Tramore Town Councillor Joe Conway, at the official launch of his candidacy for the Town and County Council elections, had a cut at the latter for what he described as a dismal track record in promoting employment in Tramore and the east of the county generally.
On the job creation front he maintained that despite being the county’s biggest town, Tramore compared most unfavourably with Dungarvan which he pointedly identified as home not only to the County Council’s offices but also the vast majority of its decision makers.
“We need to impel the County Council to draw up local enterprise plans urgently – within six months of the election – for Tramore, Dunmore East, Butlerstown and Passage”, he asserted. “We cannot have the local authority standing by, waiting for the employment tide to turn, it must become actively involved in making things happen”.
The former Mayor of Tramore, who was a successful first-time-out Independent Town Council candidate in 2004 and also garnered a creditable 469 first preferences in that year’s County Council election, also wants to see Tramore’s Youth Café project replicated in the other population centres of East Waterford. He was instrumental, with others, in establishing the one in Tramore.
“The Youth Café model is a progressive way of giving young people places to meet, socialise and simply hang-out in safety, indoors and away from the usual drinking-dens”, he commented. As well as the Youth Booth in Tramore, he suggested there should be County Council support for such cafés in Butlerstown, Dunhill-Fenor, Passage and Dunmore.
“There is no point saying that the funds are not there…to say so is to store up huge problems for the future. If the County Council can find money to send Councillors to New York each St. Patrick’s Day, then it should be able to find it for our young people”, he argued.
Cllr Conway doesn’t underestimate the scale of the task facing him in his quest for Council seats at town and county level. “I have never been a member of any party, so I rely solely on family and a small group of loyal supporters to do the legwork and canvass”, he said. “Neither do I seek or accept financial support from any quarter.
“It will be a very difficult election to win for an Independent. I would need to at least double my number one votes in the county from 2004 to stay ahead of the eliminations on count day. If I fail in that, the seats will slip away again to Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, Labour or Fine Gael. But I am quietly confident that my record of hard work for Tramore over the last five years will tell with voters and will take me over the finish line”.
In common with his Tramore Council colleague, Ann Marie Power (FG), Cllr Conway holds a Politics Degree from the National University of Ireland and since 2004 has represented the Town Council on the national executive of the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland. Since 2006 he has also represented Irish local authorities at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, where he has been an outspoken advocate of Waterford and Tramore as centres for heritage and eco-tourism.