get cracking, change direction, and adopt the policies that will actually produce decent accommodation, affordable rents, and homes that people can realistically purchase that are genuinely affordable and get social housing or council housing back up and running again,” she said.