Give me the chance to build a new alternative, says O Tuathail

After many years abroad it is great to be home and raising my family in Galway. I have always been driven to maximise my impact on society but I never thought I would ever be asking my neighbours for votes. In my career, I’ve worked on major health reform in the English NHS. I’ve built infrastructure all over the world. More recently, I moved home and set up my own software business here in Galway.

When Ireland went through the bank guarantee and bailout I knew I had to do something. A former colleague at McKinsey - Stephen Donnelly – was thinking of running so I helped to run his campaign. Despite starting with no base, no money and no team, we managed to get him elected in just five weeks of campaigning and I am so proud of the impact he has had in Dáil Éireann.

This year, Stephen and I joined with Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy to form the Social Democrats to - a new party that stands for honest politics, a fair society and a strong economy.

We have put forward big ambitious ideas during this campaign - setting up an Irish NHS, ending child poverty, backing Irish business, supporting the most marginalised, unlocking affordable housing, and managing our national finances responsibly.

We are trying to be honest with people who are used to auction politics. Instead of putting money back into people’s pockets through tax cuts, we want to save families money through better public services - healthcare, childcare, education, housing and transport.

We are humbled and honoured by the reaction to our campaign in Galway. I have been joined by over one hundred volunteers here who have poured every single spare hour they have into knocking on doors, travelling the breadth of a huge constituency, and talking to friends and family. Thanks to the incredible effort of so many, the pundits and polls are now predicting that I can win a seat in Galway West this week.

If I have the great honour of representing you in Dáil Éireann, I would propose to focus on three personal priorities – healthcare, housing and building a new party that can one day lead a government.

On healthcare, I want to take a lead in building an Irish NHS we can be proud of. Both of my parents work in the health service and morale is at an all-time low. The single biggest thing we need to do is invest in primary care – more GP clinics, mental health professionals, public health nurses and primary care centres. This is better for people’s health, it’s more convenient for people and, incredibly, it’s also better for the taxpayer. For every euro we invest in primary care, we will save six euros and a lot of pressure in Galway hospitals. We can have a better health service without it being a black hole for the state finances.

We have a housing and homelessness crisis in Galway that is nothing short of an emergency. We must build new homes in Galway City – ideally building our city up and not out so that we do not create further challenges for traffic, public transport and infrastructure. While we wait on new housing stock to come online, I would propose solutions to make the best use of our existing housing. These include getting empty houses from both private and government ownership occupied, providing incentives for empty nesters to downsize, and improving emergency accommodation services.

I believe that Ireland will only see major political reform when we have a big new party capable of leading government. The Social Democrats can be that party and I will use my campaigning experience to build a nationwide organisation that can run enough candidates to lead a government in future elections. With our policy platform, the integrity of our leaders Stephen, Róisín and Catherine, and an organisation that can compete with the big parties across the country, nothing is impossible.

This election is going to be very close, and a handful of number 1 votes could be the difference between winning and losing a seat in Galway. If you like what we are saying, and you would like to see us have a chance to build a new alternative, I would appreciate your number 1 vote on Friday.

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