WEST Cork Independent TD Michael Collins did not vote for Enda Kenny in the recent vote for Taoiseach because of a number of ‘unresolved issues.’
The ‘Rural Five’ split ranks during the dramatic countdown to the formation of the 32nd Dáil with Denis Naughten and Dr Michael Harty voting to return the Fine Gael leader for an historic second term, but Michael Collins and Mattie McGrath voted against, with the fifth member of the group, Noel Grealish, abstaining.
Michael Collins provided The Southern Star with a detailed account of everything that he argued for on behalf of the people of West Cork – issues that are given in short form here. He welcomed the decision to reduce the cap on the Single Farm Payment from €150,000 to €100,000, but is calling to have it further reduced to €75,000.
He said he was angry that his calls – to have the Criminal Justice Act and the penalty points system that are imposed on Irish fishermen removed – ‘ignored’ by senior ministers and he pledged to ‘vigorously take up their struggle from the opposition benches.’
He described as ‘disastrous for rural communities’ the decision to bring the administration of the Leader programme under the Local Authority.
Deputy Collins said he hoped the recently-published Ambulance Capacity Report would be acted upon straight away. He said he would continue to fight for a number of services for the elderly and the infirm, such as broadening the Fair Deal Nursing Home Scheme, and increasing from five days to seven the Home Help Care system.
A pilot project to re-open six garda stations was welcomed by Deputy Collins, but more work needs to be done on the housing crisis, PRSI equality, a rural jobs strategy, rural post offices, rural broadband and phone coverage, and the road network in West Cork.