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TD Collins met with party with far-right links

May 15th, 2024 9:23 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Deputy Collins said he wanted to meet the Italian agriculture minister.

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CORK South West TD Michael Collins confirmed that he attended a meeting of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in Kilkenny but said he did so to meet the EU agriculture minister.

The group is the fifth-largest group in the European Parliament and its members include far-right parties like Spain’s Vox, Poland’s Law and Justice, and Italy’s Brothers of Italy.

‘I am not a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, but I was invited to attend one of their meetings,’ he said.

‘We were told that the Italian minister for agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida would be there and it was on that basis that I thought it would be good to attend.

‘The primary motivation for my attendance was the agenda and the roster of speakers, which also included Janusz Wojciechowski, the commissioner for agriculture, Pat McCormack the president of ICMSA, and Pat O’Toole, a journalist with the Farmers Journal.’

Deputy Collins confirmed that the EU agriculture minister was a no-show at the event. The TD said he is aware of the ECR’s positioning in the European Parliament, but he said he went there to hear their agricultural and environmental points of view.

‘Not only am I not a member of the ECR, I am not a member of any EU group at this stage, but I have never refused to meet anyone,’ said Deputy Collins.

‘I am a staunch advocate for the agricultural sector and have been vocal about the lack of recognition it receives in Ireland from our Government, our minister for agriculture, and from Europe.

‘I firmly believe in the importance of open dialogue and the exchange of perspectives. Engaging with opinions from other nations allows me to better serve my own country, particularly in the context of the agricultural sector,’ he added.

‘The meeting was attended by a diverse group of individuals, including Irish journalists, professors, ministers, and members of parliament from across Europe. Such interactions with people from different countries and cultures are invaluable learning opportunities,’ he said.

‘Since this meeting, I have set up and become the leader of Independent Ireland and I would like to clarify that I nor Independent Ireland are currently affiliated with any European party.

‘Furthermore, I am pleased to confirm that we have three strong candidates representing Independent Ireland in the upcoming elections – Niall Boylan, Eddie Punch, and Ciaran Mullooly, so when the time comes I’m sure we will sit down and speak with the many European groups and parties.’

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