The Labour Party Constituency Executive has decided at a meeting last evening to recommend that Wicklow Town based Cllr Paul O’Brien should replace the veteran Trade Unionist Jack O’Connor as their candidate for the next General Election. The decision was made on the proposal of Jack O’Connor himself.
Cllr O’Brien stated
“Our Executive Committee yesterday evening decided to endorse Jack’s proposal to recommend that I would replace him as our party’s candidate for Wicklow in the next General Election. Therefore, I will be seeking the nomination at a selection convention.
While this opportunity is coming a lot sooner than I had expected, I could also not let it pass me by. I will continue to work as hard as I can as a Councillor for all the people in the Constituency. However, I firmly believe that Wicklow Town, the surrounding area’s and indeed the South East of our county have suffered from the absence of a locally based TD since Liam Kavanagh’s time in the Dail. On saying that if I am elected, I intend to represent the entire County to the best of my ability.
My colleague Cllr Anne Ferris has decided not to run this time and I greatly appreciate her support and indeed that of our other former TD and Minister Liz McManus at last evenings meeting”.
“Jack O Connor made it clear from the very outset of his involvement here in Wicklow, both at Constituency Council meetings and in various media interviews etc, that he would only accept the nomination if no one from the local Labour Party organisation was prepared to contest.
At that time we were severely demoralised having lost all our public representatives in the elections of 2014 and 2016. Since then we have been rebuilding and last May we took an important step when we returned two County Councillors for the first time in a decade. Moreover, Ian McGahon came in a close 5th in the Bray East four seater and Anne Waitera Burke almost doubled our vote in Greystones, even though we only decided to contest that area three weeks before the election. Across the major population areas of Bray and Wicklow we polled more than 9% of the first preference vote, – double our performance in 2014 and 2016. Indeed, Labour was the only party which won two additional seats in Wicklow in the recent local elections and we came from a position of having no representation at all.
Jack played an important role in the progress we have made, but he is strongly of the view that as we now have two elected Councillors, we should offer the people a candidate who is from the County and who they have already endorsed at the ballot box.
I am also delighted that he has agreed to stay involved in the Constituency as I think he still has a role to play. He intends to run for the voluntary position of County Organiser for the party at the upcoming AGM and I hope he will be elected unanimously.”
Commenting on the decision Jack O Connor said,
“While we have made some progress in rebuilding The Labour Party in Co Wicklow, we know we still have a distance to go. Winning two seats on the Council and coming so close to a third was an important step. Now that we have local Councillors elected again, it is important to take the next step by offering the people a local person who they have already endorsed at the ballot box, as a candidate for the General Election.
Crucial issues around the provision of, decent sustainable well paying secure jobs, housing, childcare and eldercare as well as ending commuter misery will not be addressed by the, ‘Leave it to the Market’ approach of the two dominant Conservative Parties, which now operate a very unhealthy virtual comfortable cabal. They actually enjoy a huge seat bonus here in Wickow with 80% of the Dail seats on less than 50% of the first preference vote. We have no time to loose.
Paul has demonstrated enormous commitment and strength of character both in his personal life and in the political and community area. Having suffered defeat in 2014 he stuck with the idea of building a real Labour Party in Wicklow, despite disagreeing with many of the decisions of the last Government. Like myself he considers the endless division among those on the Left as completely counter productive. He came back to win a seat on the Council comfortably last May. He is an experienced and a skilled representative, serving among other things as the national President of the Irish Soccer Referees Society and is a strong Community person. He will represent the people of Co Wicklow excellently in Dail Eireann, if they choose to elect him”
Both Cllr O’Brien and Jack O’Connor confirmed that the plan now is to hold a selection convention as soon as possible. To this end they’ll be working closely with the National Executive of the Party but they both reiterated that the selection of a candidate is ultimately entirely a matter for the membership here in Wicklow.