Fergus McAllister was selected by the Mayo Green Party to run as a candidate for the Westport Town Council election this June. McAllister says that he will concentrate his immediate attention on supporting local businesses so that closures can be staved off and jobs can be protected.
A business account manager with a telecommunications company, he said that he understands the tight margins which can make the difference in surviving in business.
The 43-year-old is chair of the Mayo Green Party and member of the party’s IT policy group. He was involved with members of Westport’s business, tourism, and environmental communities in opposing plans for gold mining behind Croagh Patrick last year. Licensing for that proposal was subsequently turned down.
“Businesses must be invested in and supported so that jobs in Westport are protected for the long term,” McAllister said. “I will work for fairer rents to halt the closure of shops and restaurants so essential to a vibrant tourism town. I will work for better infrastructure so that locating in the west is not a disadvantage in itself. I also want to ensure a strong business incubation enterprise for people who want to develop new sustainable and green ventures – either as new initiatives or as part of existing businesses.”
McAllister moved to Westport nearly a decade ago and has been active in many community and sporting projects. He was a committee member and fundraiser for the successful 2008 Westport Arts Festival and wants to see the event grow in strength. He is a coach for the Westport Bulls “mini series” and the primary schools soccer league. He has also been an active member of the parents’ committee of Gaelscoil na Cruaiche.
McAllister believes that Westport can be one of Ireland’s first “Transition Towns” and a showcase for carbon neutral living. A Transition Town is one which works together to reduce its energy usage, energy bills, and carbon emissions. As a town councillor he said that he will ensure that the “Transition Town” initiative, submitted last year to the council, is incorporated into the new town development plan.
“Cutting back on energy doesn’t mean cutting back on quality of life,” he said. “What it does mean is that people will spend less on energy bills and will have less impact on the environment. Importantly, it means that Westport will be ready to meet the challenges of community and business without over reliance on rapidly depleting resources.”
A Castlebar native, McAllister has a long association with Westport. His mother, Peggy, worked as the pharmacist in O’Donnell’s on Bridge Street for 10 years. His family is one of the founding members of the Mayo Sailing Club. He is married to Edel Hackett and lives in Knockranny with his young family.