Danielle O’Rourke is a 22 year old Election Candidate for People Before Profit and is a also a graduate from UCD. She will be running in the upcoming election which takes place on Friday 24th of May.
Hi Danielle, tell us a little bit about yourself.
So my name is Danielle O’Rourke. I’m a local election candidate for People Before Profit in the Killiney/Shankill Lea. I am a young woman and I’ve been involved with People Before Profit for a little under two years now. I’ve just finished up a degree in science in UCD and I went to Laurences secondary school in Loughlinstown. I got involved in politics through the Access centre in UCD. I used to work with them as a Future You and Access to Education Mentor which is something that’s really important to me. That’s how I ended up here and it’s a big part of who I am now!
Why do you go into politics?
Mainly my work with the Access Centre. I presented at the European Access Network conference in UCD about attainment levels between different classes and on social economic levels. That really brought home to me the inequality that still exists in Irish society. The other big thing that got me involved was of course the marriage equality campaign in 2015 and the Repeal campaign just recently. I was majority involved with my local Branch on the Dun Laoghaire Together for Yes campaign and we are now Dun Laoghaire Together for Choice and Equality. We are a volunteer network and we organise events and aim to help in areas of inequality within the community.
Why do you think it is difficult for women to enter the world of politics today?
This one is a loaded one because there is quite a lot of factors that play into it. One of the things that might seem very trivial is the process of putting together election posters. As a woman there is a lot more pressure to look a certain way or to dress a certain way than there is on our male counterparts. So for example we would have to get our hair and makeup up done whereas males would not experience the same pressure. It’s a small example but it epitomizes the landscape for women in politics and how women are judged more harshly than men in all aspects of what we do. There’s an organisation called ‘Women for Election’ that do a lot of great work on this and release a lot of helpful information. One of the other issues for women in politics is childcare. It can be very difficult for women to get childcare when you are campaigning and indeed working as a councillor. A couple of my colleagues who are women and councillors find it difficult to get childcare. As we know, there’s still a stigma surrounding women speaking their minds and having opinions on things. Still! In 2019!! It’s a combination of all these factors which discourage women from going into politics but as I said organisations such as ‘Women for Election’ are covering great ground and are really encouraging women to go into politics. We should recognise that this is really important issue which affects us all!.
Why do you think many young people are reluctant to vote?
I think young people are reluctant to vote because a lot of us have been disenfranchised by the political world. A lot of the time it has been ‘adults’ making the decisions and we as young people have been belittled when we talk about politics. Thankfully, over the past two campaigns, for Marriage Equality and the Repeal Movement, we have seen an upsurge in young people becoming politically active and getting involved which is amazing! We had a huge percentage of young people registering themselves to vote for Repeal so hopefully we’ll see that reflected in the upcoming Local and European Elections. To go back to the question, I think generally the reason why young people are reluctant to vote is because we are disparaged and disenfranchised from the political world which we shouldn’t be because we are a very politically engaged group of people as we can see from the climate strikes recently. Young people are more engaged and are becoming more politically active. These things affect us at the end of the day, as with women in politics, especially with issues such as climate change. These are issues that are we are inevitably going to reap the effects of, whether good or bad. We need to make the important decisions on these and hopefully we see that going forward in the next elections.
What do People Before Profit represent?
It kind of is what is says on the tin! We put People Before Profit! One of our original slogans when the party was founded was ‘For People, Community and Environment’. We aim to support the people, the community they live in and our environment over corporate entities and profit making. We are a socialist party which not a lot of people would know. We value people over the making of profit. We stand for a lot of different things but it’s pretty much summed up in the name!
One of the things that many people are concerned about is Climate Change. Do you think the government are taking the threat seriously enough and if not what needs to be done?
Personally, I don’t think they are taking it seriously enough. For example, there was recently a majority report published from the government while we (People Before Profit) published a sperate minority report. One of the things that was quite stark to me in the report was the governments line on climate change stating their support for the school strikers and their insistence that they will tackle climate change but at the same time they have issued another licence to explore for gas off the coast of Ireland. Its very hypocritical. Their approach is more individualistic rather than system change. We, at People Before Profit advocate for system change rather than individual change. We see this issue recently with the switch to Electric Vehicle’s but not providing for cycle lanes. This is not the approach we need at the moment. One of the government’s next recommendations is a carbon tax which on the surface level seems like a good idea but when you look into it a carbon tax does not reduce the amount of carbon emissions that we need. 71 % of emissions are created by 100 companies alone so it is not the individual that is the problem. We don’t have any option other than putting petrol or diesel in the car. Electric cars simply aren’t viable for a lot of us. This individualistic approach from our Fine Gael/Fianna Fail government isn’t working and they are finding ways to benefit themselves rather than making the important changes.
What would be your message to the students striking for Climate Change?
My message for them would be to Keep going and Keep at it! They’re amazing! A couple of them were speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on Climate change recently and they were so informed and passionate! They are getting the right attention and showing people that they are not going to stand for the inaction on climate change.
I know you were heavily involved in the Repeal Movement, how was that?
Overall, it was good and we got the result that we wanted. However, the fact that we had to fight for it so much was really, really difficult, as was the campaign itself. There was times when I came home that I’d be really upset because of the things that were said to me. It was my first time canvassing so it was sort of Trial by Fire! I had people at their doors shouting obscenities at me, calling me a murderer and other awful kinds of names. I definitely don’t get that now canvassing for Local Elections which is brilliant! It was quite an emotionally tough campaign. Some of the people I campaigned with have had abortions and had been in that situation. Overall, I’m really glad it happened, and we have finally joined the rest of the world.
