AT the age of 25, farmer and carer, Vanessa O’Sullivan, is one of the youngest candidates standing for election in the Skibbereen-Clonakilty electoral area and she feels she has something new to offer.
The Dubliner, and People Before Profit candidate, is a resident of Cape Clear island where she relocated in 2013 to ‘gain a new perspective on life.’
Vanessa was raped in 2012, became pregnant as a result, and had an abortion in November of that year, before relocating to Cape Clear in January 2013.
‘Now,’ she said, ‘I love life. I have my freedom, my goats, my friends. I have a future. I’ve built my confidence back up and I’m ready to bring something new to Cork County Council.’
Vanessa said she decided to stand because: ‘I am sick and tired of people thinking that politics is something they cannot understand.’
Having read English and Sociology in Maynooth, Vanessa said she is passionate about creating sustainable futures.
It informed her decision to up sticks and move to Cape Clear island, where she now works as a farmer alongside Ed Harper, a blind goat herder and social activist.
Ed stood for election in 2014 but was unsuccessful.
Now, Vanessa hopes that she – as one of the youngest women in the race – will succeed and become the first female islander to serve on the local authority.
‘I aim to demystify politics,’ she said, ‘but I also want to raise sustainable policies that I feel West Cork has been lacking in recent years.
‘Some of the biggest things that I have been involved with in West Cork is the repeal the eighth campaign, and the protection of the environment.
‘In Bantry, I am part of the fight against the mechanical harvesting of kelp, and, in Skibbereen, I am opposed to the proposal to build a thermoplastic manufacturing plant at Poundlick. But, on the upside, I am happy to promote Cape Clear Island as part of a major EU Clean Energy Project.’
Vanessa believes West Cork needs ‘an integrated public transport system – one that works with the West Cork Rural Transport group and links all of the regions towns and villages.
‘Another major issue is housing because there is a desperate shortage of social and affordable housing in West Cork and an over-reliance on the private sector, and the Housing Assistance Programme, to solve the homelessness and housing crisis.’