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Thursday 22 August 2019

'People respect me, they don't fear me' - SF hopeful Holohan

Sinn Fein Canditate Paddy Holohan canvassing for the local elections in Tallaght.
Sinn Fein Canditate Paddy Holohan canvassing for the local elections in Tallaght.

"Paddy Holohan, number one!" comes a shout, as a driver rolls down his window and calls out to the retired MMA star who is hoping to pack a punch of a different kind in the local elections later this week.

The Herald is with Paddy 'The Hooligan' Holohan (31), who is canvassing in Jobstown, the area in which he grew up.

He has stepped out of the octagon to run with Sinn Fein in the Tallaght South constituency for a seat on South Dublin County Council.

As we walk, he mentions his mum a number of times, how it was her advice to him as a youngster that kept him on the straight and narrow.

Tamed

She always told him that the wildest horses are the best ones when tamed.

Paddy Holohan chatting with Liverpool FC player Glen McAuley in Jobstown
Paddy Holohan chatting with Liverpool FC player Glen McAuley in Jobstown

Getting that message of discipline and honest living to the next generation is now on his own to-do list.

"My mam raised me well. 'It's not where you live, it is how you live'. I was very lucky," he told the Herald.

"I wouldn't have been able to get a visa for America if I'd have had a [criminal] charge.

"If I'd have been caught with a bag of weed at 17 or 18, I would have gotten a drugs charge and my career would have been gone at 18 years of age. Your career doesn't even take off till you're 25.

"We need to look at sensible things, not criminalising these things - because if my future is f**ked at 18, I'm like, what's the point?"

Another car comes down the road, and this time it stops. The window is down, so Paddy quickly recognises the driver: it's Glen McAuley, another local sports hero.

Just 19, McAuley plays for Liverpool under-23s and scored two goals in this year's league campaign.

Paddy is visibly chuffed to see Glen getting on so well - but Glen, also a redhead, jokes that it was Paddy who put the gingers of Jobstown on the map.

As we go further into the estate, a few more fans of Paddy show up.

Local children playing on the road hop on their bikes to follow him like the Pied Piper.

They ask him to sign his leaflets and he poses for selfies. Paddy tells them to be proud of where they are from.

He begins to explain how youth engagement will be a big issue for him if he is elected, and tackling prejudice against people in council estates.

"There are 5pc making a bad name for 95pc," he said.

"If you make little fires, they create bigger fires and as I said, people make assumptions about these places.

"But these places are full of people of real spirit - the people who ruined this country were in suits, not tracksuits.

"I know because I grew up with prejudice like that.

"If you're from Jobstown and on holiday in Spain and someone says, 'Where are you from?' and you say 'Dublin' and they say, 'Oh, Dublin, sound. Where in Dublin?' And you say 'Jobstown', it's like, 'Oh'.

"I run a 10,000sq ft martial arts facility that I funded myself with my own money, called SBG Dublin 24, it's not far from here.

"People come in and as a fighter, you're close to your senses and your emotions, and if someone walks in a room that is angry, I know.

"I've used that to inspire some of the youth in my own actions. I have 100 kids already in a programme working with me.

"I am one of those kids who grew up. People respect me; they don't fear me. Respect lasts forever."

He talks about how a new Olympic-standard BMX stadium will be built here this summer and about the great work already being done in the locality.

Scumbags

He attended a ceremony for local teens who won Gaisce president's awards with Citywise, a support service that is not getting the recognition it deserves, according to Paddy.

Breaking down the stigma of being from a council estate is another issue.

Paddy would like to see a housing solution in which homes are mixed in terms of affordability, rather than segregating estates into public and private

"People are thinking, 'Let's take this field and build loads of houses on it'," he said.

"And it is a council estate again and that creates classes.

"I know because I have lived in it - this is Jobstown on this side of the road, then this is a private estate, Springfield, on the other side.

"We were the scumbags; they were the posh kids."

He doesn't want people to judge a council estate and assume that the people there don't have a job or pay rent.

"There's no such thing as a free house," he said.

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