Holly McKeever Cairns is a woman on a mission to build a more resilient West Cork. To end the cycle of boom, bust, emigrate. To invest in small farms and businesses. To bring our young people back home.
A farmer and small business owner from the Turk Head peninsula, Holly grew up with the Ilen River estuary on one side, and Roaring Water Bay on the other. She lived and worked abroad for many years in Greece, Spain, UK, USA and Malta, before moving back home to work in the family farm and business, Brown Envelope Seeds.
Holly has a keen interest in sustainable agriculture and how we can work to ensure food security for future generations. She believes that the answer lies in increased support for small farmers, small business and entrepreneurs.
Now 28, Holly grew up in Aughadown. She attended Lisheen National school and Schull Community College. She graduated from UCC with a first class honours with a Master of Science in Organic Horticulture. As part of her studies, she researched the methods and importance of plant adaptation in the face of unpredictable climates.
Holly has worked with adults with severe neurological and physical disabilities and teenagers with autism. She has spent time volunteering in Calcutta, Cape Town and Romania.
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1 week ago
Good news: At yesterday’s full Council meeting, I tabled a motion to allow Councillors a full three working days to review documentation before discussing or voting on it - it got huge support in the chamber (HURRAY🥳) and is going to the corporate policy group to iron out the details.
Greater transparency and decision-making was a key part of my campaign for election so I am delighted at the level of support from my colleagues. The more information and time we have to do our jobs to the best of our ability, the better. I’m working on a slate of other motions so this was a great boost.
Here’s what I said when I put forward the motion.
“It is our basic role as councillors to make informed decisions on behalf of our communities and at present, that often isn’t possible - using this morning as an example of standard practice, I received a five page response to THIS motion just before the meeting commenced.
Last Monday at our MD meeting, we were presented with a lengthy document for a proposed development in Castletownbere. There simply and quite literally wasn’t time to read it.
Obviously, I'm not insinuating that this is intentional, seeking to create additional work for council staff, or to be unreasonable in the case of a mitigating circumstance. We all want to do a good job and my proposal is to facilitate elected members in making informed, considered decisions - because that is a fundamental aspect of our role.
I understand that there may be risks of information being leaked to the press but we should work to prevent that occurrence - rather than withholding information in relation to important decisions.
Receiving the agenda on Thursday or Friday for Monday meetings - acknowledging that Saturday and Sunday are not working days - along with receiving relevant documents, moments before meetings commence - impedes us from being able to do the job we’re elected to do.
Therefore, in order to give members the necessary time to read documents and understand them, I propose that we, in line with the Local Government Act, ensure members receive documents, not less than 3 clear working days before any meeting.” ... See MoreSee Less
Well done Holly informed decision making and transparency essential, I love your integrity wish there was more of it in politics , Respect ✊
Brilliant, Holly. Transparency is so important in building trust and it's great to have a public representative that we *can* trust. Awesome!
Fantastic. Great to have a bit of common sense in the process 😉😊 .. well done yet again 👏👏👏
Great work Cl. Clarity and transparency . Carry the torch for us Holly
Well done Holly!You are doing a great job especially as it’s an upward climb.
Well done Holly - the law is a great thing when used.
Great news Holly too many rushed decisions in the past leading to poor judgements.
Great news, Holly. Well done.
This is refreshing and impressive. It goes some way to restore my faith in local democracy and in fostering professional standards on the part of those who represent us and whom we pay from the public purse. Accountability and transparency shouldn't be rare and should always be expected as a minimum
What a great start Holly, hope it gets incorporated, it seems to be a logical way to do things! 🐧
Brilliant well done xx
Brilliant, well done Holly
Fantastic ! Thank you for the great work you’re doing ! 🙏
Well done Holly!x
Well done. X
Well done Holly x
Well done Holly
A very sound proposal for enabling informed decision making. Hope it gets the green light. Thanks for giving us these insights into the council chamber workings Holly. Are you keeping notes for producing a handbook for future new councillors? If only you knew a local publisher...🙂
Keep up the good work Holly
Wow, 3 days? It should be at least a week between receipt of agenda and accompanying papers to the date of the meeting. Anything less is ridiculous.
Well done Holly. Making local democracy stronger and more transparent for West Cork can only lead to better decisions.
Making a difference already Holly .Good on you
Brilliant well done Holly
Thank you Holly mckeever Holly Cairns for already starting up a culture of transparency..thank you for your actions for change.
Doing a great job there Holly Cairns.
Cllr Holly Cairns is at Mizen Head.
