The Green Party in Carlow-Kilkenny has selected Cllr Malcolm Noonan to contest the upcoming by-election caused by the resignation of former Environment Minister Phil Hogan. The 48-year-old was formally ratified by members of the Carlow-Kilkenny Greens earlier this week.
Following his selection, Cllr Noonan said that he was honoured and humbled to represent the Green Party, and that he would be equally honoured to be elected by the people of Carlow and Kilkenny.
Son of a retired soldier, spending his early years living in the military barracks in Kilkenny, Malcolm comes from a family of seven sisters and two brothers. He first stood for the Green Party in 2004, taking local politics by surprise with the second-highest first preference vote, and winning a County and Borough seat. He retained his seat in 2009, increasing his vote in the process. It was a stand-out achievement when the Party retained only three of its Council seats nationally
In 2009, Cllr Noonan became the first Green Party Mayor in the history of Kilkenny, a time when the City celebrated the 400th anniversary of the City Charter. Sometimes controversial, he drove an ambitious agenda, transforming the office and delivering funding for the purchase of St Mary’s Church in the City, helping to establish the Kilkenny Integration Forum, opening City Hall for concerts and town hall meetings, and delivering a EU Research Project for the city. In the weeks leading up to the end of his tenure, over 1,000 signatures were gathered by people in Kilkenny to request that he serve a second term.
In 2011, Cllr Noonan contested the leadership of the Green Party following John Gormley’s resignation. Noonan said: “I was of the view that the Party needed to return to its core values of social justice and ecological economics, and that we had lost our way during our term in Government.” Malcolm was appointed as Green Party Environment Spokesperson following Eamon Ryan’s election as Party Leader; a position he holds to date.
In the recent 2014 elections, Cllr Noonan comfortably gained a seat in the reconfigured electoral landscape of Kilkenny West. In what has been a tumultuous few months since the May election, he made several attempts at Council to have a complete and independent review of the controversial Central Access Scheme (CAS) for the City of Kilkenny. He was the only member of the former Borough Council to oppose the project.
Cllr Noonan continued: “Having spent ten years in local government, and twenty years before that as a community and environmental activist, I feel that I have adequately served my apprenticeship, and that I am ready to contribute to, and participate in, the national debate.
“Events of recent months have shown that this is a Government on auto-pilot, coasting from one disaster to the next, with no vision as to what type of Ireland we really want. I believe our future should be focused on sustainable economic development, an ideology which challenges the growth at all costs agenda, is based on an equitable distribution of resources, and a secure energy future.
“Over the coming weeks and months I will be putting our vision and our policies to the people of Carlow and Kilkenny. It will be a campaign focused on positive solutions, which will clearly articulate a case for local economic, social and ecological resilience. I have no time for the politics of blame while our people are craving leadership and a clear articulation of a vision for a sustainable future for all.
“Official Ireland has lost its connection with the people, and key democratic institutions have been undermined or ignored. I’m focusing my campaign on the theme of participation in decision making, ensuring that everyone has a stake in, an opportunity to shape, their future.”
Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan said: “Malcolm represents the best of what the Green Party is about. For ten years he has been an exemplary public representative for the people of Kilkenny, and it is now time for him to move onto the national stage.
“Irish politics needs someone who is so knowledgeable about how to develop community activism working in our national parliament. We would all benefit from the election of such a brave public representative, who has taken on the social and environmental causes that other politicians and parties prefer to remain silent about.
“We look forward to the by-election and to the return of a Green TD from Carlow and Kilkenny. We have won there before with Mary White, and we are confident we can win again.”
Malcolm works as a part time project worker with a County Kilkenny Suicide Prevention project; Lifeline. Married to Jennie, a childcare and family support worker with Traveller families, they have four children ranging in age from 11 to four months.