Galway’s youngest councillor wants more young people in politics

“Every day has been a school day,” says Albert Dolan, the youngest representative of Fianna Fáil in the country, who says he wants to get more young people involved in politics.  

“There are 39 councillors in County Galway and only two of them are under the age of 30. I think that says a lot in that. Young people are not represented at the local level. And that’s why we see the lack of facilities for our young people.”

Being a councillor for almost three years, Albert is interested in housing, community grants, and initiatives but, says young people need to be part of the conversations.

Now, he is encouraging younger people to get engaged with local politics so as to have more influence on the future of the area they are living in.

“I think in the future, there needs to be consideration given to not just gender balance, we also need a better record representation across age groups as well. I think that will lead to better outcomes for our entire population.”

Elected on 26th May 2019 at 20 years of age, he was elected Councillor of Galway East in Oranmore-Athenry constituency after the first count, which makes him the youngest Councillor in the West of Ireland.

Named after former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, Albert was born and raised in Monivea County Galway. After graduating from high school in Athenry, he pursued his studies at the National University Ireland Galway (NUIG) in a Bachelor of Commerce with a specialization in accounting for three years.

He was introduced to politics at a young age through his grandfather, father, and sister. “My father ran for election. And then my sister got involved in Ógra Fianna Fáil in the university she studied at, Dublin City University. And when I went to university, my sister said she had such a good time in Fianna Fáil. I said I joined it over curiosity.”

Due to Albert’s family background, his involvement in politics is expected. However, it was not his initial choice.

“Throughout secondary school, I never felt like going to politics. I had a great interest in public speaking. And I also am a natural people person, so I get on really well with people, and I found that I had an ability to speak.”

He thought of the power of small changes, the difference that he could make in his community, and the issues that Fianna Fáil were tackling which mattered to young people and to communities.

“I had that self-belief and confidence that I could get elected, that I could do it so that’s why I ran.”

However, getting his name out in the Galway East constituency was not easy. “You definitely have to work harder to articulate your views better so that you can be heard so that you can better represent the people.”

People did not believe in him due to his younger looks and his lack of experience. “So definitely, there were a lot of people who didn’t think I could do. And a lot of people said to me that I wouldn’t do it. Sure enough, I proved to them that I could do it. And I did it.”

He had to go through long hours of work and be persistent during his campaign.

“For the maybe 90 days in advance of the election, I canvass door to door every single day for a few hours to meet as many people as possible to have conversations, discussions, and debates. And to really just put my best foot forward and in doing so. I also combined with that a very strong social media campaign to outline my agenda and my ideas for the future.”

But the result was rewarding not only for him but for his entourage.

“I was over the moon. That was really like a lifetime experience to be elected and to be successful. After months, months of hard work and engagement with the community and to have their support. I got elected on the first count which was a massive achievement. And it was such a proud moment for my family and for myself.” 

His term ends in five years, but he says he is willing to continue as a local representative of his community in the years to come. He says, he is “constantly learning, constantly gaining knowledge and understanding of how things operate on the local level”.

“As long as the community is happy with the job I do and I’m happy with the job I do. I don’t think that I’ll give it up.”

For the time being, he is training to be a chartered accountant alongside his councillor job.

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