A TREMENDOUS privilege is how newly elected TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, John Paul Phelan described his first day in the Dail. The 32-year-old, the youngest TD in the constituency has had a hard few years having fought the European Parliament elections two years ago and before that a successful Seanad election and the 2007 general election. It has all been worthwhile and he is now looking forward to getting involved in trying to improve things for the people of Kilkenny. He senses the change in people and noted that it is one for the better. “People are ready to roll up their sleeves and to try and get this country working again and hopefully our new government will help to provide the stimulus that is so badly needed,” he said.
He is under no illusions about the severity of the economic situation and of the job ahead. “There are huge obstacles in our way but we have to focus on how we can get people back to work,” he said. After his election he received many messages of congratulations but many of them were from young Kilkenny people in Canada, Australia and other parts of the globe. “It really hits when you realise how many of our best young graduates have had to emigrate,” he said.
On a personal note, he was delighted to have his two brothers Eamon and Seamus, a former national president of Macra Na Feirme with him on his big day along with his three sisters, Bridget, Mary and Catherine, a former member of Kilkenny County Council for a number of years. The event was tinged with sadness because his late father Jimmy was not there to share in the success. Thankfully his mother Mary in Tullogher is in good health and delighted with her son’s achievement.
Looking back on how far he has come without any family background in politics, he said he many people to thank since he got involved 12 years ago.
He used the opportunity to promote his native county. “I hope Kilkenny and the South East hope will be in line for a major boost as soaring oil prices make the port in Belview an attractive port of call to Ireland for container and cruise traffic. He said there had been significant investment in the Port of Waterford, located in Belview, Co Kilkenny and the proximity of the location to Europe, coupled with major infrastructural improvements and a high-calibre, multi-agency ‘Invest Kilkenny’ initiative, are expected to boost revenue and throughput at the South Kilkenny port. He said that locating a business in Kilkenny and the South East was never more attractive. The Invest Kilkenny campaign was launched late last year to promote the city, county and its environs as a place where world-class business thrives. Further details are available on www.investkilkenny.ie.