Antoin Watters: 'When life gets hectic it is important to remember the special people in your life'
Antoin Watters is a local councillor for North Louth. He is also a well-known footballer with Cooley Kickhams
Tell us about where you grew up?
I lived in a small village, Meigh in Armagh, until we moved to Cooley when I was 10. We had always spent our summers with my mother’s family in Cooley and some of my best childhood memories are of building tree huts, playing football and fishing in the stream beside my granny's house. I am the eldest of four boys and we were always keeping my mother on her toes. We all have a great interest in sport and became embedded in Cooley Kickhams and Bellurgan United straight away. I made friends for life playing football and we even had some successes along the way.
An interesting fact about the townland where I live, Lugbriscan: all the people who live there are family! A townland all to ourselves.
What elements of Dundalk and north Louth are you proud of most?
For me the Cooley Peninsula is a beautiful place to live in and sometimes I am guilty of not appreciating how lucky I am to live here. I often take drives around the area and we have breath taking views from Omeath the whole way around to Bellurgan. We also have a beautiful coastline and our Blue Flag beach in Templetown which I try to visit as much as possible.
The sense of community is definitely something we can all be proud of. It may go unnoticed until you are in need of help but everyone really does look out for each other. The Cooley Community Alert is a great example of this and something I am proud to be part of.
Why did you enter politics?
From a young age I always had an interest in politics and would always like to keep up to date with current affairs. One of my earliest memories would be the Good Friday Agreement and how significant it was to our whole Island. I was co-opted onto Louth County Council to replace Jim Loughran and I have to say I have loved every minute of my time on the Council so far. I feel I am helping to make our community a safer and more enjoyable place to live in and hope to continue to do that for a long time.
Is Dundalk and north Louth a good place to work as a councillor?
I feel very honoured to be able to represent the people of Dundalk/Carlingford everyday. As a councillor you can be asked to help in many different ways and it is great to be able to assist and make someone’s daily life that wee bit easier.
Do you think Dundalk people are civically engaged?
Yes, people always want to help out in the local community in any way they can. There are a lot of people who give up their spare time to volunteer and help out.
I think a great example of this is the Cooley Peninsula Marine Litter project. We had our second clean up last Saturday and it continues to amaze me the amount of people who come to give a helping hand.
What do you think is the biggest issue north Louth is currently facing?
Without a doubt the biggest issue facing Dundalk and the North Louth area at the moment is Brexit. I work in a small business in Lordship called O'Connor Roofing Supplies and I know how important cross border trade is to our business. Brexit brings so much uncertainty and fear.
There are also alot of other businesses that could be severly impacted such as the haulage and tourism industries which create alot of jobs in our area. As a public representative I am going to continue to work to ensure there is the least possible impact to our day to day lives.
Is there anything you think the area is lacking or that we could do with more of?
Services are a major issue. So many people in the area don't have adequate broadband. In this day and age it is not acceptable and it is restricting small businesses and people who want to work from home. We also need investment in our infrastructure, road networks and health services. There have been too many cuts and it now time for money to be spent to improve rural Ireland. Louth County hospital is an example of cuts that need to reversed to ensure the area are receiving the best possible services.
How do you like to relax?
I play gaelic with Cooley Kickhams when I have some free time. I find it is a great way to relax and catch up with friends. I also enjoy day trips away with my wife Fionnghuala and son Éanna. When life gets hectic it is important to remember the special people in your life and spend time with them. I also consider myself a keen pool player and enjoy a few games in Martins Bar in Riverstown when the opportunity arises.
How would you describe local people here in Louth?
Friendly, honest and always willing to give a hand. Its important to have an active community and that is present in North Louth.
What plans do you have for the rest of year? (personally and professionally)
We are currently building our house and hope to have it completed for Christmas, which will be brilliant. We are going on a family holiday to Spain in October which will be the first trip on an aeroplane for Éanna so it is very exciting.
Professionally, I have a lot of work to do regarding issues that were raised while I was canvassing. Helping people out with small issues that have a big impact on their lives, is some of the most rewarding work I do.
I also plan to continue raising issues about community safety and illegal dumping, which I have highlighted over the last number of years. Unfortunately illegal dumping continues to happen but the Cooley Peninsula Marine Litter Project has been a great success so far and is raising awareness about the issue.
What memories stand out from your youth most?
One of my best memories is winning back to back Minor Championships with Cooley Kickhams in 2005 and 2006. It was a brilliant achievement and what better way to achieve something then with my brother Cormac and some of my closest friends by my side.