‘Independent for Change’ Tracy Cullen on why she’s running for council in Inishowen

Independent candidate in this week’s Local Elections for Donegal County Council, Tracy Cullen, has outlined her reasons for running for council for the first time.

Thursday, 23rd May 2019, 3:03 pm
Tracy pictured on the campaign trail with MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and her family.

She writes: “It’s early April, I’m sitting in the car, weary after another hectic day at work, engine off. Wipers rest. I waiting for my daughter and my husband to emerge from the Poundshop. My mobile phone rings, it reads Thomas Pringle. I take a heavy intake of breath and “Hello”. And so it begins. I had refused 2 previous requests to run for Council, for parties, but this time I took heed. Like many others I have been disillusioned by the state of the country and indeed global politics. A real positive light for change for me came from Thomas Pringle, Ming Flanagan and the Independents 4 Change. We had a pretty earnest conversation and it was decided I would give it serious consideration for two weeks tops. When discussing this phenomenon with my close friends and family, what appeared to be something plucked out of the ether, was in fact a conclusion to a logical progression. I had studied Peace and Conflict Studies at college, I had joined and campaigned for the Anti Nazi League, I had become a member of the Socialist Workers Party, I had completed a 6-month placement in Amnesty International, in London. I had worked with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. I have been a member of the Union executive in work for years and a member of the College Equality Working Group. I grew up in a house that focused on politics. My parents gifted all of us over dinner about what happened in Dail Eireann, Gay Rights, Emigration. I thank them for that. I soon realized that every decision is a political decision. And now, being in this position I hark back to conflict resolution, international relations and all the heady subjects from long ago. In the community I have been involved in committees such as Uisce Matters, Failte Inishowen and Environmental Committees. My Mother was also an active member of many committees and campaigns when I was growing up.

Three factors contributed to my decision to run for council.

1. My family upbringing, leading to my education in politics.

Tracy with Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.

2. My beautiful daughter. I look at her daily and feel genuine anxiety for her future.3. I attended the funeral of a dear friend, colleague and co-worker who had been a victim of suicide and thought, I am truly fortunate, I can actually do something. The small things will disappear, the real issues will stay strong.

Going from going door to door I have encountered the real sentiments of the community, the despair over Mica, the disillusionment over the export of our young people, the sheer loneliness faced by our aging population who genuinely suffer from rural isolation. I realized it’s the small things which will effect change. The new business enterprise, the community art exhibition, the afterschool club, the community transport initiative. All of these simple things can roll out on a much bigger scale. It’s important to get it right at the grass roots and to listen to the people. Would I run for Council? Of course I would. I had no choice.”