Joe Biden, credit: Gage Skidmore

Sep 4, 2020 | Ireland, Politics | 0 comments

Atakan Uzun Announces 2024 Bid for Election to Cork City Council

Joe Biden, credit: Gage Skidmore
John Hunter

Written by Atakan Uzun

Atakan Uzun is set to run as an independent in the 2024 local elections. Here he outlines what he hopes to achieve should he be elected.

10min Read
John Hunter Mobile

Written by Atakan Uzun

10min Read

Atakan Uzun is set to run as an independent in the 2024 local elections. Here he outlines what he hopes to achieve should he be elected.

My name is Atakan Uzun and I am 20 years old. I grew up in the Northside of Cork with  my parents and have lived here for my entire life. I am running in the 2024 local elections as an independent candidate, without any party involvement or backing, hoping to get a seat on the Cork City North-East ward. I am currently studying BSc Government in University College Cork, having attended St. Patricks’ BNS in primary school in my local area and my local community school, Mayfield Community school in secondary school. 

My main motivation behind running for election comes from the fact that the Northside has lacked representation from all of the main parties, past or present, for too long and has grotesque levels of inequality. The Northside has huge potential but this is not demonstrated due to the lack of the willingness of parties in government to increase investment in the area. 

Another motivation behind running is quite similar to my previous point, but it is the lack of care that the main parties have for my area. 

Over the years elections have gone by and very few of the main parties have ever even canvassed us, even a single time. This shows just how out of touch they are with ordinary working class people who lack representation. 

Political commentators continue to wonder why turnout in Ireland is decreasing year after year, particularly in the local elections, but it is clear to me that this is because of how out of touch the main parties are with the concerns of the ordinary people. I aim to change that by giving people in the North-East ward a reason to turn out and vote, to give them a platform for change. I believe that by running for election I can make a difference and end the stereotype that all politicians work for themselves and not for the people that they represent. 

The following issues are most important to me: Health, education, housing and reversing cuts to disability and social welfare over the years. 

These issues are of huge importance to me and I will work to the best of my ability for the people of the northside of Cork. If elected, I will work hard to achieve all of my aims stated below. One thing that I can promise to you, the people, is that I will not be a nodding dog for the historically largest parties in Ireland, which have time and time again ignored the concerns of the disadvantaged communities in the northside of Cork.

Health

The lack of adequate health facilities in the Northside, particularly in my local area, is hugely dissatisfying. Currently, despite the great potential and having one of the most educated workforces in Europe, we have a lack of appropriate health facilities in the Northside. Firstly, there is not a single hospital in the northside of the city and the closest hospital for anyone to access is the Mercy Hospital. Compared to this, the Southside of the city has several adequate hospitals which are overcrowded with huge waiting lists. In order to reduce and stride towards ending the waiting lists that we have in hospitals across Cork, my aim is to put pressure on Dublin to provide a strategy towards the development of a public hospital in the northside of Cork city. Time and time again, politician after politician has promised a hospital in the Northside of Cork. What I am promising is to actively lobby the government to produce a strategy towards the development of a public hospital, whether it is through motions in Cork City Council, or through other work. 

Secondly, the Northside does not have a single SouthDoc facility to care for patients who require emergency healthcare at weekends and during bank holidays. Therefore, the closest SouthDoc for anyone in the Northside is likely the South Doc facility on Kinsale Road. This has a severely negative impact upon people who do not have access to a motor vehicle, not to mention those who must rely on our inadequate public transport system in Cork. 

This is particularly problematic for the elderly and vulnerable, who require emergency health care. If elected, I aim to lobby the government on reversing all closures of SouthDoc facilities across the Northside and to instead reopen a number of facilities in order to reverse the grotesque levels of health inequality. 

Education

An area which is of huge importance and intrigue for me is the area of educational disadvantage, something I personally experienced in attending a DEIS secondary school – Mayfield Community School. Whilst the school had great facilities, a particular problem is the huge disadvantage faced by students trying to enter third level education. 

Firstly, they have to achieve the points for each individual course of their choice in third level and have significant deficiencies compared to their counterparts in private education, who have better access to grinds through their financial wellbeing and better access to study areas. In the event that someone achieves the points for their preferred course they face financial disadvantage through tuition fees which have built up over the years, without any dissent from senior management in universities who have supported the marketisation of higher education. Many people over the income threshold needed to access the SUSI grant face having to pay up to €3000 in total for tuition fees for each college year. Even if you are entitled to the SUSI grant, the cuts to the grant over the years have been deeply dissatisfying and these cuts need to be reversed. I aim to work with students, particularly in the Mayfield area, and help them in their process with the SUSI grant application. I also aim to lobby the government on increasing the SUSI grant, and to ensure there are no further cuts. 

There also needs to be an increase in the funding of DEIS schools in order to bridge the gap that exists within our education system. Last, but not least, I will lobby the government on increasing opportunities for students in the Northside, in areas such as carpentry and mechanical trades.

Housing

The lack of affordable rental housing is another area which is of huge disadvantage to people in the Northside, let alone anyone who is trying to buy their own house. On the contrary, people who wish to rent a corporation house face significant waiting lists of several years. There are many empty houses, which have slow turnarounds to be given to people on waiting lists. As I walk around my local area, time and time again, I see empty houses which are not occupied and have slow turnaround times before being granted to people on the housing waiting lists. In order for us to improve the situation, turnarounds need to be faster and waiting lists need to be scrapped. 

As well as that, the lack of construction of affordable public housing on public land  in the Northside is significantly dissatisfying. I aim to put pressure on the Irish government to give more decentralised powers to local authorities to take charge in the area of the building of public housing on public land, rather than contracting it out to private developers whose aim is to make a massive profit and who charge extortionate rates which price families, single and disadvantaged people out of the market. I also aim to put pressure on the government to implement a rent freeze of a minimum of up to two years and a cap on the price of housing. This would ensure that housing becomes more affordable and regulates the market to ensure that it does not continue to spiral out of control.

Cuts To Disability And Social Welfare

The cuts to disability rates over the years have been deeply disappointing, particularly for vulnerable people. From my own personal experience, I know a relative who had been granted disability only to be means-tested relative to her spouse’s income, which was not particularly high either. Therefore, it was expected that my relative would have to live on minor income from disability each week and would struggle to pay the bills with such low income. I connect this, with the cuts to disability over the years, and would hope and work to the best of my ability to ensure no further cuts to disability and rather an increase in disability. These cuts always have the most negative impact in disadvantaged areas such as the Northside. In the area of social welfare I aim to lobby the government on increasing jobseekers’ benefit from its current levels and also to increase the provision of maternity leave. 

I will work to my utmost, to ensure no further cuts to disability, rather an increase in the provision of disability, increasing the provision of maternity leave, increasing jobseekers’ benefit and the social welfare budget overall and funding this through taxation. 

If elected, I can promise you that I will work to the best of my ability, to deliver change for the people of Cork City North-East. For too long, politicians have time and time again, promised a lot and delivered only minor change. In this case, I would like to conclude, that the one thing that I can promise you, is that I will always work on behalf of the people, be accountable to the people who I represent and always work to the best of my ability, to deliver change for the people of Cork City North-East to the best of my ability.

 

The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author, Atakan Uzun, and do not necessarily reflect the views of TheCurrent.ie.

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