LABOUR’S newly-elected leader – and only the second female to lead the party – Ivana Bacik TD has fond memories of her childhood in West Cork where she lived until her family moved to Cork city.
Ivana – who replaced Alan Kelly as leader and won the leadership of the party uncontested – said she is relishing the exciting challenge ahead.
‘I’m really delighted and honoured to have the trust of the members placed in me and to become the 14th leader and only second female leader of the party and it’s still hard to believe but I definitely feel it’s exciting times ahead,’ said Ivana.
Born in London, Ivana and her family moved to Crookstown when she was six-years-old as her dad Henry – a former graduate of UCC who had completed a PHd in Astronomy – took up a lecturing job in Physics at what was then called the Cork RTC.
‘He grew up in Waterford after my grandfather, Charles Bacik relocated here from the Czechoslovakia in 1946, fearing that a communist takeover in his country would be very difficult. He was actually in the Czech resistance during World War II and was in a Nazi prison for a lot of the war.’
Charles incidentally founded Waterford Crystal the following year and the family were well known in the city.
Ivana said she fondly remembers her time at nearby Cloughduv National School.
‘We had a wonderful head teacher, Padraig Kierse, who was a great teacher and passionate about education and he encouraged us. While it was a change from city life in London, I was small and able to adapt.’
When Ivana was 11, her family moved to the Sunday’s Well area of Cork city, and she secured a scholarship to go to Alexandra College in Dublin. She initially boarded there until the family moved to Dublin where she became a day student at the school. She went on to study law at Trinity College, followed by the London School of Economics studying for a masters in labour law and social theory.
Her political career began when she was first elected to Seanad Éireann in 2007 and she won her first Dáil seat last July, following the by-election in Dublin Bay South, after the resignation of Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy.
‘Pre-Covid times we would go back to Cork a lot and we holidayed in Schull and Skibbereen, while also visiting East Cork. But I am looking forward to coming down and meeting Labour Party members across the county in the coming months.
‘My main aim now is grow the party obviously, but more importantly to grow support for the Labour message and values and I think that voice is missing now. People want that change and we’re offering a constructive voice for change,’ she added.
The last successful Labour candidate to successfully run for the Dáil in the Cork South West constituency was Michael McCarthy and Ivana said the party is keen to field as many candidates as they can across the country and win seats in both Cork South West and Cork North West.