“I’ve never heard of you,” a young lady tells Fianna Fail candidate and long-standing local councillor Fiona O’Loughlin as she begins her canvass through Dara Park in Newbridge.
Elaine Kelly takes a leaflet and then begins to list the issues affecting the estate for years including problems with sewage, fowl odour and flooding.
None of this is news to Cllr O’Loughlin, who has chaired numerous meetings in the past with residents and Kildare County Council to get these issues sorted. “We have secured €150,000 to sort out the sewage and the works are due to start soon,” she said..
It is mentioned that there is nothing for children to do in the area and the kids go around ‘like headless chickens’ during the holidays.
“We also have a commitment from Kildare County Council for a skateboard park for the town. I am also involved in Junefest which is coming up and free.”
Cllr O’Loughlin is accompanied on the canvass by Yvonne Foley and Marguerite Rowan, who take every second house and post leaflets through locked doors, even those with posters of “Seamus Finn, Vote Number 1” in the window. The ladies are kitted out in their canvass t-shirts with the eye catching slogan ‘Keep calm and vote for Fiona O’Loughlin’.
“We might get the number two,” explains a hopeful Yvonne.
A young boy then eagerly cycles over to announce that that his mammy is on her way home, and would like to talk to us, so we follow him to the last house in the row. His mammy, Michelle English, who has lived here for four years has a constant battle with sewage and odour. She has heard of Cllr O’Loughlin and is glad to see her as she has both a communion and confirmation coming up and is naturally concerned.
“The smell is rotten,” she said. “I have a confirmation and communion next month and because I am in the end house I’m getting the worst of it. I’m having a party out the back and a barbecue. The smell is brutal it is coming up my sink and it comes up the lane way beside my house. It’s horrible. I rang the council and they sent some one out and cleaned it up otherwise the lane way would look awful today. All we get is the run around because it’s Dara Park.”
Cllr O’Loughlin said that a new system will be installed soon and promises to follow up before the communion which is on May 10 next. As we leave a faint smell wafts up the alley way and all agree that it’s horrible. Two dogs are sniffing around the drains where the sewage is often backed up and someone adds that “the smell just hits you in the face”, as we head to the next row.
The next residents have been living in Dara Park for 40 years.
“I don’t think anyone is very good, the only time they come to the door is to get the vote,” said Deirdre McKenna.
“The flooding here is desperate - the water has come right up to the door for years. The government has just turned people off and people are just fed up. They won’t starve, go hungry or wonder where the money is coming from to pay the water rates.”
Cllr O’Loughin said that the council is now spending money on landscaping and there is a plan for the lake to be done in time for Dara Park’s 40th anniversary celebrations in July.
Neighbour Martin Domican was more upbeat however and said he was pleased with all the work being done in Dara Park but added that the sewage is still cause for concern.
“It has been a struggle but overall I am pleased with the improvements made - every little helps.”
Another long standing resident Ger Murphy is looking forward to the estate’s 40 year anniversary in July. “People are coming from all over even Australia,” he said. “There will be a mass at the lake. Huge strives have been made here over the years. There is still huge unemployment and the the sewage problem is only being solved now.”