3 weeks ago
This is the current #StormLorenzo update from Cork County Council - Cork is currently subject to a Met Èireann Status Yellow (down from orange) - Wind warning. Southeasterly winds will reach mean speeds 50 to 65km/h with gusts 90 to 100km/h resulting in some disruptive impacts.
Cork CoCo expect the main impacts from the Storm to include disruptions caused by fallen trees from high winds and surface flooding resulting from heavy rain on saturated soils combined with falling leaves blocking drains and gullies.
In coastal areas Storm Lorenzo will produce significant swells, high waves and the ongoing threat of storm surges.
Motorists are advised to report issues such as fallen trees and road damage to their local Council office during working hours or to call the emergency number (021) 4800048.
The strong winds may give rise to localised power outages. In the event of disruption to power supply, please contact ESB Networks at 1850 372999.
In the event of disruption to water supply, please contact Irish Water at 1850 278278.
Cork County Council will continue to monitor this situation. Updates will be provided on Cork County Council’s website www.corkcoco.ie and on social media.
I’ll stop spamming you all with footage of my dog now.
Stay safe everyone! ... See MoreSee Less
3 weeks ago
“So... what's it like on the council?"
This is my most Frequently Asked Question these days. It turns out lots of you are really interested in what goes on in Council Chambers, and I like talking about it - in fact I think it’s really important to shed some light about what goes on in there.
In general, I’m happy to report that I’m getting on great. I really, really like being a councillor. That’s not to say it’s been a walk in the park. It has not. The way everything “works” up in County Hall is confusing at the best of times, infuriating at the worst of times, but never not eye-opening - and after a few months of taking a lot of notes and asking a LOT of questions (some less welcome than others) I’m starting to get to grips with it.
I’m new to all of this, and while my inexperience can sometimes be a weakness, I’m also learning that it can be a strength as I’m not institutionalised into accepting “the norm”.
I will not take “That’s just the way things are done” for an answer. I’ll always probe further and interrogate why this is the way things are done, and whether there might be a better way to do things.
It’s not surprising but it is still disappointing to see some elements of how the council works, to see councillors shy away from standing up and saying what they think because of party lines and fear of bad press.
Questioning the status quo may not make me very popular in the chamber at times but I think it’s an important role to play and I seem to have a bit of a knack for it 😂.
So how does it work?
Councillors have meetings every Monday.
The full County Council (55 members) meets in County Hall in Cork on the second and fourth Monday of the month.
On the first Monday of every month we have Municipal District (Bantry and Skibb-Clon) meetings which rotate between all the towns in the area.
On the third Monday of every month we have Western Division (Bantry, Skibb-Clon and Bandon-Kinsale) meeting which are always upstairs in Clonakilty library.
The agenda for Monday meetings is sent out on Friday.
The way it’s supposed to work is that we are presented with the agenda and relevant documents 3 working days beforehand and discuss and debate them and then either pass or reject them.
But in reality, relevant documents and responses to motions are often dropped on our desks just before meetings commence, so sometimes we have next to no time to prepare ourselves for last-minute changes.
However if we, as elected members, want to submit a motion it has to be in a week in advance. Presumably this is so the council can take the time to make informed responses and decisions - all of which makes perfect sense. I feel as councillors it’s our responsibility to do the same.
So at the next full council meeting I’ll be tabling a motion requesting that all documents be sent out at least 3 working days before a meeting.
This is the third motion I have submitted.
My first motion was for the council to stop using glyphosate in all of its operations. This motion was rejected because it had been put forward in the last 6 months, before I was elected.
In a way this is useful because I got to see the reply to this motion (well in advance for once!). The response was basically “No, we need it for managing invasive species” which may be true, I need to do more research on this, but in the meantime, it seems that justification is being used as an excuse to use it in a lot more of the council’s operations.
So I will amend my motion to ban the use of glyphosate in all our operations with the exception of invasive species so it will no longer be used in our towns and villages, in parks, graveyards etc. I will include the need for warning signs for the public when it is being used as well as information and training for staff who are applying it.
The second motion I put forward was to rezone the site for the proposed plastics factory near Skibbereen. The council prepared a four page response to this which I got the morning of the meeting (I had submitted the motion a month previously). This debate took up an hour of that day’s meeting.
In an ironic turn of events, senior staff and many councillors gave extensive lists and reasons why I shouldn’t be suggesting that we make variations outside the county development plan process, which is precisely what they did to this exact site in 2016 when they rezoned it to build a plastics factory 🙃.
