IT’S all go for Pa Daly, the solicitor from Oakpark, who is bidding to win a seat on Kerry County Council at the first time of asking.
The Derrylea native is contesting his first election in just over a week’s time and between running a law practice, canvassing the town and finding time for his wife Mary and four young children, he has his hands full.
But sitting down with him at his Rock Street office, you get the sense he is looking forward to the contest and relishes the chance to represent Sinn Fein in the County Council.
Educated at CBS and a graduate of law from UCD, Pa returned home from Dublin in 2003 after working for a law firm in Dublin for a number of years. He then set up his own business in Rock Street.
“We lived above the practice for a few years but when child number three came along, we had to move for more space,” said Pa.
The interest in politics came from a varied family history.
“My mother’s brother, Sean Farren, was on the Northern Executive for the SDLP. My cousin, Conor Fitzgerald was on the Town Council for the Green Party for a while and my great-granduncle Paddy Paul Fitzgerald was a Fianna Fail man, so there was different elements there in my background. But I was always interested from an early age in current affairs.”
It was the economic collapse that drew him to the politics of Sinn Fein.
“I wouldn’t have described myself as party political at all until after the bank bailouts of a few years ago. I felt that, practically, a coup had taken place in this country. Then I saw the cuts that came in since then, as a result of the payback to the banks, and I found that my views and the views of the Sinn Fein party were the same really,” said Pa.
He also laments, what he call the “carve-up that has gone on between the parties of the right and big business over the past number of years”.
“The parties of the left have been warning about this privatisation for years. Big business representatives like IBEC were in favour of this policy and we can what’s happening now from water to the National Lottery – which was making hundreds of millions every year for charities and sports organisations and now the Government have sold it off. I also disagreed with a two-tier education and health system. I met an retired couple from Oakpark recently who told me they’re paying €5,000 a year to the VHI for health insurance, after working their whole lives. Then I met a friend of mine who works in a hospital in Liverpool who says only about 2% of British people – the extremely wealthy – have private health insurance because the system is so good over there.”
Pa was co-opted on to the Town Council two years ago when Toireasa Ferris wanted to concentrate her efforts on Kerry County Council, so he agreed to take her place.
Now he is out on the canvass looking for votes where he has found a range of issues cropping up on the doorstep.
“I started canvassing in January. Being a first-time candidate I needed to get out there early to let people know I’m there and the reaction I’m getting is fine. Most people are polite – a lot of people don’t have interest in any party or politician – but many want to engage on some issue or another. Very local issues come up like the water issue out in Fenit and the dangers of the road in Curraheen/Tonevane, but other than that it’s national issues that come up about all the cuts that have been imposed.”
If he’s elected to the Council, Pa intends to fight to reduce property and water charges in order to put money back in people’s pockets.
“I was in the town centre on Friday at 4.30pm and, while I know the weather was poor, there was only a few people on the main street. We must get money back to the people to spend. The lack of investment and interest in town from the IDA must change, nothing is coming in from central government,” he said.
“We have a large public sector workforce in Tralee. We need to try to ringfence those jobs. Many lost their jobs in Kerry County Council the hospital and other places, those jobs have been eaten into.”
Away from the office and the council, Pa spends as much time with his wife and four children as possible, as well as keeping active.
“I play a bit of 5 a side soccer and I ‘manage’ the Tralee Dynamos B team. I like to go the Irish soccer internationals when I can,” said the boyhood Liverpool fan.
“I used to be an avid fan of Liverpool years ago but that died off a little over the years. I still keep an eye out for results, but I wouldn’t be depressedif they lost. If what happened two weeks ago [Liverpool lost to Chelsea which badly dented their title hopes] happened when I was 14 I probably would have locked myself in my room for a month,” he joked.
Pa was also involved in the Kerry Film Festival screenings in The Square last year of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ and ‘The Italian Job’ and also helped organise the big screen event in the same location for the Euro 2012 games.
“If Kerry got to the All-Ireland again it would be great to do something similar,” he said.
Let’s hope our footballers keep him this busy come September.