TO represent the ordinary man is what Conor Mac Liam of the Socialist Party promises to do if he is elected.
“I will only be taking the average workers wage and I want to offer a real alternative to the present government. I will be a voice for the workers and the unemployed,” the father of two said during his canvas at the Pococke Valley on the outskirts of the city.
The secondary school teacher is well known locally mainly due to his tireless work as a public health campaigner and for being instrumental in setting up and raising funds for the Susie Long Hospice Fund. One of his greatest challenges will be getting himself known to the electorate over the next month. There is no political machine churning out canvassers in this campaign and as a first-time candidate running for a small party Conor is considering new and innovative ways to secure potential votes. “I am hoping to do some street theatre to get my message out and to hold public meetings around the constituency. We want to set up an opposition to the current government and so far we have been getting a very favourable response. I am completely opposed to the IMF austerity cuts and it is my belief that the ordinary people should not have to pay for the mistakes made by the governments and the banks,” he said.
Conor was accompanied by his daughter Aine on the canvas and by Paddy Delaney who are both members of the Socialist Party. The reaction on the doorsteps was positive with people happy to listen to an alternative to the current government. “He has some good things to say,” said Natasha Reilly who runs the Lilliput Montessori in Pococke. “It is about getting a voice in government for the ordinary working man and the unemployed,” said Paddy.
“It is my belief that the rich should pay for the economic crisis as opposed to the ordinary people paying. People in the banks should take their losses. Even if I don’t get elected this time round I will be putting myself forward and will stand in the local elections,” Conor said.
Cuts to education grants was an issue that was raised by a number of voters with one man stating simply that if there were any further cuts he would be unable to continue with his college course. “If they continue to increase taxes and cut grants I will be forced out of the education system,” he said. Another man explained that he had lost his job and was struggling to pay back his mortgage. “I am in massive negative equity and no one seems to have a solution to this problem. Perhaps if the next government re valued mortgages to the real value of property as it is today that would be a help. Something needs to be done and jobs need to be created for people who are trapped and have huge mortgages outstanding,” he said.
Locally Conor is well known for his work regarding the health care system. When his wife Susie Long, who died of cancer in October 2007, became ill, both she and Conor actively highlighted the crisis in cancer services and the need for a day unit to carry out colonoscopies at St Luke’s Hospital and a hospice for Kilkenny.