THE NEW Wexford Co. Council will, no doubt, be an interesting entity with none of the candidates more colourful that People Before Profit Allicance’s (PBPA) Deirdre Wadding who is the first openly Pagan councillor in the country.
Cllr. Wadding, a long-term socialist activist, took the final seat in the Wexford district on Sunday night after a long, two-day count. A vocal campaigner, she has made her mark through her work with the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes and was approached by PBPA on the back of that.
She polled an impressive 599 votes on the first count and picked up a number of large chunks of transfers later in the day.
Laughing off the description of ‘white witch’, Cllr. Wadding said that she was one of 20,000 pagans across the country but, as far as she knew, was the only one now serving as a councillor.
“I did ask the Irish Battle Goddess Morrigan for victory today and I have a crow’s feather in my hair as a reminder of her.”
The outspoken campaigner has been in PBPA for eight months but had initially said ‘no’ to joining up as she felt she was better off on the outside. But, she said, at the party launch Richard Boyd Barrett spoke about the people who didn’t want to go into a party and cited them as the people his party really wanted.
“My motivation isn’t that I want to be in the council. I want to affect change from the inside and the outside. I will still be getting involved in people’s problems, whether it’s a matter of civil rights, taxes and charges or anything else. That is my work and it will continue. I fully intend to be out on the street and be active. But it is a bonus that we will also have a voice on the inside.”
While she is part of an alliance made of left-wing socialists, activists and others, she said that at the doorsteps she was often mistaken for an Independent candidate: “We don’t have a whip system and I went into the party as a socialist activist.”
Regardless of being a party politician, if even in the loosest sense of the phrase, Cllr. Wadding said that she was not surprised by the drift towards the less mainstream parties and Independents: “The government did half of our work for us. A lot of what I got at the door was ‘As long as you’re not Labour, Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil’.”
She added that she was a first-time candidate for a brand new party that a lot of people had not heard of before, all factors which made her performance all the more impressive.