Fianna Fail candidate Declan Breathnach has represented the people of Dundalk South on Louth County Council for 23 years.
He is the out-going county council. The new council will be an amalgamation of the county’s three urban authorities and the old council and will consist of 29 councillors.
Declan Breathnach has twice been chairman of Louth County Council. He is a former chairman of Louth County Development Board and was joint chairman of the Memorandum of Understanding between Louth, Newry and Mourne District Council.
He served on the board of governors of DkIT, the VEC, Louth Enterprise Board and the board of Management of O Fiaich College.
He also has 35 years experience as a primary school teacher.
“I am hoping I can continue serving the people of Dundalk south,” said Declan.
“The bread and butter issues are what concern people now. So these will have to be dealt with by whoever is elected to the new council, together with an understanding of the importance of Louth strategically in north-south cooperation.
“It’s a unique opportunity to put in place strong local government reform,” he said. “The role of a councillor is to serve our communities, support job creation, promote local growth and revitalise our towns and villages.
“I believe that to achieve this we must have real political reform at local level.”
On the doorstep in this campaign he has heard the issues that voters are really concerned with: water charges, property tax, energy costs, housing, negative equity, care of the elderly, medical card reviews, child care costs, job creation.
“The stagnation in the construction sector is holding back job creation,” he said, “and leading to the rise in the cost of living.
“I believe a new approach is needed to direct a new home building programme. We also need to give new funds and properties to voluntary associations.
“At least 12 per cent of property in Louth is vacant so we need to establish a vacant home refurbishment scheme.
“The new council will also need to take account of people’s inability to pay the property tax and water charges, and I also think that rates should be frozen for five years and sporting organisations should not pay commercial rates.”
Declan is involved in Tidy Towns, is secretary of Stephenstown Pond Trust and believes voluntary groups should have a greater voice.
He has drawn up some very useful guides on taxation, health, housing, and social welfare for his constituents.
And he wants to see the Government give something back to pensioners in the next budget.
“Older people are being forced to choose between eating and heating,” he said.
I think everybody would agree with that.