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Ireland South is now a very crowded battlefield

Wednesday, 24th April, 2019 11:55am

Story by Emma Connolly
Ireland South is now a very crowded battlefield

TD Mick Wallace

A FIRST-time trip to Cape Clear brought clarity to controversial TD Mick Wallace and cemented his decision to run as a candidate for Ireland South in next month’s European elections.

The member of the Independents 4 Change group said it was a ‘big decision’ and one he had been mulling over for weeks.

‘The trip to Cape Clear had been planned over six months ago and I had initially planned to register in Cork on my way down on Saturday morning but instead I decided I’d think about it overnight on the island,’ he said.

Admitting it wasn’t an ‘easy call to make,’ he officially declared his plans to run, along with fellow group member Clare Daly, just before the deadline on Monday.

He’s one of 23 candidates who are ready for battle in the now five-seater Ireland South which for the first time includes Laois and Offaly.

The country was given two extra seats by the European Parliament due to Brexit with one allocated to Ireland South and the other to Dublin.

However, if the UK has not left the EU by May 24th, which is looking increasingly likely, the fifth place finisher in Ireland South will have to wait in reserve until this happens.

The line-up (see separate panel on this page) is a mix of known and unknowns. Sitting MEPs looking to hold onto their seats are SF’s Liadh Ní Riada; FG’s Deirdre Clune and FG’s Sean Kelly.

The fourth sitting MEP was FF’s Brian Crowley who stepped down in January on health grounds.

There were reports of in-party squabbling over who the party should run in his place. In a shock result, Cork North Central TD Billy Kelleher initially lost out to Wexford’s Malcolm Byrne, before being later added to the ticket.

The only native West Cork candidates are Liadh Ní Riada from Ballyvourney and Independent Theresa Heaney from Timoleague.

Liadh, who regards herself more as an activist than a politician, has said her focus would be to continue to ‘fight for the rights of the ordinary Irish people in Europe’ and as a member of the fisheries committee, she will continue to stand up for ‘neglected fishermen.’

Theresa is no stranger to the ballot paper, as this is her second time running for Europe. She was also a candidate in the 2016 general election.

She’s known for her staunch pro-life beliefs and pointed to the ‘blood on the hands of Irish politicians’ who facilitated the abortion bill.

‘We should all be very worried when a nation turns on its own,’ she said. However, this time round she is also raising awareness of the ‘hundreds of Irish girls who have been neglected and injected by the state with the HPV vaccine.’

She describes mandatory vaccination as an ‘abuse of human rights’  but insists she’s not against vaccines.

However, she feels there needs to be a public debate of the side effects of the HPV vaccine and has called for it to be ‘withdrawn immediately.’

She’s also against instutionalised childcare, such as creches, which she believes are damaging to children.

‘I think people are being discriminated against. Instead I’d like to see the money being given to parents, and not childcare centres, and for them to decide how to spend it.’

Meanwhile, Mick Wallace who has attracted criticism in the past for his personal grooming and penchant for pink t-shirts insisted to The Southern Star he won’t be getting an image change if he goes to Europe.

‘I don’t tell anyone what to wear anywhere, and don’t expect others to tell me what to wear,’ he said.