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Holly ready ‘to do West Cork proud’

March 7th, 2023 10:01 AM

By Emma Connolly

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SKIBBEREEN woman Holly Cairns has made history by becoming the first Cork South West TD to lead a political party, after taking the reins of the Social Democrats this week.

Holly, from Turk Head in Roaring Water Bay, was named the leader after the co-founders Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy stepped down, and there were no other contenders.

Admitting it had been a difficult decision, Deputy Cairns said she felt the moment was right to go for the leadership. 

‘In the same way that I never saw myself as a county councillor or a TD, I didn’t see myself as a party leader. But I  think the tide is turning in Irish politics. It’s a really exciting time. We’ve always had the same tired parties representing us and the reason I got into this in the first place is because I felt unrepresented and there’s so many people out there who feel like me. I can feel the opportunity and the momentum is there to get the positive change in Ireland we desperately need and deserve.’

She described herself as ‘unashamedly ambitious’ about how much the party can grow, and said she’d stand for change, and a fairer Ireland. 

‘I’m really determined and I see a future for us,’ said Holly.

But with local elections in 2024, and the General Election in 2025 or earlier, she said the challenge was considerable and she’s seeking candidates in Cork South West, and encouraging them to come forward. 

‘It’s a big job. We need to build quickly, we need to find the people and to reach them, and that’s my job.’

Among her priorities is housing.

‘My generation is the first that are worse off than my parents. My mum would love if her daughter didn’t live on the other side of the world. Her grandson has just been born in New Zealand. This affects every generation. People want to have their children and grandchildren nearby. They want West Cork to be a place where people can stay, move to or come home to. Housing is having a profound impact on our ability to do that.’

Holly made history this week because, while General Michael Collins led the pro-Treaty faction after Sinn Féin split, he never became party leader.

She said a lot of critics like to make out that she’s not engaged in her community and is a national politician only.

‘I take my job extremely seriously and everyone in this role must. But we must stop and recognise that if we spend all our time doing the job of a county councillor, we’re not effecting national policy.’

She highlighted that she’s the only rural TD in a leadership role, and is glad to be a rural voice in Leinster House. 

‘I hope and I plan to do West Cork proud in that sense. I’m going to give this my absolute all.’

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