THE draw of West Cork and the longing to be close to family has seen former Dún Laoghaire/ Rathdown Labour councillor Deirdre Kingston and her family up sticks from Dublin and move back to her native Rosscarbery.
After 11 years living in the capital, Deirdre – who was a councillor for six years and is currently on maternity leave from her communication job – made the bold decision to move back to West Cork with her husband Anthony and their two children, Abe (2) and Jude (5 months).
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for the family as she officially resigned her seat at her last Council meeting on June 8th.
While she has retired from active politics, Deirdre still hopes to be involved on some level locally.
‘It’s really a sort of homecoming as this is where I grew up and it’s great to be back here where my dad Martin lives,’ Deirdre told The Southern Star.
‘I’ll still be a member of the Labour Party and there’s a great Labour tradition in West Cork, so I’ll definitely be involved in politics and local campaigning in some way.
I’m looking forward to seeing how I can contribute.’
As a mum of two and having served as a councillor, she feels politics can be very hard for new mothers, and new parents in general.
‘There is no maternity leave for TD’s or councillors which in itself tells us a lot about the historic attitude towards women in politics. It’s not a family friendly environment and we need to address that if we are going to attract more women and young families from outside Dublin into politics.’
She said that politics has changed fundamentally in this country and highlighted the fact that the two parties who traditionally command a majority – Fiánna Fáil and Fine Gael – are struggling to form a government together.
‘People just don’t want spin. They want people who are straight talkers and who walk the walk. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that we need to support and invest in our public services a lot more like healthcare, childcare and housing, something Labour has fought for since its foundation.’
Deirdre is also calling for the current system of Direct Provision to be abolished.
‘It’s an insult to the idea of a decent, inclusive society,’ she added.
Deirdre added: ‘I left the Council because of the decision to move to West Cork and that was taken because we wanted to raise our family here.
The quality of life is so much better and West Cork has always been in my heart having grown up here.’
The former UCC politics graduate moved to Dublin to do a Masters in Political Communications at DCU 11 years ago and she was first elected to a Council seat in 2014, and retained her seat again last year in the Local Elections.
‘I’ll miss my work as councillor for sure and having that engagement with people and community groups. I got a lot of satisfaction in helping people get results, no matter how small it may have seemed,’ added Deirdre.
Both herself and Anthony will of course miss other aspects of Dublin too.
‘We will definitely miss all of the friends we have made there, particularly the ones who were there for me when I became a new mum. I’ll also miss going out the door and being able to hop on my bike to get anywhere and I think West Cork needs to be much more ambitious when it comes to safer cycling.’
Their move to West Cork was made all the more easier because Anthony’s job with Screen Producers Ireland allows him to work from home.
‘We are looking forward to walking the Pier Road in Rosscarbery and sampling the amazing local food produce as well.
‘I also love the community spirit in West Cork and everyone looks out for each other and by and large it’s a really tolerant and inclusive place and neighbours are like extended family!’