Young and running for politics: Sean Tyrrell

Sean Tyrrell is a 21-year-old DCU student. He is in final year, studying Economics, Politics and law and he’s running as an independent candidate in Ballymun.

He went to secondary school in St Aidan’s, just down the road from DCU and attended primary in Our Lady of Victories on the Ballymun Road.

At present, 211 Local Election candidates across Ireland fall in the 18-35 age category, accounting for 13.7 per cent of the total number of people going forward.

151 (71.6 per cent) of the ‘young ones’ are male, and 60 (28.4 per cent) are female.

Tyrell wants to have “the biggest impact on the most people,” and says that going for public office seemed like the obvious route for him to achieve that.

His family were never particularly political, but Tyrrell was from an early age and mentions Tony Gregory as an inspirational politician that he would hope to emulate.

(Gregory was an independent TD in Dublin Central from 1982 until 2009. He was considered a champion of the working classes and a skilled negotiator. He died in 2009, aged 61.)

“Some people would argue that no time is a good time to go into politics,” says Tyrrell, “At the end of the day, I’m finishing up college in a few months, and I wasn’t going to sit around twiddling my thumbs, waiting for an election to come up”.

Formerly a member of Sinn Féin, he decided to run as an independent candidate and really wants to represent everyone in the constituency, not just young people.

He feels that his desire to question things makes him a good candidate. He proudly claims the scalp of a Labour councillor who resigned his seat after Tyrrell discovered the man wasn’t attending North West area committee meetings.

Tyrrell lodged complaints with the Labour Party office, the office of The Lord Mayor and with the City Manager, “And three days later the man resigned from the Council,” he says.

Certainly, he says he wants to ask the questions that other Councillors might not want brought up and says that he “thinks outside the box” when it comes to politics.

“Expenses should be fully vouched for, you should be able to turn around and ask to see receipts for petrol and things, that’s the fair way to do it,” he says.

How popular this approach will be should Tyrrell get elected is questionable. He wonders why councillors are “getting paid €600 just to turn up to Council meetings,” and maintains that old clichè “look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”.

Whether Tyrrell will refuse the €600 or not, he says he will bring his “economic background” to the Council in May. Despite never having worked in the financial sector, he says that his time spent getting involved with different community groups counts as experience.

Community roots are deep with Tyrrell, who was born in Poppintree and raised in a single-parent family by his mother, who he calls “his hero”. He also has a 16-year-old brother who plays in a band and has no interest in politics.

He has a socialist spin to most of his ideas, claiming “households who earn over €100,000 should be subject to property tax of say, six per cent,” and that the tax should be calculated on income, not on the value of the house.

Property tax should be distributed based on the needs of the area, he says, and he would like to see the Council decide which areas of Dublin need the most money and act accordingly.

What if the Council majority decides to give all the money to their areas?

“That’s the way it falls sometimes, in politics,” says Tyrrell, adding that he would “hope…to fight stupid decisions like that” and admits that sometimes there may be fights he won’t win.

Tyrrell’s biggest fight is mere weeks away, on May 23rd when the community of Ballymun goes to the polling stations.

The upcoming Local Elections will be held on Friday, May 23rd 2014. To find out if you are registered to vote or how to get on the register, go to

Theresa Newman

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