Two Clare natives have been appointed to high profile positions with Ógra Fianna Fáil following the party’s conference which took place at the Westgrove Hotel, Clane, Co Kildare. Ballyea man, Eoin Neylon was elected as President of Ógra Fianna Fáil while Newmarket on Fergus native, David Griffin was chosen as Munster Organiser.
The Munster Organiser is the representative of all Ógra members in the Munster region on the Central Office Board. Griffin’s role also entails working with the grass roots members from County and third level institutions to effectively recruit and promote the party as well as trying to make sure that Ógra Fianna Fáil is representative of young people in the province.
Speaking to The Clare Herald, David Griffin outlined his vision for his term as Munster Organiser. “I would like to see Munster Ógra playing a pivotal role in the upcoming referendum campaigns, giving us an opportunity to try and connect with the electorate and promote Ógra in a positive light. I also want Ógra to be active in canvassing and promoting candidates in the upcoming General Election, youth, enthusiasm and a fresh approach is what Fianna Fáil needs as a whole to advance”.
Despite not having a seat on the Ard Chomhairle, Griffin is of the belief that due to the six seats filled by Ógra on the National Executive, there is regular contact between Ógra and the top brass of Fianna Fáil which gives Ógra a voice at the top table.
To date, eighteen year old, Griffin has already an abundance of experience with the political party. He spent a great deal of time canvassing in the recent local elections for both Louise Roche Mc Namara and Cathal Crowe. He is currently the treasurer of the Clare Ógra branch of Fianna Fáil. A past pupil of St Caimins Community School, Griffin was the former chairperson of the Students Council of the Shannon school whilst also serving as captain of the school’s debating team under the guidance of Niamh McDonnell who participated in the Concern Debates.
Griffin is currently studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Limerick and has decided to take the politics route as he feels he can help in Ireland’s recovery. “I have decided to take the politics route because I believe that as an individual I can play a role in the come back of Ireland as a nation. I also think that the young population of Ireland are hugely under-represented and disillusioned with politics in general. I can see a role for not just me, but for many other young people throughout the country to tackle this issue head on”.
Looking towards his political future, Griffin admitted his main desire is to get on the Fianna Fáil ticket for the next local elections. “I would love to be given the nomination by the party to run in the next local elections, but I would definitely have plans to run in a General Election sometime into the future, but for now I am concentrating on my new role as Munster Organiser for Ógra Fianna Fáil.
Ballyea’s Eoin Neylon will take up the mantle as President of Ógra Fianna Fáil, a multifaced role which involves media relations, coordinating via the Central Office Board aswell as lobbying the party leader and parliamentary party on policy and running campaigns.
Speaking exclusively to The Clare Herald, Neylon explained what he hopes to achieve during his tenure. “In this term I have a mandate to change our organisational structures in the 6 counties to mirror those in the Republic. This is with a view to running candidates in elections there in 2019. There is also an unprecedented opportunity for Ógra to be heavily influential on policy as the party looks to write its General Election manifesto. Ógra will be out in force to lobby the senior party in many areas. There’s also several campaigns to run, most urgent being one to get young people to register to vote by November 25th ahead of the Marriage Equality referendum next year”.
The self-employed business contractor with MBN Construction LTD is hopeful his past experience will be of benefit to him. “I have previously been a member of the Fianna Fáil National Executive in 2007/08 and again from 2013 to present. In this time I’ve investigated the #nekdonate Blood Donor campaign as well as writing a Seanad Reform Proposal ahead of the winning anti-abolition campaign in the Seanad referendum. Througout this time I’ve lobbied hard for policies that are environmental, sustainable and promote civil liberties, social justice and equality of opportunity, particularly in education”.
Neylon is determined to maintain the positive relationship that exist between Ógra Fianna Fáil and the top brass of the party. “Ógra have long been a driver of positive change within Fianna Fáil. The party’s policy on things like environmentally friendly policies, support for Marriage Equality, banning the accepting of Corporate donations and political reform. This is a trend I am keen to see continue. The Fianna Fáil leadership has been good throughout my time in the party to listen to the opinions of Ógra and take our ideas on board. I hope that this term will see an even heavier influence Ógra will have on party policy, especially heading towards the next General Election”.
According to Neylon, this is a position he has been striving to get to for a number of years and he is intent giving the Presidency his all. “Leading Ógra was something I’d given thought to on a couple of occasions in the past, however, living in the UK, where I was forced to move for work, meant that I would not have been able to give the job the commitment it deserves. Having not been selected to run in the locals meant that I was free to focus my energy on Ógra. I’m delighted that the members of Ógra have trusted me with the responsibility to lead the organisation”
Both Neylon and Griffin are quiet satisfied with Fianna Fáil’s current structure in County Clare. Neylon considers Fianna Fáil’s Clare branch to be one of the strongest in the Country. “Fianna Fáil in Clare has one of the largest number of members of all the CDC’s (Constituency Units) in the country. There’s great activity of the membership around election time and throughout the year for various events like the Ard Fheis and, as seen last weekend, the National Youth Conference where Clare Ógra had one of the largest delegations. There’s also the annual De Valera Commemoration which takes place on November 30th. There is a call from members for more meetings of the various units of the party to better facilitate policy discussion and I would definitely welcome that. Only by doing so can we develop truly representative policy platforms”.
Griffin was of a similar opinion to Neylon as he pointed out the strong repuatation Clare has within the political party. “As a County Clare is very well represented throughout the national organisation. we are one of the best represented CDC’s in the Country with 2 seats on the COB (mine and newly elected Uachtaran Eoin Neylon) as well as being one of the best represented constituencies on the Ard Chomhairle with 4 seats, in addition having our own Timmy Dooley as Vice President of the party”.