Rhode weatherman takes first steps into local politics
Rhode's Cathal Nolan.
He might be most well known for his weather updates online, but Cathal Nolan has just been elected as Chairperson of the Social Democrats Laois Offaly branch.
"A lot of people wouldn't know but my first Masters was in Political Science, and my second in Climate Science. The political one did come first, I come from a family with a pretty strong tradition of involvement in local politics in Offaly," said the Ireland Weather Channel founder.
"I had always seen myself moving in this direction one day and now I feel is the right time for me to become involved.
The evolving political landscape triggered the move according to the Rhode native.
"There's a wider change on within the electorate, we've moved away from this dualist society that was dominated by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for so long, you had the emergence of Sinn Fein, as well as the emergence of other slightly left-leaning parties and that's shaken up the nature of politics in Ireland over the course of the last couple of elections.
"It's a trend I see continuing to develop into the next couple of elections, and if I can contribute in any way to developing the Social Democrats within Laois Offaly, and more broadly across the midlands, that would be fantastic," he explains.
Speaking about the core principles of the Soc Dems, Cathal said the Irish model is about "creating a more just and socially accepted society".
"The aim is to creating a system where those who can pay more probably do pay more. It's pretty progressive in the sense that it tends to equalise the wealth at the higher level back down to a lower level, but certainly it's about the provision of local services where they're needed. While I align with those policies, there are some I would like to develop at a more local level within Laois Offaly and across the midlands as a whole."
"The big issues we have in this constituency are commuting and transport services - the ability to be able to provide the services to people to allow them to work from home as opposed to having to go on long distance commutes. The impacts of measures such as the carbon tax, and the disproportionate effect that has on less advantaged rural workers who are less inclined to be able to afford shifting towards electric vehicles or being able to avail of public transport services which just aren't in existence at the moment in the Midlands.
"This area has been pretty much decimated by Bord na Móna's change from traditional production of electricity in a move towards a more sustainable and low carbon society. Those two areas are areas align pretty closely with my own specific interest in climate issues and policies, and I think that's somewhere I can definitely have a positive input in with regard the Midland constituencies."
Of last week's Budget, Cathal says it was "as good as it could have been" given Covid-19 era we now find ourselves in.
"It was particularly interesting to look at the counter cyclical measures taken this time around as opposed to the more austerity-driven policies that were in effect from 2008 to2014."The main reason behind that is financial policies employed by the European Central Bank, the quantitative easing of how debt is so affordable now whereas that wasn't that case previously. So really the Budget was very positive I would have said from the context of being able to weather this initial storm."
But ultimately in the long term, our debt will still be in the region of about €40 billion higher than it was before Covid-19 and in some point in time that debt will have to be refinanced.