Ten years after he last served on Roscommon County Council, former Fianna Fáil councillor Tony Waldron has dramatically declared as an Independent candidate for May’s local elections.
The decision of the well-known businessman and community activist to step back into the political cauldron adds spice to an already intriguing Roscommon Municipal District contest.
Mr. Waldron, who donated his entire Council salary of €80,000 to the Hub project in Castlerea when he was a councillor, says he is motivated by trying to help develop County Roscommon’s rich tourism potential.
Mr. Waldron was elected as a Fianna Fáil councillor in the Castlerea electoral area in 2004 and did not seek re-election in 2009. The Ballintubber man, who ceased being a member of Fianna Fáil some years ago, says he is not running for party political reasons.
“I decided on Monday, after careful consideration, to declare as an Independent candidate. I’m not running on a party political platform because it’s not about Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin or any other party; it’s about County Roscommon. We need to work together and do what’s right for Roscommon.
“I want to support the creation of employment in Roscommon by marketing County Roscommon as a tourist destination and a place in which to do business. If that means that we have to go it alone and promote Roscommon then that’s what we will do”.
On the very successful archaeological digs hosted in Ballintubber in recent years, he said: “Columbia College, New York and Foothill College, California have spent a month every year exploring the ruins of Ballintubber Castle. They have come year in, year out, such is the magnetic force of Ballintubber and the broader community.
“If we can replicate this, which I strongly believe we can through further development of the Suck Valley Way, historical tours and the promotion of the area as one of the thrones of the High Kings of Ireland, then we will start to see a significant boost in the number of tourists coming to Roscommon”.
Mr. Waldron said that during his tenure as a county councillor from 2004 to 2009 he had donated his entire Council salary – €80,000 – towards the Hub project at Castlerea Enteprise Centre.
“I’ve been a community activist all my life” he said this week. “The reason I donated my salary to the Castlerea project was because I wanted to encourage enterprise in our area. By donating my salary I was able to make a tangible difference through the Hub project. Now I want to make the same difference in the area of tourism.
“I also want to play my part in increasing the amount of inward investment coming into the county. We need to market Roscommon as a place that’s open and easy to do business in. Our improved road network allows people to get to major urban centres in between an hour and two hours. Our local authority needs to promote our beautiful county as a place in which to do business…where the IDA has failed.
“With the huge cost of living in Ireland’s major urban areas, people are now looking to get out of city living and return to the country to experience a massively increased quality of life”.
Mr. Waldron says that having confided in a small number of people since Monday, he has received a lot of support for his forthcoming campaign.
He will host an election launch in Garvey’s of Ballintubber on Saturday, 13th of April next.