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Ireland South

Richard Cahill: 'Volunteer and community groups held this country together during austerity'

This Ireland South candidate in the European elections is hoping to reinforce at EU level the importance of volunteer work.

MANY EUROPEAN ELECTION candidates would be criticised for focusing on one area of policy too much.

However, this candidate believes that by “ensuring the voice of the volunteer on the ground is heard”, it can have wide-ranging effects.

Richard Cahill is an independent candidate in Ireland South, and has been heavily involved in volunteer and community groups at a national level, having entered this line of work after a spinal injury and nerve damage meant he could no longer work as an electrician.

He currently works with groups at regional level such as the Clare Community Forum, of which he is vice-chair.

Cahill believes that there needs to be increased support for volunteer and community projects – something that the EU would be very receptive of.

“Civil society is what Europe is all about,” he told

Volunteer and community groups held this country together during austerity.

He stressed that some people might not realise the effect volunteering has on the country, running a range of vital services from drug rehab clinics to nursing homes – “it’s delivering essential services”.

Cahill said the the government has a “lack of appreciation for community and voluntary work”, criticising the “almost hidden” cut to Ireland’s contribution to the LEADER Fund, which aims to promote sustainable rural communities.

Richard Cahill on JobBridge…

He believes this fund could better be used as an alternative to the various job initiatives the government has launched.

One of the ways you can get people out there and working is by supporting community projects, it can build a pride of place, build work ethic, allowing them to gain respect and not in a throwaway fashion.

“You can’t except community organisations to create this kind of atmosphere without any support.”

On posters…

Cahill is also running a no-poster campaign, noting that telephone poles covered in the faces of candidates seem to “annoy people”. Business cards are being handed out by volunteers, and he has invested in four magnetic stickers for vehicles.

I’ve heard figures such as high as €400,000 being spent on these campaigns. I’m sickened by that. I’d give it to something like an older person care project and say, ‘Here, use that this to build your day centre’ or whatever it is they need.

“If they had a true connection they wouldn’t dare waste this kind of money.”

On red tape…

We need a streamlining of bureaucracy around funding. The level of bureaucracy that we have encountered when applying for funds for volunteer work has really been surprising. We need to sit back and look at how much is EU based and how much is Irish based, we’re wasting too much time.

The European politics facts and figures…

As we build up to the 23 May polling day,‘s been giving each European Election candidate we interview a quick pop quiz on the institutions.

How many MEPs do you need to form a political grouping?
25. [Correct]

What year did Ireland officially join?
1973? [Correct.]

Last country to join EU?
I haven’t a clue, I think it was Croatia. [Correct.]

Last country to join Eurozone?
I’m going to take gamble and say Greece? [Incorrect, it was Latvia.]

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