THREE years after the formation of the Social Democrats, three West Cork women have formed a constituency branch in Cork South West with a view to putting forward two candidates in next year’s local elections.
The Social Democrats had a branch in each of the Cork constituencies except Cork South West, but Pamela Weaver from Kealkil, Clare O’Reilly from Ballylickey and Holly Cairns from Turk Head, decided to change that following their active participation in the West Cork Together4Yes campaign.
‘During the referendum,’ Ms Weaver said, ‘we spoke to a lot of people on the doorsteps who wanted to effect change. They said they did not know who to vote for in local and national elections because they had become so disillusioned with the mainstream parties.’
It was following the success of the referendum, that the branch held its first official meeting on July 7th. At that meeting, Pamela Weaver was appointed chairperson and Clare O’Reilly was appointed branch secretary.
The chairperson said: ‘The referendum inspired us to establish a branch in West Cork with a view to fielding candidates in the upcoming local elections in May 2019.’
To date, 23 people have joined the Cork South West Social Democrats, five of whom are male. Nationally, that party has selected 20 election candidates, 12 of whom are women, including Sinead Halpin in Cork North Central and Patricia O’Dwyer in Cork South Central.
For now, the branch’s base of operations is at Pamela Weaver’s home in Kealkil.
The Social Democrats was established in July 2015 by Róisín Shortall, TD for Dublin North West, and Catherine Murphy, TD for Kildare North.
Founder member, Holly Cairns spoke of her enthusiasm for the new West Cork branch saying: ‘The assumption that rural communities are conservative by default is just wrong – as the referendum result showed, two thirds of Cork SW’s TDs were out of touch with two-thirds of the electorate.’
Holly Cairns, who returned from overseas to work with Brown Envelope Seeds – a family farm and business – said: ‘It is important that young people are offered a future in their locality. I think the Social Democrats’ vision for building a more inclusive, more equal Ireland will help achieve that for people in West Cork.’
Holly Cairns it was that reasoning that persuaded her to allow her name go forward as the Social Democrat candidate in the Bantry Electoral Area.
Her running mate in the Skibbereen and Clonakilty Electoral Area will be Evie Nevin, who lives in Clonakilty with her family.
Evie Nevin is a disability rights activist who founded and ran Disabled People Together for Yes during the recent campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment.