Deirdre Forde “If we are not striving for positive change, then we are not in the right job”
The Councillor at Cork County Council and the Committee of the Regions on her future objectives and the upcoming administrative changes in the Irish administration
- February 05, 2019 11:30
- Aseniya Dimitrova
Deirdre Forde is a Councilor at Cork County Council and a Member of the Committee of the Regions from Ireland since 2016. A member of Fine Gael for 10 years and a former Director of the National Building Agency, Deirdre has also worked for the Bank of Ireland for more than 18 years and served two terms on the Board of Governors of University College Cork.
Councillor Forde, your term at the Cork County Council is already coming to a close. How do you evaluate it and which major achievements would you like to mention?
The 5-year term 2014/19 is coming to a close and I have mixed feelings about it. Mainly due to the fact that my area will be leaving one local authority Cork County Council and joining a cork City Council. I have really enjoyed being on Cork County Council and met many colleagues and staff whom I admire and worked well with on various projects for the enhancement of the region as a whole.
However, there have been serious challenges in latter years given the uncertainty around the extent of the boundary change.
You describe your job as a blessing and clearly you are full of energy and dedication to the work of a local representative. Do you accept politics as a vocation or has there been something in particular in your life which led you to choose this career?
People enter politics for many reasons, I hadn’t any grand designs on a political career when I was asked to join a political party and found all that goes with that very stimulating. I particularly enjoy and get my energy from interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. I am competitive by nature and I love to get projects ‘over the line’ whether it’s a project locally or sorting complex or simple issues for the people who elected me.
You are running for office in Cork City Council in the upcoming elections in May. What are the three main objectives you would like to achieve as a Councillor in the next five-year term?
The three main objectives are:
- To help my constituents integrate as smoothly and efficiently as possible with the City and to ensure continuity of service and focus on overall needs challenges and opportunities.
- To help develop the newly enlarged Cork City achieve maximum growth of business from the small retailer to the many corporate entities, in collaboration with our educational institutions and statutory agencies. To ensure it remains the second city outside of our capital Dublin.
- To provide appropriate infrastructure, social and cultural, to help our citizens and visitors achieve a better work/life balance whatever their age and to consult them in designing their sense of place. I.e. greenways, amenities, climate action.
If re-elected, you will be moving from the Cork County Council to the City Council as part of the administrative expansion. What does this change represent to you and what challenges do you anticipate as a consequence?
There have already been challenges as there has been a reluctance to put resources into an area which would be ceded to adjoining authority. A huge amount of officials’ time has been taken up with negotiating the number of staff and geographical area to transition (at a cost to other services) and of course the financial compensation, however, equally there will have to be a trust and relationship building exercise with our new local authority which will take time to bed down. Getting to know new constituents and areas takes time, however, we are all professionals and have to keep in mind we are there to be of service and hopefully financial resources will allow us deliver and meet expectations.
Based on your extensive political experience, what is the positive change that you consider impossible for politicians to bring about?
If we are not striving for positive change in all aspects of our work, then perhaps we are not in the right job. All things are possible if we bring the people with us and for the common good. Climate action is one such issue for our and future generations. The impossible can become the possible I.e. The power of one lead by community and political leaders.
Finally, how would you evaluate the necessity of a portal that compiles the best practices from the European municipalities, and which aims to keep the citizens informed about the latest developments in local policies, such as TheMayor.EU?
A specific interactive portal which could alert and inform citizens of interesting and innovative practices from other European municipalities would have to be promoted well and should ideally appeal both to ordinary men, women, young people as well as community and political and educational leaders.