The latest addition to the Sinn Féin election team was unveiled this week, as Bundoran businessman and Town Councillor Diarmaid Doherty joined the party. He is widely tipped as a serious candidate in the party’s future strategies.
Diarmaid was born in Bundoran. The second youngest of seven children, he attended St Macartan’s National School and finished his education in Ballyshannon Technical College. He is married with four children and one grandchild.
In 1977, with work in short supply, he travelled to Germany and Holland where he found work on building sites. Returning to Ireland in 1978 he served his time as an apprentice joiner.
By 1982, with work once again in short supply, Diarmaid emigrated to England and worked on building sites around London and the surrounding areas.
Diarmaid said: “I remember arriving in London, I was only there a couple of hours when I met up with a whole crowd of lads from Bundoran, Ballyshannon and Leitrim. Unfortunately, it is much the same today, with many young people having to go abroad to get work, now most have to travel even further afield.”
In 1984 he married Jill (who has been branch librarian in Bundoran since 1992) and in 1990 they returned to Bundoran. For the first two years Diarmaid travelled back and forth between Ireland and England, but by 1994 he had an established a small building company.
Diarmaid now runs a B&B with a small shop and last year took over a bar he now employs up to 20 people at the height of the season.
Diarmaid is also very involved in the local GAA. He was Chairman of Bord na Og for five years and has for the last three years been chairman of the ladies club and manager of the ladies team.
He was raised in a what was traditionally Fianna Fail house but by 2004 Diarmaid had become disenchanted with Fianna Fail politics and stood as a non–party candidate in the local elections. Although not elected, he was encouraged by the significant vote and decided he would be better prepared for the 2009 elections.
Diarmaid was approached by representatives from Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to run as a candidate in the 2009 elections. At that time he had established a close working relationship with the late PJ Branley, whom he much admired for his work in the community and the peace process and was becoming more involved with Sinn Féin politics.
After much deliberation Diarmaid ran again as a non-party candidate and was elected to the 4th seat in Bundoran Town Council. During his first year on the council he was elected as vice chairperson and is a Director of the Board of Water World and Vice Chairman of the Policing Board.
During his time on the council he has had very positive feedback from members of the public and has worked tirelessly on both local and national issues. He had worked closely with Sinn Féin on several issues and found the party very generous with their time and resources. After frustrating years advocating progressive republican politics as an independent, the natural course led him to join Sinn Féin. He felt he wider support of the party and republican family will mean a stronger voice in representing the people of Bundoran and south Donegal.
Diarmaid is a strong advocate of Sinn Fein’s progressive policies on job creation, investment in communities, something he has always worked hard to achieve and their stance on drugs and anti social behaviour as well as their opposition to public service cut backs.
Diarmaid said:” it has only been a week since I joined Sinn Féin, but the welcome and feedback I have received has been fantastic. The network of party activists on the ground makes me very confident that together we will be able to provide a first class service to the people of south Donegal, both locally and nationally. Working with Pearse Doherty, Micheal Colreavy and my party colleges Micheal and Sean, I know we will achieve great things.
“Being aware of the advanced level of preparations the party has made towards the Local Elections in 2014, I am confident our policies will provide a good alternative for the people of the Donegal Electoral Area and I look forward to playing a key role in that. Having had to emigrate on several occasions, running a small local business and being in daily contact with the people on the ground, I feel I have a good understanding of the issues faced by people in the area.
“It is most likely Bundoran will be without a town council in two years, with this in mind we in Sinn Féin will fight to keep services in Bundoran. We will campaign to ensure that the €2 million in cash reserves of Bundoran Town Council will be spent in Bundoran. We hope to release a Sinn Féin action plan for the area in the near future. I hope that my decision to join Sinn Féin will encourage others to do so. I firmly believe that Sinn Féin is the party which puts the people first, the main reason I joined the party.”