07 Jul 2022

Local Elections 2019: Double act on the canvass in Butler’s Lane in Athy

Doorstep issues: Late night noises, housing and heavy traffic in Leinster Street on voters’ minds

Local Election 2019: Double act on the canvass in Butler’s Lane in Athy

Cllr Mark Wall Daniel Cahill and Cllr Aoife Breslin

Last Friday afternoon on the canvass with Labour in Athy turned out to be a wet one.

The Leader tagged along with Labour candidates Cllrs Aoife Breslin and Mark Wall, who were knocking on doors at Butlers Lane in Athy.

Well-known former TD Jack Wall was in tow with the canvassers, and at the first door he steals the show.

“My man Jack,” said the householder, as we got a warm welcome on the doorstep but Jack got a hug.

The issues here on this doorstep involve the anti-social behaviour at the nearby skateboard park.

“It’s not the skaters but it’s the noise and the goings-on after dark. It is at night when the skateboarders have gone home.”

Cllr Bre,slin assured the householder that they are well aware of the noise issues and asked if the lighting has improved things at all.

We are told that the lighting has improved the situation thankfully.

Cllr Wall added that CCTV cameras for the town are due soon, which will be linked up to the garda station.

These two-long running and well-known candidates come as a pair and canvass together.

Cllr Wall informed me that office they share is 20 years going in Athy, and they have that ease of camaraderie that you often find with long standing colleagues.

“We were sitting down together looking at all the projects for Athy that have gone through and we counted 15,” he said. “All great for the town.”

The next householder cited housing as a problem for the town. There is a real lack of social housing in Athy, and this is a big issue for the area, along with the increase in homelessness locally.

“Homelessness is an issue though we are not presented with it as such,” said the householder.

“There was one man going around on his bike, but he travels that wa,y and another man was living in a tent last winter.”

Cllr Breslin explained that this man was offered a place in a shelter but refused to take it. “We have the family hub at the Dominican site,” she added, but she agreed that there is a dire need for more social housing in Athy.

This voter also thinks a pedestrian cross is badly needed at Leinster Street.

“It is such a busy junction and we all chance it to go to the bank,” she said.

“There was a tragic accident there earlier this year and that is why is it needed.” Cllr Breslin responded that the Ring Road will take the heavy traffic out of the town.

“When will we have the road?” is the next question and we are told in two years time it will finally be finished.

The conversation turned to the Local Link bus and the number of people using it.

“It is fantastic,” the lady added.

“It goes all over so you wouldn’t want to be in a hurry but it is a great service.”

Both Councillors agreed that it is working really well in the town and that it also acts as a way for people to meet up and have the chat.

In fact, this householder and Jack Wall even had time to reminisce about Jack’s school days and it made me wonder if he ever misses the political life.

“Absolutely not,” he told me with a grin.

“I did my time — I was 23 years in politics and I am enjoying my retirement.”

On the way round Cllr Breslin mentioned the loss of one seat in the Athy area for this election, which has gone from a six seater to a five.

“That is a concern,” she said.

“A lot of candidates would be Athy-based. If the hard work over the years pays off and if the people who came through the office vote, then who knows.”

She mentioned that the issues in rural areas include crime and young families commuting to Dublin.

“Crime is a big issue and we need more trains put on for commuters,” she said.

“Planning permissions for one-off rural houses is a massive problem that will have to be looked at by the next council, as well as affordable housing and employment.”

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