Sinn Féin’s leader Mary Lou McDonald, and Wicklow TD John Brady, joined the party’s by-election candidate Johnny Mythen for a campaign launch held in the Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy, last night.
The room full of activists and supporters also included Kathleen Funchion TD (Carlow-Kilkenny), and current and past Sinn Féin county councillors.
Topics raised during panel speeches and the Q&A afterwards included Mental Health services, Healthcare, Housing, the prospects for a United Ireland amid Brexit, and Political Accountability.
In rousing speeches, the three main speakers were rallying their campaign troops for both door-to-door canvassing and broader community engagement.
Mary Lou McDonald said that the housing crisis, and social tensions it caused, were “not acts of God we have to accept – they are the direct result of government policy, which can and must change.”
She said that what separated Sinn Féin from other parties, is that its “mission is to stand up for ordinary people – we are not in the back pocket of vested interests of big business, and banks don’t pull our strings.”
John Brady pointed out that it was the centenary of 1916 Enniscorthy hero Seán Etchingham, being first Sinn Féin TD elected in Wicklow, and that now Wicklow Sinn Féin – along with other neighbouring counties – would like to help return the favour.
Candidate Johnny Mythen pointed out how New Zealand’s parliament had just passed a specific mental health budget – the first of its kind among Western countries – and that this showed that people’s happiness could and should be a priority as practical policy, contrary to “spin” that it had to be sacrificed for the economy.
He also said that County Wexford TDs would have to be held accountable for their Dáil and Budget votes in Dublin, “and then turning around back in Wexford and saying how something needs to be done” about the same issues.
In conclusion, Johnny Mythen, a former chairman of Enniscorthy Urban District Council and member of Wexford County Council, who is already busy on the hustings concluded by saying: “let’s fight the good fight – let’s do it for Wexford.”