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Cllr's character reference for sex offender

September 21st, 2015 11:55 AM

By Southern Star Team

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LAUNCHING his bid for Dail Eireann this week, Goleen Cllr Michael Collins (Ind) has spoken candidly of an incident he says he very much regrets.
Cllr Collins, who topped the poll at the last County Council election, told The Southern Star that before he took up his Council seat he gave a character reference, in a letter, for a man who was subsequently convicted of underage sex.
Cllr Collins said he wrote a letter to a judge on behalf of an acquaintance, whose son was in court and later convicted of paedophelia.
‘Firstly, I regret it, and I am sorry that I sent this letter. It was wrong to do this and again I am very sorry. I wrote the letter because of his mother’s medical condition. She is very ill and while I cannot imagine the pain and suffering the victim of this terrible crime and their family must have been going through, my actions were, and are unacceptable, and I would like to apologise,’ Cllr Collins said.
In the letter, which was written in 2013, Cllr Collins made it very clear that in no way did he condone the actions of the accused and it was never his intention to obstruct the course of justice.
In the letter, he suggested the man’s actions were ‘out of character’ and that he should get ‘professional help … to understand the wrong he has done’. This week Cllr Collins said that justice was served, ‘which was correct and right’.
‘The accused was convicted and sentenced. I wrote the letter in an effort to lessen the pain, both for the victim and the accused family,’ Cllr Collins said.
Meanwhile, a large crowd gathered, some representing various community, voluntary and farming organisations, in Bantry on Sunday night, at the launch of Cllr Collins’ campaign to run for the Dail.
Cllr Collins, from Lowertown, Schull, who is married with three children, said he understands the difficulties faced by those rearing a family these days.  ‘It is because of the people of West Cork that I was able to take a County Council seat and I know that with this continued support we can take the issues that are important and matter to these communities across this region to Dublin. We here in West Cork have long had to fend for ourselves and fight for services and amenities that other areas of the country take for granted. I want to ensure that there is a strong voice, an independent voice, for the people of West Cork in Dail Eireann after the next election,’ Cllr Collins added.
Cllr Collins went on to say that he would ensure that, if elected, he would be available to deal with the issues he claims the sitting TDs have all but ignored.
He slammed local TDs and government party councillors who are, he said, ‘invited to meetings and time and again they don’t show up’.  
‘This has to stop,’ he said. ‘If I am elected I will make myself available – and not just in the six months before an election,’ he pledged.
Cllr Collins also spoke of the need to invest in the infrastructure of West Cork, as well as a much-needed increase in Leader funding for the area, which was greatly reduced recently.
We also need to invest more in roads and transport, he said.

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