ACTIVIST and former Sinn Fein councillor, Donal O’Cofaigh, is to stand for election in 2014 local shadow council elections, as an ‘anti-fracking’ candidate.
Mr O’Cofaigh was a councillor prior to leaving Sinn Fein in 2009, and failed in his attempts to regain his seat as a socialist candidate in the 2011 local government elections.
“I believe that there’s a need for people to stand up on issues-based politics, generally,” the Belcoo man explained.
“And it is quite clear to me that there’s a need for a candidate in particular to run on the issue of anti-fracking.”
Mr O’Cofaigh will run as an independent in the Enniskillen electoral area.
“Obviously Enniskillen is not immediately affected by this, but it will be affected by this industry – and in a sense what I’m trying to do is encourage others go forward, and to create a cross community slate of anti-fracking, candidates.”
And he admitted that running has been something that has been in his mind since his previous attempt in 2011.
“I ran the last time in Enniskillen for a council seat, so obviously it’s something that would have been on my mind for a while.
“The idea of running as an anti-fracking candidate is really developed out of the need, I think, for political intervention specifically to advance this issue.
“To raise the profile of the issue among the community, and to really challenge the existing parties who haven’t done anything on it.
“Both the DUP and Sinn Fein have the power to veto this, and as of yet they haven’t done this.”
While his focus my be on fracking, other issues are of concern. The councillors currently serving also came in for strong criticism from Mr O’Cofaigh.
“I think that the local council has not done much about a whole range of issues – there’s a jobless crisis, there’s a crisis in terms of household incomes, there’s a lack of investment in the county – and I don’t blame the council for that, I blame the councillors. They’re the executive body of the council.
“I think it’s a question if you want to challenge that and give the people a choice on more of the same continues, or if there’s a different approach to politics.”
In a parting shot, Mr O’Cofaigh criticised comments on fracking by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster, in last week’s Fermanagh Herald.
Minister Foster accused local groups anti-fracking groups of ‘scaremongering’, and that ‘if it (fracking) can be carried out in an environmentally safe way, then it could be a game changer for Fermanagh’.
“I’m sure it’s game changer for Arlene,” Mr O’Cofaigh said.
“I think Arlene should come out clearly on whether she is supporting it or not. I think she is supporting it very strategically, and I think the people will make their own mind up about Arlene Foster.”
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