By Suzanne Pender
COUNCILLOR Will Paton has this week announced his intention to leave the Labour Party and run as an Independent in the upcoming local elections.
The Tullow Municipal District member made the shock announcement at yesterday’s (Monday) meeting of Carlow County Council, in what must be a significant blow to the party locally.
Cllr Paton confirmed that he has issued his resignation to the Labour Party and expressed his intention to re-designate as an Independent.
While wishing his former Labour Party colleagues well, in particular cllr Willie Quinn, cllr Paton said that he made his decision to leave the Labour Party after “much consideration and discussing it with family and supporters”. “Unfortunately, the Labour Party is practically non-existent on the ground in Co Carlow and for a long time I have felt that I have been operating as an ‘Independent’ in reality. Today’s announcement only confirms what has been true for a very long number of years,” said cllr Paton.
Cllr Paton stressed that he has no quarrel with the Labour Party or its leadership; rather, that this move is something he wanted to do for a long time.
“I have met some wonderful people in the Labour Party, who work really hard for their constituents and I want to wish them every success for the future. We part ways as friends; however, I will travel a new road at the 2024 local elections, seeking to be re-elected to serve the Tullow Municipal District as an Independent councillor,” he said.
The long-standing councillor was first elected to Carlow County Council in 1999 and has been re-elected on five occasions to date. The loss of such an experienced and respected councillor is seen as a massive blow to the Labour Party, which now has just one representative among the council’s 18 members – cllr Willie Quinn.