If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed. This seems to be the philosophy behind one councillor’s unique plan to look after his electorate.
Earlier this year, Newtowncunningham man Paul Canning bought himself an old school bus, took out the seats and converted it into a fully operational working office with a desk, chairs and a filling cabinet, to travel throughout the area meeting and helping people whereever he can.
“It’s my way of bringing politics back to the people. I intend start at my end of Inishowen in Manorcunningham, Newtown, Carrigans then I’ll make my towards Burt, Muff and down to Moville before hitting other areas in the peninsula.”
Cllr. Canning intends to spend two days in each town and spend two or three hours in each area.
However the Newtown man is not expecting a warm welcome straight away.
“I think people will take a while to get used to me in the bus, but I think it is important to be seen in a town. Often politicians and representatives hold clinics in towns and not everyone will know about them because not everyone reads the same newspaper, but if I’m parked in the centre of a town, I’ll be hard to miss.
“I just want people to pop in and say hello, and I’ll be staying there whether people come in or not,” laughed the Fianna Fail Councillor.
A qualified architect, Cllr. Canning believes he can help people on a practical basis as well as with council business.
“There are a lot of people who don’t even know how to fill out forms and as we all know forms are getting more and more complicated.
“I think I’ll be able to give professional advice to do with planning as much as local politics. I’m not out looking for votes, I’ll just be there helping people where I can. It’s just about getting the information out there.”
Straight-talking Canning plans to be out on the road before Christmas and one thing’s for sure, he’ll be visiting a town near you soon.
Cllr. Canning was co-opted onto Donegal County Council last March when fellow Fianna Fail politician Charlie McConalogue was elected to the Dail to serve as a TD after narrowily missing out on the seat in the 2009 local council elections.