Anna Marie Flynn
THE Fianna Fail party faithful descended on Ballina in their hundreds to launch the Dara Calleary election campaign on Friday night last.
RTÉ Dragon’s Den star, Sean Gallagher, officially launched the campaign at a function in the Downhill House Hotel, describing Ballina’s outgoing Minister of State as ‘a fabulous, outstanding confident debater and communicator at all levels’.
Mr Gallagher showered praise on the Ballina man, but also acknowledged that ‘Fianna Fail machine is sluggish’ adding that the current political system needs to be overhauled if the country is to emerge from economic recession.
“I believe that Dara is the face of change in the political environment. We have seen that the political environment has not worked for the past number of years but politics is changing.
What we have had up to now to get us here, will not work to get us to there in the future. But it can change, and with people like Dara it will happen and it will work again,” he said.
Referring to the economic crisis, Mr Gallagher added that while the political system has focused on the macro economics concerning such issues as gross domestic products in the recent past, it now ‘needs to turn its attention to the micro politics, because the majority of people live their lives in the micro economics of funding education, paying their mortgage and budgeting for their existence’.
Addressing the Fianna Fail organisation, Minister Calleary said his campaign to ‘put Mayo back on the map’ in 2007 had seen over €100 million worth of investment, countless projects delivered and national recognition for Mayo.
“I hope I have put this county back on the map in some way and everything I achieve, and have achieved in the past, has been on your behalf, as you placed your confidence in me when you selected me as your candidate,” he said.
Referring to his term in the 30th Dail, Minister Calleary said his high point was the opening of the joint-special educational campus at St Nicholas’ and St Dymphna’s in Ballina. “I will never achieve anything in politics that will match the sense of achievement in having delivered that,” he said.
He noted that his ‘biggest disappointment’ was the refusal of planning for the N26 by An Bord Pleanala.
Taking aim at the planning appeals body, he referred to it as ‘an undemocratic, unaccountable organisation which is not elected’, but noted he had not given up hope on the N26 with €2 million currently being spent on the project to progress it.
The party faithful was also urged to support Fianna Fail’s Castlebar runner, 24-year-old Lisa Chambers.
A host of other guests also addressed the function including Chair of Tir Amhaldaigh Comhairle Cheantair, Gerry McGuinness, Chair of Mayo Dail Cheantair, Sean Staunton, outgoing Senator, John Carty and former Senator and TD, Jim Glennon.