THE Rural Independent group, which includes local TD Michael Collins, has described itself as 'a revolutionary movement’ with the aim of giving rural and regional communities a 'strong and influential voice' after the next general election.
Deputy Michael Collins said that, along with his group colleagues Mattie McGrath and Richard O'Donoghue, he has ‘been quietly interviewing potential candidates’ for the local and European elections next year.
‘Our objective is to be a voice for change for rural communities by running over 20 general election candidates in the next general election while revolutionizing the Irish political landscape,’ he added.
The Goleen TD said that rural areas in Ireland have been reeling under the weight of new factors that emerged over the past three years. ‘Skyrocketing transport costs, the pandemic, soaring inflation, the sluggish economic growth fuelled by a two-tier domestic versus multinational economy, and the ill-conceived net-zero policies have all dealt a severe blow to farmers and rural communities,’ said.
‘Successive governments have almost exclusively focused on Dublin, causing rural Ireland and regional development to be left behind. Rural communities have become an afterthought, with mainstream political parties showing up at election time and making glib promises to do better next time. This, coupled with the green agenda, is suffocating rural Ireland. As Rural Independent TDs we believe that people deserve better, and we are attempting to run candidates in the next general election, with the ambition of winning enough seats to be part of the next government.’
He said the group’s objectives are to be a staunch independent and community voice inside the next government if they can win enough seats. ‘Currently, rural Ireland is being left behind by the establishment parties and the government's cult-like obsession with climate change and its dire consequences for all rural communities. Rural communities and regions are under attack from all sides, and genuine concerns are being silenced instead of being listened to. The push to tax motorists off the roads, drive down nitrogen-based emissions, end turf cutting, and reduce livestock herds by stealth is not what any government should be doing.’
Deputy Collins also said that there was now a ‘realisation across Ireland that climate policies are deeply damaging to rural communities and regions’.
He pointed out that the Rural Independents have been the only Dáil grouping to oppose the government's climate action legislation in 2021. ‘Unfortunately, the disconnect is clear as rural communities have not been consulted or listened to by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, or the Green Party, despite such communities bearing the brunt of the pain from these policies. The Irish electorate deserves better. They deserve a government that is not afraid to stand up against the well-resourced lobbying power of the green agenda by putting ordinary people in rural communities first.’
If elected to the next government, Rural Independent TDs would demand a complete renegotiation of all climate change policies, he pledged.
‘We would also abolish the carbon tax until alternative sources of energy were available. We will also want to ensure that politics serves the people and does not isolate them. Currently, under this government, Irish politics is isolating the people, which cannot be allowed to continue because the damage to these communities and democracy generally is immeasurable.’
‘Irish communities are being left behind, and we have reached a pivotal moment. This is a crucial time to reverse the drift and ensure that rural residents are not left alone. If our candidates are elected, rural residents will no longer feel isolated, but instead will be represented by a government that cares about their needs,’ concluded Deputy Collins.