Former County Mayor and well known politician, Cathal Boland has decided to make a dramatic return to politics. Boland, who has over 20 years experience serving the local community in the local authority, has decided to re-enter local politcal life and run in the upcoming local elections, as a non-party candidate for the Balbriggan Electoral Ward. His inclusion in the race is certain to add a new dimension to proceedings.
This news will come as a surprise to many, but Boland, who will be arguably the most seasoned politician to enter the fray, with a wealth of experience, is very passionate about certain issues in the North County that are not being adequately addressed, as he explained to the County Leader.
“I have decided to stand as a non-party candidate, because I believe there is a major deficit in how the council is interacting with the public. This year, the number of councillors to be elected in the Balbriggan Ward, has increased from five to eight and I think that its important that, as the Council expands from 24 to 40 members, that those who have experience and vision and have done it before, are available to lend their support to shaping the future of the county. When the Council was first established in 1994, it was perceived to be the lame duck of the four local authorities in Dublin. I played my part in positioning the Council to be capable of funding themselves and how the Council operated and delivered value for money.
Boland’s vast wealth of experience includes serving two terms as Mayor, 1998-1999 and 2001-2002, as well as serving as Deputy Mayor in 1997/98, and being Chair of the Local Area Committee, covering the Swords/Balbriggan area, which is one of the proposed municipal areas within the Council.
Boland views his service of 21 years as a county councillor as a great advantage when it comes to serving the community. “I retired prior to the 2004 local elections, having been involved at all levels of local politics and I still have the same enthusiasm and drive as before and the desire to see things done better. There is a wonderful opportunity for change with the expansion and devolution of powers under the new proposals. This is an opportunity to make things better than before,” he said. The main streets of our towns, particularly Balbriggan and Swords are dying. We need to restore them to places where we bring the community together to shop and regenerating businesses back onto the main streets. The Government has got to allow local authorities to levy rates. I believe that a change in the law would allow the Council to put in Rate Equalisation variations, which is the way forward.
“The Council would generate the same amount in commercial rates, but they would be allowed the opportunity to designate areas of particular types of businesses as being rate exempt, maybe for a certain amount of time, depending on their benefit to an area. This would give small businesses an incentive and stimulus to do business on the main street”. “My proposal would allow the Council to be, effectively, a grant giver to selected types of businesses. This is something where the State must legislate on how and where the Council raises it’s money. Politics is about thinking and developing ideas”. There are things that I dreamt about 20 years ago, that are now being implemented. You have to be there for the long game,” he said
Another area of importance for him is the opening up of the Round Tower in Lusk, as a project that will showcase the rich heritage of the town. “There are three cottages, which interfere with the view of the Round Tower and Church. Two of these cottages are up for sale. I called the County Manager recently and told him that this is the time to be brave and to buy the cottages. The fact that two are for sale at the same time, is a golden opportunity not to be missed to open the vista. My proposal to buy Ryan’s pub in Swords, in order to open up the wonderful view of Swords Castle was ridiculed at the time, but I have been proven to be correct,” he said.
The tower will be opened up onto the square, thus showing Lusk’s wonderful heritage to all, instead of it being hidden away, as well as creating car parking spaces. Along with the development of Balleally Park and Katie’s Cottage, Lusk can now become a tourism destination in itself. We need to see how we can make The North County a tourist destination, with 20 million people passing through. We get a very small amount of people stopping in the area and we need to get them to spend bed nights here, which will generate much needed money. I believe the future of the North County is about harnessing tourism. We also need to help entrepreneurs to develop their business to make Fingal a place to work, rest and play. It’s time to stop talking and do something. Excuses are no longer good enough. We need positive proactivity”.
He is very passionate about using our natural amenities to the fullest, something he feels has been neglected heretofore. “One of the problem areas facing the Council is job creation, but I don’t think that we have exploited the opportunities that our natural resources provide. I had suggested that we should establish a Coastal Committee and the recent storms have brought this into sharp focus. Coastal erosion is an issue and has been happening all through my political life, and we need to see how we can defend the coast and use it to the best possible way. Regional parks are another resource which can be exploited and I was associated with the Balleally Regeneration project”, he concluded.