Progression of new party in Athlone continues

The re-branding of the anti-household charge group in Athlone progressed this week (January 29 ) as they set February 7 as the date for the naming of the party and the release of its draft manifesto.

It is also the date when two pillars of the modern Irish Left - Clare Daly TD and Luke Flanagan TD - are to be welcomed as guest speakers that evening in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel.

The protest group, which had prioritised a policy of direct action over the last year through the activities of Gordon Hudson, The Derries, and Peadar Doyle, Monksland, have now been joined by Sinn Fein evictee John McNamara, Walderstown, and are actively pursuing a more formal political identity.

The evening started with Gordon Hudson - famous for his confrontation in Golden Island with Taoiseach Enda Kenny last year - stepping down from the committee due to “work commitments and health issues”.

“I started this campaign in Athlone, and I’m not leaving it. You’ll probably not hear me as much, but I’ll still be there,” he told the meeting.

Under the chair of Peadar Doyle, the gathered dissenters agreed with the direction of the top table towards a more formal political engagement, but were unable to decide yet on a name for their new entity, nor an absolute direction.

It was mooted, and agreed, that both of these issues would keep until after the invited guests had spoken at the next meeting on February 7.

“We’re aiming for the county council, we can’t be too ambitious,” said Mr Doyle.

“Until we get people in the chamber we can’t effect change,” agreed acting PRO, John McNamara as the 13 attendees voted to form a new political party.

Ofko Holgkamp, a Dutchman retired to Roscommon, suggested the party support the continental list system of selecting political candidates which he believes “will do away with parish pump politics”.

Also, Ernie Draper of the Netcafe, Athlone wondered: “Why is it a dirty word to be self employed? We should support small businesses”.

He then agreed to become party secretary and set up its Facebook page to help them bypass traditional media, which had come in for criticism for seemingly ignoring some of their previous endeavours.

There was some disagreement when Peadar Doyle said: “We are all novices, and our biggest mistake over the last year was wasting time”.

“We put Athlone on the map in Golden Island,” declared Gordon Hudson.

Keeping a watching brief on his colleagues from the Left, but appearing in a personal capacity, was Labour mayor of Athlone, Cllr Jim Henson.

“Politics is born from anger and local development, and the more parties born, the better it is for democracy,” he said.

“I won’t support every one of your policies, but I will turn up,” said Cllr Henson as he took an early leave from the meeting.


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