3 June 2004 Edition

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Making breakthroughs in the East

Wexford candidate Daithí Forde

Wexford candidate Daithí Forde

Sinn Féin can expect to do very well in the local elections in John Dwyer's East EU constituency, according to party representatives throughout the eleven counties. The party is standing 69 candidates for 81 seats and opinion polls are showing them at high percentages.

Director of Elections for the Leinster Sinn Féin Cúige area, Daithí Forde, who is also running in Wexford Borough Council, told An Phoblacht this week that the party is expecting breakthroughs in several counties.

"We expect to do very well in Carlow, Kilkenny, Meath, Westmeath, Longford and Louth," he said. "We've no councillors in Wicklow at the moment, but we're running six candidates for ten seats, and we're confident we'll get councillors there. In Wexford, we're hoping to double our number. Brian Stanley has a good chance in Laois, we haven't had a councillor there since the '50s. Then in Kildare we've a new candidate, Cristín McCauley, running alongside Paddy Wright. In general we expect to do very well; in fact the returns are almost frighteningly good."

According to Forde, the main issue on the doorsteps is health.

"That is a real issue in the Southeast, particularly the need for a radiotherapy unit. People who are terminally ill are being forced to travel 300-mile round trips for treatment, sometimes daily."

Leinster has not escaped the housing crisis, either.

"Many of the counties are becoming satellite towns for Dublin, and houses are springing up everywhere, but they are expensive and there are no plans going in to actually developing much-needed amenities for areas," Forde said. "There are so many problems in this region, and they've led to a really tangible anti-government feeling."

Director of Canvass Daithí McEvoy agreed with this and added that there is a big issue around getting children into primary schools.

"A lot of Dublin families have moved down to Kildare, Laois and Offaly, and the schools are already strained due to lack of funding and investment," McEvoy told us.

Sinn Féin, he says, expects to return almost double the number of councillors in this election, and will be in a better position to campaign on the issues affecting the region.

"We've been building slowly throughout this constituency and we are in a really strong position to take seats now. In the last locals we had hardly anybody running in many of the counties — this time round we have great candidates in every county."

An Phoblacht
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