LOCAL schoolteacher Maria Doyle will be the new face on Dundalk Town Council when it sits again next Tuesday.
The mother of two was selected by Fine Gael at its meeting last Thursday to succeed recently appointed Senator Jim D’Arcy on the council and she will take up his former seat when she is co-opted officially next week.
Maria, a member of the Kenny family from the Ardee Road, has been an active member of the party locally since helping re-establish the Fine Gael Dundalk South Branch in 2003.
Prior to that she was a member of Young Fine Gael in UCG and she told The Dundalk Democrat she was looking forward to now representing the public on behalf of the party.
“I’m delighted with the honour,” she said.
“I’m very excited to have this opportunity and I’m just looking forward to getting into it now.
“I put my name forward for the county council seat when it came up and I was very close to getting the seat that Linus English got but when they announced they wanted someone different for the Town Council I knew it was a possibility that it might be me. I had an interview on Monday and only found out on Wednesday that I was being proposed for the seat,” she said.
Maria, who teaches in the CBS Primary school in Chapel Street, said she had considered running in the last local elections in 2009 but put it off as her two children by husband Frank, James and Conor, were too young.
Now though, the former Friary and Dun Lughaidh student is anxious to make up for lost time.
“My family had always strong connections with Fine Gael in Dundalk and in Cooley, where my mum was from.
“When I moved back to Dundalk in 2003 I was one of the founding members of the Fine Gael Dundalk South Branch and I’ve canvassed for the party in every election since then.
“I’ve worked for the likes of Jim D’Arcy, Benedicta Attoh, Mairead McGuinness and, most recently, Peter Fitzpatrick.
“What I love most about politics is going out and meeting people and having canvassed for Peter in the last election that really spurred me on to get involved.”
While a lack of women in politics is a regular complaint, Maria will become the third female member of Dundalk Town Council after current chair Marianne Butler and Sinn Féin’s Jennifer Green.
Maria admits that the fact she is female was probably a factor in the party’s decision in selecting her to succeed Jim D’Arcy on the council but she feels she has the skills to succeed in the role, regardless of her sex.
“I’m sure the fact that I’m a woman was a bonus but having spoken to a lot of people while out canvassing earlier this year it made me realise that I’m a young woman with kids and a job who has a lot of the same problems that many people in Dundalk have.
“I understand where people are coming from.
“Firstly I just want to get in there and get involved. There are a lot of big developments in Dundalk between health and education but I want to see what people want to.
“I worked in Intel before and communication was a big thing there and that’s the most important thing to me,” she said.