Dublin Gazette interviews SF’s new Fingal councillor

by Rose Barrett
0 comment

Rose Barrett

Last week saw Angela Donnelly of Sinn Féin co-opted by members of Fingal County Council to replace outgoing SF councillor, Aaron O’Rourke.

Mr O’Rourke resigned owing to work and time pressures. Now SF has the first all-female council team and of course, the only female TD in Fingal is SF’s Deputy Louise O’Reilly.

Cllr Donnelly will represent the Ongar Local Electoral Area, with Cllr Ann Graves (Swords), Cllr Natalie Treacy (Castleknock) and Cllr Breda Hanaphy sitting on Blanchardstown/ Mulhuddart area.

Born and reared in Sheriff St, Angela and husband Paul, sitting TD for SF in Dublin West, lived in Summerhill, before the couple moved to Blanchardstown in 1995.

Together they raised their family, four children aged from 17 to 32 years.

“I surprised myself when I agreed to put my name forward for Aaron’s council seat,” said Cllr Donnelly. “It is a difficult role, and especially so for women. People treat women differently in office from men, and often the abuse or criticism is far more personal to women.”

Her husband Paul has served on Fingal County Council for two terms, and was elected to Dáil Eireann in 2020.

She has been engaged with Sinn Féin from her early twenties and with her husband actively involved in local politics for the past twenty years, the newly co-opted councillor felt this was a natural progression for her. 

Cllr Angela Donnelly, SF, recently co opted to Fingal County Council

“I’ve worked in the bookmaking industry all my professional life, from cashier up to operations manager but I’ve always been politically active, and involved with SF for decades.

“I was asked to stand for SF in the local elections in 1998, but I had three young children then so I didn’t think it feasible – so Paul stood instead in the bye-election.

“I enjoyed working in community groups in Blakestown back then; we organised a community policing forum and established the Blakestown Mountview Community Drugs Team.

“I’m currently working with Boyle Sports where I will be finishing up in two weeks’ time to assume my councillor work. Previously, I worked with Ivan Yates and Celtic Bookmakers as operations manager but I felt the time was right for me, for a new challenge.

“My mam Monica passed away three years ago – an incredibly strong woman and a big influence on my life. My youngest child Senan is 17 so the timing is good for me and I know I’m capable and familiar with a councillor’s role.”

Politics is clearly a bit talking point in the Donnelly household.

“Mealtimes at ours are always weighted with political topics. We hone our debating skills at the dinner table!” said Cllr Donnelly.

She was proposed by Cllr Ann Graves and seconded by Cllr Breda Hanaphy at the March monthly meeting of the council, and welcomed by the Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Seána Ó Rodaigh.

Cllr Donnelly then thanked Aaron O’Rourke for his service to Fingal County Council since he was co-opted two years ago and added: “It is amazing to be part of a council team which now has four female councillors. To have an all-woman team is very special.”

Cllr Donnelly was also appointed to the Transport and Infrastructure Management Strategic Policy Committee, the Joint Fingal and South Dublin Liffey Management Advisory Committee and the Hansfield Strategic Development Zone Steering Group.

An historic day for Sinn Féin, Cllr Ann Graves was delighted to see Ms Connelly co-opted and to join the SF team on Fingal Co Co.
“Angela is a long-time member and activist with SF and has been very involved in local and general election campaigns.  She represented the party at the Glencree peace and reconciliation centre during the peace process negotiations and was very active in SF’s women’s group, facilitating a highly successful conference on women’s rights.

“When the current Dáil was established, only 36 of the 160 elected deputies were women – that’s less than a quarter while SF has a solid 35% representation of female deputies. WE are striving to reach 50/50 but we will build on this and 100% in the council chamber is a great start!”

Cllr Graves and Cllr Hanaphy welcomed Angela to the SF council group and noted: “Fáilte agus beir bua Angela, tá an áthas orainn tú a bheith sa ghrúpa agus tá a fhios againn go mbeidh tú i do chomhairleoir iontach.”

Cllr Tracey was disappointed that she could not attend the council meeting as she unfortunately tested positive for Covid. Best wishes to Cllr Tracey for a speedy recovery and to Cllr Donnelly in the next chapter of her life!

PHOTO – Cian and Senan Donnelly with Mum Angela and Dad Paul, Kerrie and Seán.

Related Articles