Ó Laoghaire: FF and FG were determined to freeze Sinn Féin out

One year on from General Election 2020, TDs from Cork North and South Central reflect on the last 12 months with Sarah O'Dwyer
Ó Laoghaire: FF and FG were determined to freeze Sinn Féin out

Poll topper Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire (SF) is shouldered in celebration at the Cork South Central Count Centre at Nemo Rangers GAA Club in Cork last year. Picture Dan Linehan

The first person elected to the 33rd Dáil, Sinne Féin's Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire enjoyed a poll topping performance which saw him elected ahead of heavy-hitters such as Micheál Martin, Simon Coveney and Michael McGrath.

He secured 14,057 first preference votes in Cork Couth Central, reaching the quota easily on the first count, with a surplus of more than 2,500 votes.

Looking back, Mr Ó Laoghaire said a lot has changed since then: “Twelve months on we can see that the Irish people are still hungry for change, and an alternative to the old Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael duopoly. The old two party system of the past is no more, and I don’t believe it is returning.” 

He said the election was “tremondous” for Sinn Féin but they were frustrated not to get into Government.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were determined to freeze us out. I regret that, I think we had a great deal to offer.

“Frustrated as we were, and are, we believe that change has not been stopped, but delayed.” 

His party’s education spokesperson, Mr Ó Laoghaire has been working on “trying to get fairness for leaving cert students” and outlining “what we believe is necessary to make schools safer”.

He admits that Covid has had a huge impact on TDs work, but he believes they have adapted well. Working from home is something he describes as “challenging” with two small children - one being home-schooled.

“Probably the biggest impact will have been for us is the fact that we can’t be canvassing or out on the street for most of this time. We are a grassroots party we want to be on the ground, knocking on doors, hearing what people have to say, and campaigning.

“Likewise, one of the best bits of the job is going along to community events, and they are gone too. That is frustrating. However, I hope at some point in 2021 we hope we can get back on the ground and among the people, and campaigning.” 

Mr Ó Laoghaire said that despite being in opposition, Sinn Féin “will support policies from Government if they are doing the right and sensible thing” given the current circumstances surrounding Covid-19.

“However, where they are not we will hold them to account,” he added.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more