Sinéad Bradley was elected to the Assembly to represent South Down in May 2016 having initially been co-opted in to the seat of her late father, veteran politician PJ Bradley. Subsequently, Sinéad went on to win the seat and is the SDLP’s spokesperson for the economy.
Outline your background/career to date?
Having qualified as a teacher of Business Studies and IT, I spent the early part of my career developing experience in the classroom environment and attaining further qualifications to deliver vocational courses to adults. In addition to my formal education I continually sought to develop new skills and wider experiences through many voluntary roles across community groups and charities.
Experience on many working committees and having served at board level enabled me to continue with my professional development.
What inspired you to get into politics?
Politics is in my blood. My election in 2016 resulted in my being the third generation in my family to hold public office. Having had the privilege of spending some years working alongside my father, PJ Bradley, I witnessed at first hand the significant and positive difference he was able to make to people’s lives. I found this work, even if only by association, exceptionally rewarding. I felt genuinely humbled to have been returned by the people of South Down who entrusted me with such a position.
Who do you admire in politics or public life?
As stated, I do not shy away from declaring my own father PJ Bradley as a person I aspire to emulate. I fear however my distinctly different nature comes in the way of such a replication, so I work to my own strengths, something he often encouraged me to do.
I also always found myself drawn to straight talking women such as Mo Mowlam, who so eloquently brought a good smothering of common sense to any debate.
One of the qualities I admire most in people is confidence. I particularly admire those individuals who are self-determined and willing to ‘give it a go’ in business. Whilst stories of the business ventures that succeeded are inspirational, I have equal admiration for those individuals who have attempted start-ups that may have missed that one important ingredient – ‘luck’.
What drew you to the SDLP?
I literally grew up in it but it must be said, despite being a member of a political household, the option was always there to take it or leave it. Like many of my seven siblings I chose to leave it, particularly in my teenage years when I was more interested in the finer things in life such as discos and fashion. As many young adults do however, I became more questioning and curious about the world around me. It was at this point I found the SDLP for myself as being the best political match to the social aspirations I held.
The core values of the SDLP, based on the civil rights of individuals, continues to form the bedrock for my political thinking. Fair and unobstructed access to health, education and public services that enable communities and individuals to prosper are at the forefront of my political endeavours.
“I also always found myself drawn to straight talking women such as Mo Mowlam, who so eloquently brought a good smothering of common sense to any debate.”
What are your key priorities for South Down?
As a representative for the constituency of South Down I am particularly mindful that despite our beautiful landscapes, the tourism sector continues to be underdeveloped. I am particularly keen to support developments that will address this and I passionately believe a bridge at Narrow Water is one such project.
The constituency is well known for its entrepreneurial spirit and I am actively seeking to help create an environment that allows businesses to flourish. In particular, I have been working to ensure access to high-speed broadband is rolled out, including rural areas, to remove any barriers to growth.
Other important issues include the safeguarding and development of services at Daisy Hill Hospital, retention and support for schools and outdoor educational centres, working to improve our roads networks and encouraging the decentralisation of good quality public sector jobs to the constituency.
With farming and fishing being key businesses in South Down it is fair to say Brexit presents a looming uncertainty that is not beneficial to any sector. I am also mindful of the aging population across our area. There is a real need to ensure elderly members of our communities are supported so that South Down continues to be a safe and happy place to live.
What are your interests outside work?
My escape from work is my family. A dry day outdoors gardening, (I use the word ‘gardening’ very loosely) with my family around is quite perfect. Occasional nights out with my friends keep me sane whilst stealing time to get stuck into a good book feels self-indulgent, it almost ranks as a holiday.