My motion was roundly defeated. Apparently I’m “anti-jobs” 🙃🙃. You can read more about it here 👇
The following Friday the council proposed a variation to the county development plan in order to build a Kildare village style retail outlet 🙃🙃🙃.
You couldn’t make it up.
My plan is to to table motions that I believe will facilitate greater transparency, accountability and make it easier for elected reps to make informed decisions.
As well as attending multiple meetings and doing research for them, a lot of my time is spent attending seminars and training, meeting constituents, poring over maps, coming up with ideas for Bantry, Ballydehob and beyond and of course turning up to some great community events. It’s busy and sometimes I don’t get around to writing updates like this one so we’re thinking of starting a monthly podcast on what goes on inside the chamber - what do ye think? ... See MoreSee Less
Holly , it is difficult to bring about change in a large org. . . My immediate concern is back to the crash which occurred at New court last Tuesday about 6pm . When I came on the accident scene there were Three Fire brigades and I met the Ambulance coming from Skibbereen As I said before I wrote to the NRA called to the Garda about the amount of accidents I have witnessed at that spot on the N71 Are they waiting for a major catastrophe before making some strong STRONG Notice even more chevron signs to clearly indicate a serious BLACK spot.
How about a motion to live broadcast all council meetings ie a webcam in the chamber! Frighten the sh*** out of officials and establishment! And expose the lads that come in ten minutes from the end of meetings to sign in so they can claim expenses. I doubt such a motion would be passed unanimously!!👀
Thank you for the updates. Are there any updates or plans around single use (or low multiple use) plastic election posters? Thank you
Great to have your insight and perspective on the goings on within The Council,looking forward to your progress and future podcasts 🧐😃
Hi, what plans are there to tackle Japanese knotweed? It is a nasty problem, affecting biodiversity, has it been discussed or have proposals been offered?
So Holly this is brilliant. There is no way otherwise Joe Public or I would find out how the council works works. Keep up the good work and yes to podcasts! Excellent idea. Go Holly!!
I love these posts Holly, it's great to get an insight in what happens in the council. Podcasts would be great. You're going great work x
Great post. It sounds fascinating and frustrating at the same time. Just pleased that you are there to be the voice of reason for us. Thank you holly xx
Well done Holly. All areas should have a representative like you who cares about the people and environment, not just their party and next pay packet. So proud to know you x
Well done Holly for your excellent work and transparency! Keep fighting the good fight! So happy you are there to shake things up! 💕💕
Hi Holly your doing great well done. Can you put in on the use of glyphosates that social housing tenants are informed well in advance of any glyphosate spraying in their areas? This would help us protect our families particularly children who play in areas who may not be aware that lethal glyphosate has been put down.
Fascinating piece, Holly, thanks for representing us and for standing up for what we believe in! You are such a positive force, thanks for all your hard work.x
Well done Holly .This is something completely new Keep up the good work. I dont think some of the comments here like *throw trhem out etc* are helpful .
What do I think? I think your doing a great job. And fair play to Holly.
Well done Holly. This is really interesting to hear. In my experience ( 😂) There are SO many advantages to being “inexperienced” sounds like you are playing to your strengths for the good of your constituents!
Well done Holly. It's really interesting but also it's very reassuring to know that you are in there campaigning for us all .
Thanks for sharing! Very interesting! I, for one, would absolutely love a podcast! 😊
You are AWESOME!! It must take some lady-balls to constantly stand up against a sluggish, conservative system like it and looks like it requires so much strength and will and can only highly admire you for doing it! Thank you so much for standing up for us. I support you completely.
Thanks Holly. Keep up the good work!
Podcasts a great idea!
Great information, Holly. Thank you for this.
Answered my questions....i never really knew what goes on! Very informative! Thanks
Sounds interesting, exciting and frustrating in almost equal measures! 😁
Hi Holly the reason you get responses just before the meeting starts is because a councillor went to press before it was discussed in council so we all got a slap on the hand because of it but you're right to table the motion it's ridiculous and high time it went back to how it worked before.Well done and keep up the great work.
I like reading what you have to say and I think your only just at the tip of the iceberg. Would listen to a podcast to xx
Homeless children aren't able to swallow properly, because of the poor quality of food they rely on #cblive
Pictured at our recent AGM are chair Richard Scriven, @HollyLeahCairns and secretary Clare O'Reilly
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There were many reasons why I decided to join @SocDems but this 👇 was one of them. For the first time I was listened to and treated equally. It still floors me to think since 1918 we've only had two women TD's representing Limerick City and none in Limerick County 😩