Islington mayor Una O’Halloran: ‘I’m here to make people’s lives fairer’
PUBLISHED: 11:48 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:49 15 June 2017
As mayor for the next year, Cllr Una O’Halloran is the face of Islington. It’s appropriate for someone whose roots are entrenched in this borough.
Cllr O’Halloran, 54, was appointed mayor last month, having been elected as a Cally councillor in 2014.
Community service is in her blood. Her dad, Joseph McKenna, was elected onto Finsbury Council [before it merged with Islington] in 1962.
“I’ve always been involved with my community,” she says. “I used to chair my local housing panel in Central Street. I was a teaching assistant at St Peter and St Paul Primary [in Amwell Street] and my old school St Joseph’s [in Highgate Hill]. It’s the best school in the borough, pardon my bias.”
Cllr O’Halloran grew up in Bunhill Row, off Old Street. She was one of eight children in an Irish immigrant family, and the only sibling who remains in the borough. She now lives in nearby Bath Street.
“I’m very passionate about this borough, and passionate about what I believe in. Before I was elected, you would see me protesting against the closure of Clerkenwell fire station – I made the placards. I’ve campaigned for Jeremy Corbyn in the north of the borough.
“I was asked to stand for election years back, but the time wasn’t right as I had children [a daughter and son now aged 30 and 28] and couldn’t commit fully. When you are a councillor, it’s all about giving everything.
“So I stood in 2014 when the time was right. It was James Murray [now City Hall’s housing boss] who told me to go for it. I really enjoy being a councillor. You can change things, and make people’s lives a bit fairer.
“I’m not from the Cally, but I love it. I know so many people from there and it’s an honour to represent them.”
Cllr O’Halloran’s election came at one of the most poignant times of her life: “My mum didn’t know. She had a brain tumour. If I ever feel sad about her today, I imagine how happy she would be seeing her daughter as mayor meeting all these different people.”
As mayor, Cllr O’Halloran’s consort is Ray, her husband of 33 years. Her charity is the Angel Shed Theatre, an inclusive drama group which embodies her love of Islington.
“Islington is diverse and friendly. People say: ‘London isn’t friendly.’ Well, it is in Islington. Everywhere is so alive. There’s so much good going on.”