Niamh Kennedy promises to put Donegal first
Independent Councillor, Niamh Kennedy, emphasised her campaign slogan, "Donegal First", when she spoke at the official launch of her general election campaign in the Bay View Hotel, Killybegs, on Saturday night.
"I am running in the general election for the same reason I ran for local politics" Cllr Kennedy said. "I am running to help Donegal and its people to the best of my ability."
Stressing her policy objectives, she said that, despite what Fine Gael said about employment being on the increase, this is not the case in Donegal.
"Unemployment rates in Inishowen are at 28.6 per cent", she said, "the figure is 29.7 per cent in the Gaeltacht areas and 24.3 per cent in the Donegal Municipal District. This is staggering."
Cllr Kennedy said Donegal needs inward investment in broadband, roads and other infrastructure to create proper, sustainable jobs.
She added: "Our health service is in tatters and the HSE are utterly appalling in their behaviour towards parents of terminally ill children, people with disabilities and the elderly."
As an example of the uncaring attitude of the health system, Cllr Kennedy added: "When people are being notified of hospital appointments, they don't even look at the geography. A person from Glencolmcille is told to report at 10am and someone in Letterkenny is asked to turn up at mid-day."
She also condemned "the pollution of our countryside" with wind turbines which were being promoted as "green" and environmentally-friendly while, in fact, they disrupted our landscape, damaged peatlands and caused shadow flicker as well as creating ill-feeling between neighbours.
She called also for separate Ministers for Fisheries and for Agriculture.
The launch event was attended by two stalwarts of the Independent Alliance group, Senator Gerard Craughwell, past-president of the Teachers Union of Ireland, and campaigner for rural Ireland, Michael Fitzmaurice TD.
Sen. Craughwell praised Niamh Kennedy as "a strong worker and a very humble person". He said: "She has Donegal in her blood - in her heart."
Mr Fitzmaurice said that the state of the Health Service was an example of the neglect of rural areas. "Cancer patients from Donegal should not have to get a bus to Galway for treatment. But nothing will change unless people stand up to be counted", he said.