Independent candidate for Louth Topanga Bird has called on voters to “stop our political insanity” as the largely unknown Dáil Éireann hopeful plots a shock on Saturday.
Bird, a community organiser from Hughes Park in Dundalk, entered the race last month and is one of 15 candidates running for election on February 8 in the five seat constituency.
She is one of four non-party affiliated candidates and one of three women contesting the ballot. In a statement released on Monday, she reiterated among things her insistence that the emergency department of Louth County Hospital be reopened.
“If we want to start solving the health care crisis, we first need to reopen Dundalk’s Louth County Hospital emergency department,” Bird said.
“That will take the pressure off health care in Drogheda, which is now servicing everyone from the Northern Irish border to Meath and beyond. Then we need to focus on providing local health care – urban and rural – and stop building multi-billion euro edifices in Dublin.”
“If we want to solve the housing crisis, we need to build actually affordable housing. We need to build housing affordable for those of us in Dundalk earning a median income of €36,591 or in Drogheda earning one of €36,591.
“Not housing affordable to those in South Dublin earning a median income of €52,759 or Dublin City earning one of €47,294. Affordability is a function of net income and we in Co. Louth need ‘us-price’ housing, not that of ‘Dublin-price’,” she continued.
Bird and the other non-party candidates have a tough task on their hands to emerge successful from Saturday’s vote, with just five seats up for grabs. Louth has not elected an independent candidate since 1933.
Bird describes her political leaning as ‘not left wing, nor right wing, but new wing’, christening her non-party platfrom as gaeilge ‘Nua Eite’.
“If we want to stem the growing crime and drug abuse problem, let’s focus our efforts on eliminating their causes – lack of economic opportunity, lack of practical education, low self-esteem and/or mental health problems.
“Let’s create job-skills training/retraining programs, intense cognitive-based drug abuse mental health treatment and home-based social interventions, such as peer-to-peer or mentor-peer relationship building. Let’s stop expecting law enforcement to solve the problems alone, we all have a role to play,” she added.
The non-party candidate also hit out at the regulation, or lack thereof, of financial institutions. “No longer can we tolerate cronyism, nepotism and political favoritism.”
Bird continued: “We need to understand that foreign investment is drawn by the quality of the workforce and the quality of life Ireland can offer, not lowered tax rates. Corporate taxes need to be collected fairly across the economy, not lowered for a chosen few.
“We, the voters, can choose to make government work for us, or we can allow it to continue ignoring us. We can assert our right to control our present – and future – or we can surrender it to others. We can assert our right to be heard and heeded, or we can just go along to get along.
“It’s time to stop our political insanity. It’s time to take the reins of our runaway present and advance toward a sounder future.”