With the Ballinrobe electoral area being swallowed up by the newly bloated Claremorris electoral area the seven sitting councillors in these two areas will be reduced by one, so it’s itchy feet time for the sitting councillors in south Mayo. Two term councillor Damien Ryan will be putting himself before the people for the third time this summer, and despite the apathy people may be feeling to his party in these current times he’s looking forward to getting out there and meeting the people.
“I know this is going to be a tough election for Fianna Fáil this year, but to be honest I believe that this election is won or lost on the ground and what you have delivered to your area. Since I was elected 10 years ago I have worked towards getting a number of things done for my area and I will be judged at the end on that. And I think that you can measure my success on the things I have set out to do and what I have delivered for the people in my area. The party is one thing, but it’s all about how the people on the ground feel you have done for them in your remit and I’m happy to be judged on that by the people when it comes to the polls.”
Ryan first got involved in local politics when he was 26 and was one of the youngest members of the county council, and 10 years later he still has the urge to do the best for his area. “When I first ran, I felt that the Ballinrobe area wasn’t getting the best representation that it could and I set out to do my best for the area. A quick example is the by-pass of the town. The road hasn’t been delivered yet, but I put myself forward to go on the roads SPC in the council. The road wasn’t even on the national agenda at the time, but through my work and the work of the SPC, I was able to meet the NRA on a number of occasions and we have got money to go towards route selection and it’s firmly on the agenda. Which is a great thing to see happen in a short space of time since five years ago it wasn’t even on their radar.”
Infrastructure is a huge issue for Ryan and the need for an upgrade of the whole infrastructure system in south Mayo is key to seeing the area ride out the current economic climate. “Jobs are going to be a key factor in this election, keeping people working and attracting further development and industry to the area are huge issues. Everywhere is competing against each other for investment, and if you don’t have the infrastructure up to scratch then you are not going to get the industry to come.” Ryan was director of elections for Fianna Fáil in the last general election, a challenge he enjoyed but he’s looking forward to being a candidate again this time out. “The director of elections was a good experience, I got to see the lay of the land all over the county, but it will be good to get back out there again myself. The new area is a very large one to cover, but there will be enough candidates to cover the whole geographical south Mayo area. Losing the Ballinrobe constituency is a blow to the area, as the three of us worked very well together for the betterment of the whole area. I’ll be fighting to make sure that the Ballinrobe area sees the same level of investment and funding directed towards it as we had before as a single electoral area, because it can’t afford to be left behind and see other areas get ahead of it.”
Despite having 10 years behind him as councillor and high profile in his party, Ryan isn’t taking anything for granted. “You can never say never in this game, I’ve done a huge amount of work for the Ballinrobe area and people can put it up to me if they want. I’ve always listed out the priorities as I saw it and told the people what mine were. Anything I’ve listed as a priority I’ve done all in my power to get it done and I will continue to do the same, there’s no point putting yourself forward for the seat unless you are going to work hard for the people once you get it and I intend to do the same this time out.”