22 January 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Bernie Connolly, current Coordinator of Cork Environmental Forum, has been added to the Green Party ticket in Cork, being formally announced as the party’s candidate to contest the Cork South West constituency.
Ms. Connolly, who previously stood for the party in the 2004 local elections, is the current Development Co-ordinator of the Cork Environmental Forum, a local group founded in 1995 to “provide a forum to engage in debate on current environmental issues and seek agreement on ways of resolving them.” The Glengariff-native, who currently lives in Kilcolman, has spent 40 years living and working in West Cork, says her varied experience and ability to influence & direct policy would make her an effective TD for the region:
“I have experience of working in the public, private and community & voluntary sectors which I feel would stand to me as a TD for West Cork. Community development must be an important aspect of any campaign going forward, and my work with Muintir na Tire, the Matt Talbot Adolescent Services, Dunmanway Family Resource Centre and West Cork Counselling Services have given me insight and experience in community and social issues.
“These have been further expanded by voluntary work with Cork Simon, Sustainable Clonakilty, the Local Food Group & Adult Literacy Tutoring, as well as serving on the board of and working for the Cork Environmental Forum as its coordinator since 2011.”
Ms. Connolly, who had to emigrate to the UK & Australia during the recession of the 80s & early 90s, said that it’s important for TDs and elected officials to be able to empathise & relate to the people they represent:
“In the 80s we saw a lot of people having to move to the UK and further afield for an opportunity at a better life, and we’re seeing it now again. We’ve been fighting for the environment and for biodiversity for years in West Cork, and now you have young people getting really passionate about the environment and the climate crisis. In one way it’s terrible that these issues are still issues, but it means that we know what they’re going through, we can speak from experience when they ask for help, and it means that there are passionate people out there to work together to make sure these aren’t issues for our children and grandchildren.”
Working together and putting common issues before party politics was a key point stressed by the West Cork native:
“Collaboration is a key skill which I have much experience, finding common ground where there is not one person or side losing or one winning, instead doing things better based on sound evidence-based information. We need to work together, while being inclusive of voices from different aspects of our community, to improve the quality of life for everyone.”
Ms. Connolly is the fifth candidate to be announced as running for the Green Party in Cork, joining City & County councillors Lorna Bogue (Cork South Central), Oliver Moran (Cork North Central), Colette Finn (Cork North West) and Liam Quaide (Cork East) on the ticket.