INDEPENDENT LOCAL ELECTION candidate Emmett O’Brien chose a novel way to launch his campaign – by marching through the streets of Limerick while supporters carried sticks topped with sods of burning turf.
Some 250 people attended the rally in Pallaskenry on Saturday night. O’Brien told TheJournal.ie that the burning turf “signified that there is still life and hope in the community”.
The barrister is running on a non-party platform after failing to be chosen as a Fianna Fáil candidate.
He was widely expected to appear on the party’s ticket in the Adare-Rathkeale constituency, but lost out to sitting councillor Kevin Sheahan in December. The two were pitted against each other in a vote after party headquarters pre-selected three candidates.
O’Brien said that Fianna Fáil’s behaviour was “fundamentally wrong” but added he had “moved on” from the “unfortunate episode”.
“I’ve always been independent in mind … I always found party politics, in broad terms, a bit restrictive,” O’Brien stated.
YouTube: Trish O’Dowd
Video of Saturday night’s march. Note: poor quality.
He said he made the decision to run after receiving “cross-party support” from members of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour.
“People are very disaffected with party politics … People are tired of broken promises … People are very tired of a form of musical chairs every other year,” he noted.
O’Brien, who at 34 is the youngest candidate running in the area, said that the council needed “a mixture of old and young” members. He added that it was “worrying” that many of the young people he knows view politics as “pointless”.
If elected, O’Brien said he would campaign against further closures of Post Offices and Garda stations in the area, having previously been involved in a successful campaign to retain a local Garda station.
In a bid to stimulate the local economy, he said that a reduction in commercial rates for businesses could help create employment.
‘Burning Sods of Turf’
Saturday’s march culminated at a local pub, Clancy’s Bar, where O’Brien made an impassioned plea for volunteers to join his campaign.
He told supporters: “In 2011 we were promised democratic revolution, a change. What we got was more of the same: more austerity, water charges, local property tax.”
O’Brien added that it would be a “tough campaign” but said he wanted “to be back here celebrating with double amounts of burning sods of turf and with double the crowd of the 24 of May”.