Ireland has obviously come a long way over the past years, but what else do you feel needs to be done to make it a more inclusive society?
Well where to start!!To continue I’ll link in with the question on the Repeal campaign, out of the nineteen possible maternity services to offer abortion only ten of them actually do. This means people are being left behind, particularly those in rural communities which is not okay. We need to work on providing a full service for those living in rural communities. Another issue is Direct Provision. A lot of people who come here, fleeing all sorts of different things at home are being kept in direct provision. I’m not the best person to speak about it because I haven’t experienced it but there’s lots of people out there who have so I’d suggest reading up about it. It simply needs to be done away with and we need to start treating people like human beings. Another obvious issue is the housing crisis which went from being a portion of our case work to nearly 90% of it. We have families coming into our clinics who are homeless and who have been pushed from pillar to post with HAP tenancies. Last year, there was a vote to put a piece of public land on a list to be sold off to raise money for capitol. We held a protest outside and the vote lost by one or two votes. It was then added to the list to be sold off. This was public land that was zoned for housing! The more I became involved in politics the more incensed I got at the lack of action from our county councils on this issue. At People Before Profit, we have a policy to never vote to sell off land meant for public housing. We need the government to start putting money into the local councils so that we can actually build houses!
What is your opinion on the current political regime?
Our government are wedded to the idea of the Private Market solving our problems. Not just in housing, although I could go on about their ‘solutions’ to housing. An example that came up recently in my colleagues Dave O’Keeffe and Melisa Halpin’s ward in Sallynoggin was a local creche closing. Instead of putting a state run or publicly funded creche in to meet the needs of the people in the community they were told to wait for another private creche to pop up. Meanwhile, these families are left with nowhere to leave their kids. Another local development, Honeypark, included planning permission for a creche that has yet to materialize. The government are giving money to private landlords rather than just building houses. A figure recently emerged that the government spent 1 billion euro on HAP, RAS and leasing and purchases from private developers over a couple number of years and yet not a single brick to show for it. Logically and morally, the government’s approach is wrong and simply doesn’t work.
It would perhaps be inappropriate to let this interview pass without asking about your opinion on Trump and Brexit. What do you think are some of the reasons for the election of Trump and Britain voting to leave the EU?
I think a lot of it comes from people becoming disenfranchised by the political landscape. With regard to Trump, I think we have a similar case here in Ireland with Peter Casey. They are seen as people ‘who speak the truth’ but they simply don’t. They play on this reactionary platform and say whatever they think will get them into the news and its working! Our media and journalists are taking the bait. Peter Casey was last in the presidential race and then he says something really derogatory and horrible about travellers and suddenly he’s in second place. He’ s sort of the Trump of our situation. Saying reactionary things and getting into the media so your name is out there and playing to its effects are really not good!
With Brexit, I don’t think anyone knows what going on. At this stage, I’m not sure what would help or where it went wrong. Multiple different factors lead to the shambles that we are in today. At the end of the day it’s the people who a losing out and one of the positions that we are strong on is that there will not be a hard border on this island again. We cannot do that to the border communities or indeed Ireland. It would be completely the wrong move. Ireland is being used as a chess piece in this game that Britain and the EU are playing and its not fair to the people of our communities to be screwed over by this whole situation.
What are your aims for the future?
One of my aims is to put the needs of the community first. I want public land to be used for public and affordable housing. There’s a conception out there that PBP just want Social Housing and there’s multiple views on this that we could get into. I still live in council housing and have done all my life but our main ethos is to build social and affordable housing. One Affordable Housing Scheme that came down from government to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown was rejected unanimously because it simply wasn’t workable. It wasn’t affordable and excluded people that had to move out of the area due to high rents. These kind of schemes that come down from central government are coming from people who have never had to live in a council house or lived in our communities. They have never had to risk homelessness due to missing a paycheck. We need people in government who have dealt with these issues and who live like the majority of us do. We need people who are passionate about changing the situation and who are not reliant on the private market, as this clearly doesn’t work. There should be people pushing for schemes that actually work and that help people and that’s one of my own aims. I want to leave the world better off than I found it.
What would be your message to the young people of Ireland?
My message to the young people of Ireland would be to keep doing what you’re doing. Get Involved, Get Angry about these things. The majority of us are in low paid or unstable work. We are either living at home or pay incredibly high rents and being squeezed at every opportunity. Landlords can decide to sell up and often we are forced to go homeless or move back in with family if we have that option. We need people who care about how our planet ends up in the future. We need people to advocate for ourselves and for our communities. So get Angry and get Involved!
Finally, why should people vote for you/People Before Profit?
I think that people should vote for me because I have a tonne of ideas, a tonne of energy and I’m dedicated to our community. I’ve grown up in Shankill and Ballybrack and have lived there all my life. I know and love our community and feel I can help right some of the wrongs. We need to actually get things moving and start helping the people who need us. We need to start moving forward to ensure that people can lead a decent life. That’s why I would advocate to vote for me. I have some policies you can read up about on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and also have a website, danielleorourke.ie which is populated with a few things I believe in. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
Thank you very much for joining us Danielle. Good luck in the election!