NEWLY-elected Cork South West Independent TD Michael Collins is looking to meet up with a number of ‘like-minded independents’ to form an informal political grouping when the new Dail sits for the first time, on March 10th.
Mr Collins confirmed that he had received a number of text messages from independent TDs around the country, who are not members of the existing Independent Alliance, but who have similar concerns to his own about their constituencies.
He said he would be travelling to Dublin this week and from that ‘something could emerge’.
‘There are a lot of like-minded independents elected from rural constituencies that have suffered as a result of the outgoing government turning its back on rural Ireland,’ he said.
In an interview with The Southern Star at the count centre last Saturday, minutes after his election was confirmed, the successful Goleen candidate said he saw himself as a ‘Healy-Rae’ for West Cork, and would be linking up with the Kerry brothers in the Dáil.
‘I’m going joining with the Healy Raes when I get inside the gates of Dail Eireann, and we are going to work, the very same as they have for the good of the people of Kerry, and we are going to do it for West Cork. West Cork is the top of my agenda and nothing else,’ he said.
Mr Collins, who took the second seat in Cork South West after Fianna Fáil debutante, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, said that he had stood on a platform of improved services and investment in West Cork and he would make no apologies for that when he takes his seat in Dail Eireann.
He had received no approaches from anyone in either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil to date to support either Enda Kenny or Mícheál Martin for Taoiseach but anyone seeking his support would have to address his concerns for West Cork such as improved roads, broadband and mobile phone coverage.
‘I had two words in my campaign – ‘West Cork’ – I am well aware that we need to elect a government, and a good government, to run the country, but there are issues that are of concern to me and the people who voted for me and anyone wanting my support will have to address those,’ he said.
Mr Collins cited investment in roads in West Cork, including upgrading of the N71 and the R586 while improvements in broadband and mobile phone coverage throughout West Cork were also essential if local communities and businesses are to thrive.
Mr Collins said he would also seek the reversal of former Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan’s proposal that EU Leader schemes be administered by County Councils rather than on a community basis, and he pointed out Dublin was now getting more rural development funding than Cork county.
‘I have an interest in West Cork and if somebody wants my vote they can come looking and sit down with me and hear what I want. If they turn their back on all these issues, then they’re turning their back on rural Ireland and I’m not going to support anyone who turns their back on rural Ireland. I’m not expecting people to perform miracles, but if they say they will do it over five years, I’ll give them serious consideration.’