SPONSORED: John Paul Phelan – ‘I have the skills, the passion and the knowledge to be the best possible voice for the people of Carlow-Kilkenny’
John Paul Phelan says the Government has achieved a lot over the past two Dáil terms, but the outgoing TD and Minister of State concedes there is unfinished business.
He lists some the issues he wants brought to conclusion in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency:
*The Technological University of the South East;
*Delivering the MRI and the 75-bed extension for St Luke’s Hospital;
*Delivering reliable high-speed broadband throughout Kilkenny and Carlow.
“Most of the government’s policies are working,” he says. “Several huge and transformative capital projects are underway across Kilkenny. The HSE has now finally included the MRI and extension in their capital plan.
“I want to deliver the MRI and the extension at St Luke’s. We also need to deliver medical cards for the over 70s and provide free GP care for the under-12s.”
Mr Phelan sees the Technological University as crucial to the future of the entire South East. “It will act as a magnet for industry and job creation,” he explains.
“It will help stem the brain drain to Cork, Limerick, Galway and other university hubs.”
He sees the delivery of good broadband as another crucial element in improving the economy and lifestyle of his constituents.
“I want everyone in this constituency to have access to high speed broadband,” he says. “It means people can enjoy a greater work/life balance, industries can thrive in rural communities and people don’t have to sit in their cars to get to work – so it also reduces carbon emissions.”
The TD is passionate about the environment and combating climate change. “We need to make it much easier for people to produce renewable energy themselves,” he says.
“Installation of smart meters and change of planning laws to allow people erect solar panels on roofs are paramount. We need more electric car chargers and to have them installed in every town and village to allow people to have an opportunity to make an impact on reducing carbon emissions and boosting renewable energy.”
Mr Phelan (41) lives in Ferrybank and describes himself as a “proud Tullogher native”.
He was elected to Kilkenny County Council on his first attempt while still a Business undergraduate at WIT and just 20 years of age.
He went on to serve two Seanad terms and was first elected to Dáil Eireann in 2011.
He describes himself as a firm advocate for lifelong learning, having studied at night over a number of years to qualify as a barrister.
He has held many Fine Gael officer roles and was Director of Elections for an EU election. He sat on the joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Law and Defence, was one of the Irish delegates to the Parliamentary Assembley of the Council of Europe and an Irish representative on the Irish-British Parliamentary Assembly.
In 2017 he was appointed Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Electoral Reform.
Mr Phelan, who married Claire McTernan in 2018, is an avid GAA supporter – both club and county – and played hurling and rugby until a few years ago.
“To relax, I love to read,” he says. “Mostly I like factual material and I have a passion for everything political, and historical in particular.”
He is seeking re-election because “I love what I do and feel I have the skills, the drive, the passion, the commitment and the knowledge to be the best possible voice for the people of Carlow-Kilkenny.”
Asked about the key challenges facing the constituency over the next decade he says: “We need more housing and more infrastructure. We need this to cater for our growing population. We’ve achieved lots – particularly in and around Kilkenny city but we need more.
“I would fight for even more centralised funding for local development. We need a greater emphasis on work life balance. We have increased parental leave, yet we need to do more.
“We need to give more back to pensioners and children. We can tackle this by implementing the Slanitecare all-party policy for the future of healthcare in Ireland.”