Community campaigner Sinéad Stewart intends to end the 'boys’ club' in Donegal County Council.

Sinead Stewart

Inishowen native Sinéad Stewart has announced that she will be running for election this May.

Stewart, who is from Burnfoot and lives in Buncrana, has been endorsed by Thomas Pringle TD as she seeks the mandate of the electorate to sit as an Independent Councillor for South Inishowen.

Commenting on her candidacy, she said: “I look forward to the upcoming campaign, and to the challenges that lie ahead.”

Donegal County Council currently has three female councillors out of 37 local representatives.

Stewart said she wants to be a voice for women at the table.

She said: “It is worth noting that politics in Inishowen and across Donegal down the years has been very much a boys’ club. There has been a small handful of women – but they have most often been constrained by and sold on the old party lines designed by and for men.

“The perspective of women in our political structures is critical for our whole community to thrive – when the voices of half of the population go unheard and unheeded it stands to sense that we’re left in a pretty rotten place. I know the issues that are passed over as a result of strong, progressive women being absent from the table.

“I want to provide a check on that – to start to change the culture on our council to be more welcoming of women – and for 2019 to be a turning point for women in Donegal becoming equal authors of our county’s future.”

Inishowen Together for Yes

Stewart currently works in technology and is studying Politics, Philosophy & Economics. She has been at the forefront of social justice campaigns in the county and beyond including the Anti-VRT campaign, Right2Water and Repeal the Eighth, and is an active member of her Trade Union.

“As a committed community and political activist for many years, I believe that that experience has me well placed to make a very valuable, positive change to people’s lives,” she said.

Issues that Stewart intends to focus on, she said, are housing, environment, funding for local services and making sure that Donegal is not left behind post-Brexit.

In her election campaign, she said she will focus on progressive change:

“With the new electoral boundaries, the number of councillors for this area has been reduced to five. It’s more vital than ever that a real alternative to the establishment political parties should step forward. We simply can’t face into another five-year cycle of ‘business as usual’ in Donegal County Council, which has been beset by tired, cosy alliances and too few questioning voices – this holds us back from progressive change and positive action being taken to the benefit of all in South Inishowen. There is a lot that County Councillors can do – and in my work, I will be ambitious for this district and this county.”

She added: “I’m honoured to have the endorsement of Thomas Pringle TD and am very grateful for his support and encouragement.  Having Thomas’ support means I will have ready access to have your issues brought straight to the Dáil chamber.

“I look forward to meeting as many people as possible over the course of my campaign.”