Councillor defends decision to contest elections in Kilkenny AND Waterford
By SHANE DORAN
A KILKENNY councillor who is fighting to win a seat on Waterford County Council has defended her decision to contest separate elections in different counties.
Ferrybank-based Melissa O’Neill is an Independent representative in the Piltown Municipal District and is looking to retain her seat on Kilkenny County Council in next month’s local elections.
But she is also running as a candidate in Waterford City West, which covers part of Ferrybank.
Cllr O’Neill admitted her decision has “shocked” most people, but she argues there’s nothing in the rules preventing her from contesting elections in two counties.
And she claims that as someone who has been living in Ferrybank and working on “both sides of the bridge” [over River Suir] for the past 13 years means she’s well qualified to represent the people on both sides of the boundary.
Cllr O’Neill told KilkennyNow.ie: “This is all about trying to bring people together before the North Quays [regeneration project] leaves the people of this community behind again.”
She described Ferrybank as being “a no man’s land” that has been ignored by the both of the councils she is now seeking to be elected to.
The former Sinn Féin councillor insists most people living on either side of the boundary in Ferrybank, once they’ve got over their “shock”, are “delighted” with her decision to contest the election in both counties.
She said: “It’s all about the region and delivering regional services to the South East. The lack of services in the South East compared to the rest of the country is massive.”
However, Cllr O’Neill has refused to say which council seat she would choose in the event that she is elected in both counties.
“I’ll let you know when the votes come in. I’m not telling you that right now,” she said.
Part of Cllr O’Neill’s election campaign, in both constituencies, is being run on an anti-EU platform.
There was controversy earlier this year when Cllr O’Neill launched her campaign at the Rhu Glenn Hotel, an event that sparked a backlash from some groups. At the time Cllr O’Neill claimed staff at the hotel were subjected to “abuse” and that some protesters who turned up at the event had to be ejected from the venue.
The event was attended by Irexit founder, the former journalist Hermann Kelly who is now Director of Communications for the EFDD Group in the European Parliament, which has close links to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.
However, Cllr O’Neill today insisted she is “not affiliated to any party” or group.
She revealed that another similar event will be held at the Rhu Glenn on May 1 at 7.30pm, but she declined to confirm who will be attending or speaking on the night.
“We’ve very highly educated people coming on the night, but you’ll have to turn up to find out,” she replied when pressed on the matter.