Political Profile: Alliance Council Candidate Patrick Clarke

This is Patrick’s baptism of fire into the political fray as a candidate for election and he hopes to build on the extensive work he has already been involved in in the community. He said, “I am part of an election team in the Newcastle area which has an average age of 27. I am very interested in community development and I am delighted to hold the position of  secretary of Dundrum Village Association, and a co-ordinator of Dundrum Village Neighbourhood Watch. I joined the Alliance Party because I completely support cross-community politics which greatly underpins their work. [caption id="attachment_23272" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Alliance candidate in the Down District Council election Patrick Clarke is heavily committed to community work. "][/caption] “Recently I recognised a void in the representation for business people and set up Dundrum Business Association to help promote tourism and economic regeneration within the village. I am regularly contacted regarding various local community issues such as securing a new play park for the youth of Dundrum, the provision of a pedestrian crossing, the redevelopment of the ‘Green’ along Dundrum Bay, the provision of increased car-parking along Main Street, Dundrum, and various other local community issues.” But Patrick’s passion for communiy work doe s not end there. He is also a director of a local cross-community vintage club which raises money for local community, voluntary and charitable causes. To date since 2004 he has helped the committee through voluntary efforts to donate over £25,000 to local worthy causes. The recent ‘Harry Ferguson – Festival of Flight’ celebrations which were held in Newcastle in August 2010 was another project which Patrick was involved with, and which was one of the biggest tourism successes for Newcastle in recent years. Following the sudden death of a brother in 2001, Patrick said, I became heavily involved in the campaign for better suicide awareness in Northern Ireland and lobbied politicians and various Ministers for Health. I helped establish a local suicide awareness group in Ballynahinch. My contribution helped to increase suicide awareness with the forming of a 24 hour 365 day telephone helpline for people who may be suicidal.” Patrick added, “I believe in working towards a shared future for all communities through the breaking down of social and political barriers that still presently exist in our society through segregated housing, our two-tier education system, segregated sporting, recreational and community facilities and the flying of sectarian flags. “I am of the clear view that everyone, irrespective of their political, religious or other opinion, nationality or race deserve to be treated as equals. I have worked [caption id="attachment_21369" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Patrick Clarke, Chairman of the Dundrum Village Association, has fought to ensure there is no pollution on the Moneycarragh River from the NI Water treatment works. "][/caption] towards building better cross-community relations and if elected I will continue to serve all of the people as an elected representative in my area. Being in politics is about working for all of the people, and I have always endeavoured to work for everyone, championing the rights of the socially excluded, ethnic minorities, the disabled and the elderly. “During my childhood years I grew up under the shadow of the Troubles on the understanding that you only associated yourself with people from your own religious background. I was always very conscious of the fact that I went to a single identity primary and secondary Catholic schools. Any social and recreational activities that I participated in were strictly within the parameters of the Catholic community. “I never could understand the futility of the Troubles, the taking of human life because you were a Catholic or Protestant, and the deep social divide between both communities. A trip to America back in 1989 with fifteen other school children from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds was the very first time that I had left Northern Ireland and properly engaged with members of the Protestant community. The trip to America has had a truly lasting impact on my life and on how I view people from other religious backgrounds. “As a result of that trip I have become involved in various cross-community projects which allow engagement between all communities. Throughout my adult life I have been committed to cross-community relations, peace and reconciliation and a firm belief in a shared society whereby all people are treated with total respect and equality. “The politics of Northern Ireland today has changed beyond all recognition. For the first time in my life I know that Northern Ireland is now at peace. This peace was brought about by engagement and dialogue and an acceptance by both communities of their own political aspirations. Reconciliation has been a major factor also in the new beginning to Northern Ireland, but there is much more that needs to be done. “Without reconciliation there would never have been peace in my lifetime. Northern Ireland is without question an example to the world that through reconciliation and dialogue, and people being treated as equal citizens, peace can be achieved. I believe that the Alliance Party has played and continues to play an important and pivotal role in delivering towards a shared future for everyone to break down the barriers of segregation and sectarianism”. Some Things About Patrick You May Need To Know *  Patrick is 36 years old and comes from a large family of nine children in a rural community, and he: *   picked up his altruistic qualities from his mother’s ability to help people. *   graduated in Law at Queen’s University, Belfast *   wrote a book on local history. *   was employed from a teenager in both the electrical retail and public sectors. *   enjoys photography. *   has been a keen supporter for the retention of local library services.]]>