An interview with election candidates Sophie Roker and Jessica McLoughlin

Today we are delighted to interview two of Ireland's up-and-coming political generation, Sophie Roker and Jessica McLoughlin!

Congratulations on helping to set up the "Kildare Says No" protest group, now closing in on three months active! What made you decide to get involved with the group to begin with?

Sophie: It sparked an interest with me as I’m very local to this particular site at Newhall and I have two young children so I’m fully aware of what families in the area are going through. I know myself the pre existing problems in the area and I couldn’t believe they were proposing a site of that magnitude beside of village of 1006 (population in last census). We have problems in Kildare across the board in the vital sectors, Naas Hospital is under enormous pressure, there were children in the locality who couldn’t get school places last year and not to mention the difficulties people of Kildare are having with finding housing.

Jessica: I decided to get involved because I am a concerned parent and I have family and friends and neighbours that needed questions answered and nobody would answer those questions


What would you say the response of people in the locality has been to your setting up the group - on a personal level, do people stop you in the streets or would you be recognised?

Sophie: For the most part the reaction has been positive in my opinion. There are a lot of people who agree with what we are doing and why we are doing it, even if they haven’t been attending protests. There are people who have negative things to say about it, and my opinion is that those people haven’t actually listened to what we are saying or why we are doing what we are doing, they just have a pre conceived idea of people who are protesting. I have been recognised a few times because of this.

Jessica: The response has been positive in my experience and yes I have been stopped in the street.


What has your experience been in terms of support from your political representatives on the local and national level, or have they given you any feedback at all?

Sophie: We haven’t received any support or feedback from any sitting councillors or TDs in our area. A variety of group members wrote to local politicians and heard nothing back from most. Not one elected representative came out to speak with us or engage at all. These are the people who are supposed to “represent” us, however they don’t even want to hear what we have to say.

Jessica: They have given us hardly any feedback and most of them none, we have been mostly ignored and people have been told not to interact with us.


And how about public bodies, the local authority, the guards, how have they responded to the protest and to yourselves?

Sophie: For the most part, An Garda Siochana have been fine with us. No one has caused any trouble for them, so they have to cooperate with us to an extent. Kildare County Council engaged with us at a basic level because we kept hounding them for answers.

Jessica: They don’t like our protest but they cooperate at their level.


Running for office is quite a challenge on several levels, what made you decide to take that step?

Sophie: I decided to run in the local elections as I’m fed up of the same political parties not looking after the people of our area. I have heard lots of stories of people in the area who are struggling through Kildare Says No and this has sparked me on further to run in this local elections, as I want to be a voice for these people in the locality. I want to fight for the people and bring politics back to the people.

Jessica: The lack of genuine honest people in office right now and the lack of communication with the people of the community.


What would you say are the main benefits you intend to bring to the people of Kildare, if elected, and how would you like to realise these benefits?

Sophie: The main benefits would be my drive and determination to ensure the people of Kildare are listened to and fought for in a genuine and honest fashion. People’s concerns and issues have been pushed aside for far too long. I want to help people as much as I can.

Jessica: The main benefits would be transparency, meeting and helping people on their level because we are seeking a lot of answers too around the way our communities are being run.


Have you considered affiliation with one of the political parties, or has anyone approached you to run as candidates yet?

Sophie: We are certainly not interested in party politics. We have been approached and turned it down. We don’t want to align to anyone’s agenda, we are genuine, honest people and want to continue that way.

Jessica: We were asked about joining a party but it didn’t interest us.


How confident are you about winning this election?

Sophie: The polls seem to be showing a growing interest in independent candidates, however it’s hard to know. The responses on the doors have been good but we can only wait and see.

Jessica: I’m not thinking about it.


Longer term, would you like to go to the Dáil and represent Kildare at that level, and if so what would be your goals?

Sophie: Yes absolutely, I would most definitely be running in the general election for Kildare. I believe in the Dáil the right independents could make a huge difference. My goals in the Dáil would be quite similar to the goals I have on a local level, however in particular my focus would be on housing, hospital waiting lists and overcrowding, assessment of needs and CAMHS waiting lists, lack of mental health services and the government’s role in the cost of living crisis.

Jessica: Of course, growing and climbing the ladder gets your voice and the people you are speaking for heard louder.


Is there anything else you'd like to add for our readers?

Sophie: If you want a real voice for you and your community, vote Sophie Roker and Jessica McLoughlin 1 & 2 for Clane LEA on June 7th. We have no agendas, no interest in political titles or ego boosts, we are concerned mothers who want to make a positive change for the people of Kildare. We will fight for change to an old broken system, the outdated politics of Ireland are not working anymore.

Jessica: We are confident about one thing for sure, that if we get elected, we will do everything in our power to help as many people as we can because right now the old system is not working and it needs to change now.

 

Article originally published on: Tuesday 4th June 2024

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