Lisa McGrath has been nominated by the March4Tipp group to contest the local elections in may.
Lisa has worked with Youth Work Ireland Tipperary for 15 years and is now using her experience and instinctive nurturing of our young people to create a better future for them.
Nationalist Correspondent Caitriona Kenny spoke to Lisa about her intentions and what she would like to achieve if elected.
“I started working in the information office and enjoyed working with young people so I decided to do the Diploma in Youth and Community Work in Cashel. I got so much from that learning that I went on to complete my Degree in Youth and Community Work in UCC, while working with the organisation. I am very lucky to be working in such a nurturing environment not only to the young people but also to the staff and volunteers. I recently completed the Creativity & Change course in CIT. It’s a Level 9 Accredited Special Purpose Award and supports workers to creatively engage and nurture young people to get involved in global citizenship and get involved in empathic action around local and global justice themes.
Lisa has been an active member of March4Tipp since the beginning and with a keen interest in social justice and the development and future of our youth… is standing for local elections the perfect fit?
“I have always been interested in social justice, always critical of the wealth and power divide, which is forever growing wider. Over the past few years I have been very critical (albeit among my own circle of colleagues, friends and family) of how Ireland’s capitalistic greed is edging out our socialism at the expense of our State assets and heritage, but more importantly our most vulnerable in society. Living in Tipperary, I have seen over the years the effect the constant neglect by successive governments has had on our town. We are a town with such potential and none of it is being nurtured or even explored. When I heard about a group that wanted to take things into their own hands I couldn’t resist. I had never been part of a campaign before. I had, of course taken a keen interest in national campaigns such as marriage equality and had seen how people power could work. I was completely blown away by the groundswell of support for #march4tipp. Thousands of people marched not once but twice looking for change. The next step in our campaign is to change how things are done in relation to local politics. I felt it would be hypocritical of me to not to run for local elections. After all our mantra is, “actions, not just words”. I’ve always admired people who can walk the talk. I have always believed in the power of people, particularly people who work together to achieve a common goal.
We are all aware of the dismal unemployment rates in Tipperary… What difficulties are presented to young people in the town?
“The biggest problem young people face in Tipperary is the lack of opportunities for employment, whether it be a part-time job or career. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to experience college for many reasons. One of the consequences of poverty is leaving school early. These young people feel there is no point; college is something that isn’t spoken about at home. It is not an automatic step in their lives.
Young people, in general, want to get out of their hometown to try new experiences, to meet different people. There are many young people in Tipperary who will never get the chance to do any of this. There are also young people who would love to live and work at home. Due to the lack of employment opportunities in Tipp this is definitely not an option. As a Youth Worker I have seen many projects run by YWIT aimed at supporting these young people and they have been successful but funding has run out and the project ends. As youth workers we encourage and empower young people to have dreams and we support them to realise those dreams.”
Ireland showed how progressive it could be by voting for LGBT marriage in May 2015. Is there more to do for LGBT rights and does this tie-in, with your intentions/plans if you get elected?
“It was only in my thirties that I discovered I was gay. At the time I had three young boys and a wonderful husband. It was a very difficult time but after a lot of support from family and friends we all got through it. I have been married to my wife for almost ten years now and our sons are wonderful independent young men. May 22nd was one of the happiest days of our lives. A time when we realised that Ireland had turned a corner and we as a family felt truly accepted. While we are a very diverse and dynamic nation, there is a lot yet to be done. Young people still have a difficult time; in particular during their time in school. There is still invisibility around acceptability. Many young people are still afraid to ‘come out’ (to tell people are they are gay). According to a recent report supported by YWIT there is still a real fear of physical violence among the young LGBT+ community. As a youth worker who has worked with LGBT+ young people I hope that if I get elected I can help draw attention to and try to address some of the needs of this vulnerable group of young people.”
What life experience can you bring to the role of being a Candidate?
I’ve always had a love for the stage, be it musicals or drama. I’ve been treading the boards for 25 years now. It all started with the Tipperary Pantomime with Paddy Ryan. I graduated to the Musical Society and was part of GoldStar who performed Summer and Christmas Cabarets in Aherlow House for many years. Recently I have been very lucky to play a part in Jim Keane’s Play ‘A Living Will’. I also believe that being involved in drama is important for young people and their self-esteem. I have been involved in Star Stage School for many years encouraging young people and helping to improve their self-confidence. Being involved in drama can be so beneficial to them as they grow up.
What are the best things about Tipp town and what it has to offer?
“Tipperary Town in a town rich with history and heritage. It also has a great community spirit that needs to be nurtured and encouraged to flourish so that the town can reach its full potential. Its community spirit was very evident last October and again in December when thousands came out for March4Tipp and demanded change. I think Tipperary has woken up… as a people we are alert to the injustice we have suffered and are now ready to take control of our own destiny. We want to leave our children a positive legacy; a legacy of hope, of a town working together and thriving and a community “doing it for ourselves”.
What are your three key issues that you would like to work towards for Tipperary Town if you are elected?
“We all know the problems that we are up against. It’s time now to work together to find solutions. It’s time for transparency in how we serve our community. There is only one promise I can make to the people of this town and its hinterlands; as a community candidate, myself and my fellow community candidates care about one thing – what’s best for Tipperary!”