People’s Candidate in Cork City South Central Ward
Brian Houlihan is 28 years old and originally from Tipperary but living in Cork the past number of years. He is currently in 2nd year studying Politics and History at UCC, where he also hosts a political and current affairs show on UCC 98.3FM each Thursday from 5pm.
Brian has been active in the community and involved with various protest and reform groups since moving to Cork.
It is since moving to Cork that much of my politicisation has taken place, not only through my studies but also from attending, and organising protests and meetings, on various issues.
I first decided to stand as a candidate over two years ago, as like many I feel let down by the political system and political culture that exists. Like many people there have been times I have felt apathetic towards politics, however I have come to the conclusion that such apathy would only suit the status quo, and that it is by becoming actively engaged we can at least attempt to bring about reform.
From day one I knew I would stand as an independent as I feel the party system with its stringent whip system, its often disinterest in differing views, and at times the sense of loyalty to the organisation over and above the people, among other things, means I could never join any existing party.
Political reform is one issue I feel strongly about and I believe that local and national government needs to be overhauled as over the last few years we have seen a more centralisation of power. I also feel we need to end the practice where many TD’s see themselves as councillors and many councillors see themselves as TDs. Local issues should be for local government and national issues for national government.
There are many issues that I and others are concerned about and feel that the council needs to address. Many believe there is a need for a creative rates system for businesses, to help start-ups and to assist struggling businesses. Many believe there needs to be measures to protect local economy. There is also a need to address the shortage of social housing; with the numbers seeking housing (8,000) close to the figure of social housing already occupied (8,690. There are concerns over flooding, which have become regular features in recent years. Many also feel there is a need to assist charities in doing their work, perhaps by waiver or rate deductions. While it is also believed that there is also the need for more public amenities and green spaces. These are just some of the concerns held by myself and others in the city and ones future councils will need to address.
There are also a number of big developments coming down the line such as the Event centre, a new Prison, and the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh. When it comes to these and other developments we must ensure these and other developments give the most benefit to the city, and that the fears and concerns of locals are heard and taken into serious consideration.
Finally, the reason I signed THE PEOPLE’S CONTRACT is that I agree with its principles and I feel it is with such a proposal, perhaps in tandem with others, we can tackle people’s frustration with politics by giving them more control over the city. I also feel it is also necessary to expand this concept of people asserting control to national politics.
We need to change not only the system and the culture of politics. By using THE PEOPLE’S CONTRACT to open up council and give the people more say, and by creating a culture where things are done by consensus and in the open, perhaps we can begin the process.