LOUTH County Councillor Frank Godfrey is the latest name to have entered the General Election race after announcing his intention to run as an independent.
By James Rogers
The Drogheda man is no stranger to General Election bids with the upcoming election set to be his seventh time competing for a seat in this constituency.
Cllr Godfrey first ran for election in 1977 when he finished bottom of the pile with 751 votes. He increased his vote to 1,210 in 1981 before running in both of the elections the following year.
In February 1982 he claimed 1,662 first preference votes - his best showing of his six attempts to date - but this dropped to just 951 votes by November 1982.
He next ran in 1997, when he claimed 1037 first preference votes before running again in 2002 - his last attempt - where he claimed 473 first preference votes before being eliminated on the second count with 507.
Despite failing to win election in the past, Cllr Godfrey feels he has the right experience to launch a fresh challenge and said halting emigration would be his primary concern going into the upcoming campaign.
In a statement about his decision to enter the election race, Cllr Godfrey said: "I have served diligently the community at local level for many years and now would be honoured to serve the community at national level. I have gained much valuable experience in my political career to date.
"To the forefront of my campaign will be the youth and elderly who have always been a special priority with me and will continue to be. We must halt the exodus of our most valuable asset the youth, through emigration.
"Job creation and small business start ups are a priority to get our economy moving again," he said.
Cllr Godfrey said he would also be prioritising health services within the county, including those at the Louth County Hospital.
He said: "The health service needs overhauling badly, it is presently unmanageable. There seems to be mismanagement at every level. We need to retain services at Louth County Hospital and promote the Minor Injuries Unit.
"The Lourdes Hospital is no longer fit to serve our community through lack of resources with no disrespect to the hard-working staff. Too much money is being spent on administration and not on patient care. With the current HSE embargo on employing more staff this is unacceptable to the running of a safe hospital.
"It's shameful that patients are on two year waiting lists for first appointments and some procedures. Healthcare will be a major issue in this election. There is a great need for reform of local and national government. There needs to be radical change in Irish politics with more accountability and honesty from the next government if people are to believe in politicians ever again.
"I am looking forward to the challenge ahead and meeting the people on this election trail," he said.
l Cllr Frank Godfrey