If selected at convention this Sunday, Sinead Gaughan will be the first woman to represent the Fine Gael party for the Belmullet electoral area in the Local Elections. “I wish my colleagues all the best,” Sinead has said this week, “but it is a landmark occasion for me personally. Perhaps goodwill will be on my side considering the unique circumstance of my nomination, we can only wait and see.”
The Belmullet electoral area spans nearly two thirds of coastline of county Mayo: Ballycastle, Belderrig, Glenamoy, Rossport, Carratigue, Pollathomas, Inver, Barnatra, Belmullet, the Mullet Peninsula, Bunahowan, Geesala, Doohoma, Bangor Erris, Ballycroy, Achill, Mulranny and Newport. “It’s a huge area, geographically challenging, but there is a definite sense of knowingness and connection between the people. Emigration has added greatly to this collective identity.”
A young businesswoman in Belmullet, Sinead has more than 20 years’ experience in the gift retail sector. As a founding director of the Erris Chamber of Commerce, she actively promotes a networking approach to development. “If we are undiscovered touristically by the rest of the county and country, we must see that as our own challenge. It is encouraging to see agencies like Bord Fáilte changing their remits and being more inclusive. The ‘Erris Beo’ marketing initiative in 2008 was a shining example of how immediately, generously, and professionally local businesses responded to the opportunity of promoting the region.”
Since 2004, Sinead has been a board member of Erris Leader and LDP and was chosen to be a community representative on the Mayo County Development Board. “Those years of attending meetings have been invaluable to me. I gained a lot of insight into what’s being delivered locally as well as nationally. As we face cutbacks and leaner times, I feel confident in knowing what was available and valid in advocating absolutely no losses in services, funding and development for this electoral area. I’ll fight for that and be able to hold my own ground knowledgeably.
“There’s a lot of work done in recent times. However, I would personally see to the delivery of a sewage scheme for Belmullet town as priority. A clean safe environment in which to grow our population is an absolute necessity for the future. Secondly, the upgrading, maintenance and increased classification of primary roads is vital for access to services and for the economy.”
Sinead has just completed a diploma in Irish from NUIG. “I really appreciated being able to access this accredited course locally. It’s such a positive move forward to see outreach education like FETAC and VEC courses being offered and also having such a high take up.”
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and Sinead is no exception. Her late father Seamus Gaughan was an avid supporter and canvasser of the Fine Gael party locally. “I grew up steeped in politics, activism, and forward thought. His going to meetings was a normal function which I came to emulate. It wasn’t empty ideas, there were very big results from community activity. I remember being drafted in to use my creative talent for an initial little poster campaign when I was 14. That was Carne Golf Course as we and the world know it today.”
If she does get selected by convention and the voters elect Sinead in June, she would be one of the youngest members of the county council. “I know that by being 10 or even 20 years younger, I would bring a different perspective to proceedings and certainly a more demographically representational balance.”