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At The Courtyard function room of Ferns tonight, in a meeting buzzing with anticipation about the forthcoming by-election, Sinn Féin has unanimously selected local man Johnny Mythen to be its champion.
The meeting was well attended, along with Wicklow TD John Brady, and several past and present local councillors, who spoke in support of Johnny Mythen. They included current Cllrs Fionntán Ó Suilleabhán and Tom Forde, and former Cllrs Anthony Kelly, Marie Doyle, and Mick Roche.
Johnny Mythen shocked the local and national political establishment in 2016, when he came within 31 votes of knocking out the sitting Fine Gael party whip and local government minister from Dáil Éireann.
Previously, Johnny was also the last Cathaoirleach of Enniscorthy Town Council, and was elected to Wexford County Council in 2014. He is also a former ESB worker and member of the UNITE trade union national negotiating team.
In accepting his nomination, Johnny Mythen said “this is not about me – it’s about you. If we want change, no one else can do it. It’s the common people who will deliver a free Ireland for all.”
He continued that 1 in 4 TDs are landlords, and 1 in 2 are millionaires, and asked “who do you think they are going to write the laws to favour?” He then compared voting for Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil as being like a tree voting for an axe “because it thinks that because the handle is made of wood, it must be on the forest’s side.”
TD John Brady said that the prospect of a united Ireland was closer than in generations, and “is within our grasp – we musn’t let it slip away.”
Mythen was proposed by former Enniscorthy town councillor Noirín Sheridan, and seconded by former New Ross County Councillor Oisín O’Connell. He was the only nominee from cumann around the County, and received a unanimous show of hands.
In accepting the candidacy, he said:
“We are different from other parties. We do as we say. We work against corruption. We stand for unity, equality, and the common good. We stand proudly shoulder to shoulder with young and old to build a better Country: where citizens’ needs and prosperity are at the heart of decision-making. If elected by the good people of County Wexford, I will represent my county with pride and carry out my civic duties to fulfil the wishes and needs of all the people to the best of my ability.”
Speaking after the formal process was concluded, Mythen focused on some specific policy focus points he will advance if a TD for Wexford; including housing, youth mental health services, employment, the cut in road budgets, fly-tipping, and infrastructure – such as an “imaginative” development of Rosslare Port. He also pledged to use his campaign to highlight what he called the scandal of “insurance companies scamming the public.”
Regarding housing, Mythen pledged to focus on “workable solutions here and now”, and said he would hold the IDA’s “feet to the fire” if it did not deliver enough jobs for Wexford. He said that in addition to “stringent” by-laws on fly-tipping, he would also argue for greater state-supported options to “re-use, reduce and recycle” waste. He pointed to the success of Sinn Féin in altering the entire perception of Insurance companies’ “dual rate” and “loyalty penalties”, as well as what he claimed was the industry’s mass exaggeration of fraud for its own benefit.
Mythen said he had gained valuable, pragmatic experience in dealing with officials, as an elected member of sub-committees for Mental Health and Rosslare Port – as well as the Strategic Policy Committee for Economic Development.
He said he also valued promotion of local culture and heritage, and was proud to both serve as a Director of the 1798 Rebellion Centre, and as a member of the Wexford 1916 Commemoration Committee “which put Enniscorthy – and the county – on the map nationally, for its role as the last to surrender in the Rising”. He has played with several local clubs in GAA, soccer and rugby – as well as being a coach to several youth clubs.
Mythen was joined by his wife Barbara, who have lived in Enniscorthy for the past 21 years together – with their now five grandchildren, who he said “constantly inspire me to work for a fair and equal future for all.”