Paul Lawless, Aonthu election candidate from Knock.

Mayo junior footballer sets sights on local elections

A 27-year-old school teacher from Knock, Paul Lawless, has been selected as a candidate by Aontú to run in the Claremorris local electoral area in this May's local elections.

Aontú is Ireland's fastest growing political party, created by Peadar Toibin TD.

Paul teaches maths and PE at Ballyhaunis Community School. After playing soccer for Mayo, Connaught and the Republic of Ireland at underage level, he achieved a professional contract with Derby County FC. This led to him attaining a scholarship to study a BE.d at UCC, and an M.B.A in the USA. He is currently doing a post graduate in mathematics in his spare time.

Paul plays Gaelic football for both Aughamore GAA Club and the Mayo junior football team.

Paul felt compelled to get involved in local politics to address the regional development imbalance which is hurting Mayo.

He said dissatisfaction with how Mayo has continuously being left out of government investment and the devastating impact this has had on his generation of friends has led him to get involved in local politics.

“I have grown frustrated with our government inaction in our economy where Dublin overheats and the west of Ireland deteriorates. I am tired of seeing numerous young people in our county being forced to move to Dublin and abroad to seek employment,” he said.

“The last straw for me was the disastrous running of our health service and the abuse of our hospital staff. Despite an overrun of over €1 billion in the National Children's Hospital along with over 700,000 patients on waiting lists, Fianna Fáil continues to support Fine Gael and keep Simon Harris as head of the Health ministry.

“When our two largest parties are supporting each other at the behest of their members and indeed the public at large, this is very unhealthy from both a democratic and transparent point of view.”

Paul was drawn to Aontú due to their leader, Peadar Toibin, who, he says, has shown great vision and determination in creating a party that will truly put the needs of the public first.

“Many impressive people have joined the party across the county and I am excited to join a crop of energetic, determined candidates in this new ambitious party.”