Cllr Martin Harley
Confirmation is expected this (Thursday) evening that Donegal County Councillor, Martin Harley, will announce that he is to contest the forthcoming general election.
Speculation has been mounting in recent weeks that Cllr Harley will join Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh on the Fine Gael ticket after his impressive showing in the recent county council election.
The Ballybofey-based businessman not only has strong ties with the entire Finn Valley region due to his ten years on the council but has family roots in his native Frosses area in south-west Donegal.
He has also proven an able and experienced councillor with a proven track record and a work rate to match any.
“I love my job and my county and I would really love to take it to the next level. I have a proven track record of a strong work ethic and I am a team player thus I would love for people to put their faith in me,” he said.
A native of Frosses was educated at Frosses N.S and the Abbey Vocational School in Donegal Town. On leaving he took up a position with An Post in Dublin and worked there for a number of years before returning to his native county and came to work with the company in the Twin Towns.
There he met his wife, Denise, and settled in the area and became very active in the community through his work, drama, sport, voluntary and community groups and of course, politics.
For the past 10 years Cllr Harley has represented the Lifford-Stranorlar Municipal District with great enthusiasm, has a healthy appetite for solving local issues and representing the people of the area.
He has stated on many occasions that his door is always open to members of the community who have a query or who seek advice on different issues at any time.
"I have been and will continue working on all issues in the area from roads, housing, water, infrastructure, community schemes, walks and tourism projects and anything that helps this area thrive. I also think it's time east Donegal and the Finn Valley in particular had a TD, it's something we badly need and with Brexit around the corner and the need for job creation in this area, a strong voice fighting our corner is long overdue," he said.
In the last council term he served as leas Ceann Comhairle and was a member of the Planning and Community and Culture strategic policy committees
He was also elected to the position of chairperson of the Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB).
In the election last May Cllr Harley topped the poll in this area with 1,688 first preference votes and was elected on the first count. He has since been appointed to a number of important council committee for the new term of office.
"Since the election in May I have come under pressure locally, on a county-wide basis and from party officials national to consider running alongside the Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD in the next general election.
"I have been giving the matter serious consideration and following discussions with my family, my supporters, the party locally and more broadly, I think the time is right for a challenge like this.
"There are plenty of issues I feel I could work on if I was elected a TD including flood relief works for the Finn Valley, Donegal Town and all through county that need addressed immediately; the need to develop a town park for Ballybofey and Stranorlar; the need to keep our community hospitals including St Josephs, Lifford and Ramelton so that their future is secured and funding provided in each budget to staff the facilities.
"I would also keep pressure on the government and the judicial system tackle insurance fraud and corruption that is closing businesses every day.
The claims culture in Ireland and excessive payouts that are five times higher than other countries in Europe and that is wrong," he said.
Cllr Harley added if added to the ticket his other priorities included the completion of the treatment plant in Stranorlar and ensure the €6 million investment was in place to cater for a potential 12,000 houses which would allow the towns to grow into the future; the development of the Twin Towns bypass so the traffic problems could be tackled and ensure that the people affected directly by it be reimbursed appropriately for any loss.
He added he wanted to see the council and the government move forward with more greenway projects in the county to help attract tourists and especially the one between Ballybofey and Donegal Town. It was going to be situated along the old railway line. It would help to encourage tourists to visit the centre of the county as well as the Wild Atlantic Way.
"As you can see there are many challenges and also many opportunities for this part of Donegal and indeed all areas. If I enter the race I will be fighting for centre, west, south and south-west Donegal if the constituency is carved up on a geographical basis but you can take it I will also be fighting for all of Donegal and making sure we get our fair share now and into the future," he said.
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