CORK South West Deputy Michael Collins (Ind) has confirmed to The Southern Star that he had several meetings with like-minded politicians, with a view to testing the water for the formation of a new political party.
But Deputy Collins, who said the plan has been ‘parked’ for now, denied that the party would be primarily a ‘pro-life’ party.
Responding to recent media reports of a possible ‘pro-life party’ being formed, Deputy Collins said that was just one of many issues which the group discussed.
It would be more accurate to say the three meetings were held with a view to creating a group of ‘pro-rural Ireland’ deputies, he said.
‘Pro-life is just one issue,’ he added, ‘but we also discussed many other issues pertaining to rural Ireland.’
He said another big issue was Minister Shane Ross’s Road Traffic Bill, and the plan to introduce an auotmatic ban for drivers over the current legal limit, which a lot of the deputies were opposed to.
Deputy Collins said that the other TDs who were at the meetings included the Kerry-based Healy Raes, Mattie McGrath, and Noel Grealish, among others. ‘There is a feeling that there is now an opening for a standalone rural party, but I think we have taken it as far as we can for now,’ he said.
‘We have left it for now, but we haven’t closed the door on it. I stuck it out ‘til the end, although not all of them did, but that’s just me. Still, I feel there are a lot of very unhappy TDs out there now.’
Deputy Collins said he believed the drink-driving issue had left a lot of TDs disgruntled, including members of Fine Gael and Sinn Fein who didn’t agree with their parties’ support for Minister Ross’s plans.
Although he is already a member of the rural independents’ grouping, Deputy Collins said that was not a structured grouping, so it had less constraints than a party. ‘We have a loose grouping now, but we have parked the party idea. However, if there were more discussions in the future, I would be happy to sit in on them.’
He also added that his pro-life views were on the record for some time, but he had been receiving a lot of abuse online. ‘But that’s the way politics is, you take it on the chin, and you move on,’ he said.