Chairperson, members of the Oireachtas, delegates, ladies and gentlemen. Many of you sitting here tonight have had me turn up on on your doorstep once, twice and three times over the past few weeks at all times of the day, whether it was a sunny Saturday morning or a cold and windy October night. All of you invited me into your homes, offered cup of tea and listened to my reasons as to why I believe I should be selected as your Dundalk candidate. For those warm receptions and good wishes I would like to say thank you.
In 2004, my father Johnny, was running for Louth County Council. I was 14 and had no idea what Fine Gael or Fianna Fail stood for, all I knew was I was out helping my dad. He often likes to remind me that after 6 houses on Legion Avenue, I took half the leaflets off him and started canvassing the other side of the road by myself, that was the first time I knocked on a door for Fine Gael and over the last 9 years I haven’t stopped since. In 2009 at age eighteen, I decided to take a year out. I started to apply for internships and managed to get a 10 month placement with the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool in the run up to the 2010 General Election. In September 2010 I went on to study History and Politics in University College Dublin. During my time in UCD, I was extremely active in Young Fine Gael, taking part in numerous campaigns including the stability treaty and childrens referendum.
On graduating from UCD, I managed to obtain another internship in London, where between April and August 2013, I worked as a Research Assistant for the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. At present I currently intern 3 days a week as a parliamentary assistant with Fine Gael TD, Alan Farrell. All of these internships have been on an unpaid basis but I have been extremely lucky to have had these opportunities which have over the last five years provided me with a wealth of political experience and maturity while also reinforcing my belief for honesty and integrity in public life.
The reason I am getting into the race is quite simple, I see politics as a genuine way to help people. I have grown up surrounded by politics, from a young age I have seen how politics can have a positive impact on peoples lives. What may seem insignificant to one person, may be life changing to another. Whether its helping someone with a sensitive issue, or helping someone get back into education, or indeed helping someone down on their luck find a new job, if that makes that person’s life a little bit easier and allows them to face a new day with hope and not despair, well then for me, that’s a job well done and that’s why I’m getting into this race.
I’m not standing here tonight as Brendan McGahons nephew or Johnny McGahons son, i’m here as John McGahon, my determination, my energy, my enthusiasm will get me elected to Louth County Council. For the last 4 weeks, all the candidates have been working very hard for your support, and at times it may appear as if we are opponents. This is simply not true and the real opposition are those who are preparing to divide us, who embrace the politics of anything goes, well tonight I say to them, we are not a North Louth Fine Gael, or a Dundalk Fine Gael, but we are Dundalk-Carlingford Fine Gael, one family and one team, all of us pledging our support to the Fine Gael party.
That opposition comes in two forms, firstly the Fianna Fail party who bankrupted this country, who left us high and dry while unemployment skyrocketed and more and more young people decided to leave our shores, every family in this room has been touched by emigration and that has been the terrible legacy of Fianna Fail. Secondly we have the Sinn Fein Party, the party of Adams and McGuinness, Dundalk and North Louth know all too well what those two men stand for, they are the leaders of a party who want to make paupers out of the Irish people, who want to send the Irish people back to Germany and the EU with our begging bowls in hand. They are the opposition tonight, not the candidates in this room, because I can tell you one thing this evening, If I am not selected tonight, I will still be out knocking on doors for the candidates chosen, I will still be promoting Fine Gael and I will still do my upmost to make sure we get a second seat in Dundalk for the party.
Our target is to get two seats out of six with one of those seats coming from Dundalk town. Over the last 30 years on two occasions we have come extremely close. Firstly the legendary Councillor Tommy Elmore and Senator Terry Brennan in 1985. Secondly with Terry and my father in 1999. The only way we can stop the revival of Fianna Fail in Dundalk-Carlingford is to take a second seat in Dundalk. The only way we can stop the march of Sinn Fein is to take a second seat in Dundalk. I promise you, if you give me your No.1 vote tonight, I will keep them at bay in Dundalk town and I will deliver you a second seat. I will challenge Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail at every turn.
Delegates, I want you to put me on the ticket tonight, I need your No.1 vote.I will leave no stone unturned. Together we can stop Fianna Fail from taking a second seat, and together we can help stop the rise of Sinn Fein in our own community. In the end, this is what this election is about, do we partake in the politics of cynicism, or do we partake in the politics of unity and walk forward together as a Fine Gael team.
Anyone that knows me will tell you, my honesty and integrity are things I hold dear, I don’t deal in winks or nods, I don’t do backroom deals. I am John McGahon and I am asking you to place your trust in me, put me on the ticket tonight and ensure a strong result for Fine Gael in North Louth, we want no less than two seats. I am asking you to recognise my energy and vision for a new political era in North Louth, let me work for you, the Fine Gael members, and I will deliver a seat in Dundalk to go along with the rural seat we have held for 40 years.