Who will emerge as a ‘strong champion’ for Waterford? David Cullinane makes his pitch
The starting gun has been fired on the General Election showdown in the Waterford constituency.
Although Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has yet to confirm the exact date the county will go to the polls, it seems certain voters will get a chance to have their say on the make-up of the next government within a matter of weeks.
In Waterford, of course, it’s all to play for. One sitting TD, the conspicuously and continuously absent John Deasy, will not be defending his seat, nor will his Fine Gael and constituency rival Paudie Coffey, who recently announced his intention to stand down from public life when his current term as Senator ends.
And it looks increasingly likely that Minister of State John Halligan will not contest the election after a source close to the Indpendent TD told WaterfordNow.ie yesterday that he is “seriously considering retirement”.
In the absence of these political heavyweights, the question now on local voters’ lips is: who can deliver for Waterford?
Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane, arguably one of the current Dáil’s most impressive performers, certainly thinks he has what is takes to fill the power vacuum sorely felt in Waterford, which has been without a senior minister for more than a decade.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have both ruled out going into coalition with Sinn Féin, prompting Deputy Cullinane to hit out at what he calls the “status-quo establishment politics” of both parties.
Deputy Cullinane, a stong contender to top the poll locally, rightly says the city and county needs “a strong voice in Government” and if given the opportunity he will be “a strong champion” for Waterford in government.
“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are the political establishment,” said Deputy Cullinane. “They want to maintain the status-quo and they don’t want Sinn Féin in government because they know we will do things differently.
“This confidence and supply arrangement has failed Waterford. Neither Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael has the vision to deliver for Waterford and the South East. I have the energy, the commitment and the vision to help deliver for Waterford.
“One thing is certain, Sinn Féin in Government will put people first; we will stand up for families, for workers and for communities.
“I reject the idea that Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin can dictate that we or our voters are not good enough for government.
“The hypocrisy of Leo Varadkar and his partner Micheál Martin is stunning. In government, Sinn Féin would deliver the biggest public housing building programme in the history of the State, bring about real change in the health service, transform the childcare system and give families and workers a break.
“We are the only party with a chance to make a real impact against the establishment politics of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in the next election, and we will demonstrate that throughout the upcoming election campaign.”
Other voices will no doubt emerge to make their pitches over the coming days and weeks, but Deputy Cullinane, it appears, is first out of the traps.