Vodafone has an IoT (formerly known as M2M) heritage spanning two decades. Ciarán Galway visits its Leopardstown headquarters to discuss moves to develop and disseminate smart solutions for Irish cities...
Seán Kyne TD
A graduate of both NUIG and UCD, former agri-environmental consultant Seán Kyne TD was first elected to represent Galway West in Dáil Éireann in 2011. The Moycullen native is currently serving as Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources.
How did your political career begin?
I was asked by the then Deputy Pádraic McCormack in May 2003, to consider standing in the local elections for 2004. After a lot of thought and following support from the three local branches of Fine Gael in Moycullen, Killanin and Oughterard, I decided to follow my long time interest and seek a nomination. I was elected by 48 votes in that election, doubled my vote in the 2009 Local Elections, and, following an unsuccessful run in the 2007 General Election, I was elected to the Dáil in 2011. I was elected by a margin of 17 votes so I know how much every single vote counts. I was subsequently re-elected in 2016.
The support of my parents, family and friends, as well as the local Fine Gael members, Deputy McCormack, and of course, my wife Avril, has been crucial in all elections, but especially so in that first election back in 2004.
What are your most notable achievements to date?
As well as the many representations that I have made for constituents concerning all sorts of issues and areas, there are a number of achievements which stand out for me. One has been my involvement in the opening of the first ever fire station for south Connemara in An Cheathrú Rua. Another has been the upgrade of the main national road through Moycullen with vital safety improvements.
In terms of the Oireachtas, I’m glad to have been able to contribute to a range of policies and strategies. One example is the bill I published to enable families of Irish persons who die abroad to secure an Irish death certificate. I was delighted to see the broad thrust of this bill included in the Civil Registration Act of 2014.
As Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, I have a wide range of issues relating to the Gaeltacht, An Ghaeilge, Ireland’s natural resources and so forth. Notable issues to date include the resolution of the Aran Islands transport problems, the launch of the first ever Gaeltacht Education Strategy – which I believe is critical to the future of An Ghaeilge as a community language – the securing of extra funding and staff for the implementation of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language, as well as realising the potential of our natural resources including inland fisheries, angling, and geoscience activities.
How can the Oireachtas better engage with rural Ireland?
I think that rural TDs are very much engaged with rural Ireland as it is a requirement of their jobs. The TD is the link to the Oireachtas in rural Ireland. There is a huge awareness in rural communities of politics with TV, local radio and newspapers providing a lot of news and commentary on political issues. The Action Plan for Rural Ireland, launched last month, is a very significant plan with over 250 actions that will help support towns and villages across Ireland. I know that action plans are sometimes greeted with scepticism but the Action Plan for Jobs has changed this. By identifying the steps that need to be taken, and by clearly stating the points of responsibility for achieving these has supported the creation of over 190,000 new jobs since 2012.
“We need to continue to promote Galway and Mayo for their positives: the talented young people; the internationally renowned university; and the energetic and innovative Institute of Technology.”
What is unique about representing Galway West and Mayo South?
Galway West and Mayo South is a vast constituency representing parts of two counties including the major Gaeltacht region in Connemara as well as Galway City, the Aran Islands and Inishbofin. The constituency faces every conceivable challenge including growth and the pressures it results in including on health, housing, education, transport, communications, as well as issues of peripherality, accessibility, population decline, as well as growth, and isolation.
What are your priorities going forward?
Like any TD I want to see the country and my constituency grow and prosper. In Galway West and Mayo South a new emergency department at University Hospital Galway is a top priority as well as the new bypass of Galway which is vital for both the City and Connemara in terms of quality of life, economic development, access and tourism growth.
I want to see the potential of all of Galway and Mayo be further realised as well as continuing to make the constituency an attractive place to set up a business, to attract global companies, to go to school, further and higher education, and ultimately as a place to live.
With challenges such as Brexit, the new US administration, various planning decisions – the Apple data centre in Athenry being one example, broadband and other infrastructural issues, we need to continue to promote Galway and Mayo for their positives: the talented young people; the internationally renowned university; and the energetic and innovative Institute of Technology. Following the huge achievement of securing the title European City of Culture 2020, supporting and developing the vibrant local creative industry is more important than ever.
Our rural towns like Ballinrobe, Clifden and others need to see benefits of incentives included in the Rural Action Plan, such as town centre living which will bring vibrancy back to town centres.
What are your interests outside of the political sphere?
I have a great interest in farming and agriculture. I live on a farm and my educational background is in agricultural science. I also like following international politics, current and historic, reading biographies. I find walking and being out and about a great source of relaxation.