Lucinda Creighton was in Longford on Monday for the start of a nationwide tour following confirmation that she will launch a new political party this year.
Ms Creighton travelled to Longford, Carrick-on-Shannon and Cavan on Monday before popping back to Longford for an appearance on local radio on Tuesday morning.
She plans to head to Mayo and Sligo before the end of the week.
The punishing schedule gives some indication of Ms Creighton’s determination to get her new party off the ground.
She is not holding public meetings at this stage - they will come later in the spring and summer, right up to the next general election.
Her #RebootIreland movement hopes to recruit candidates to run in every constituency in the next general election.
On Monday, she was meeting local media and holding meetings with potential candidates throughout this region.
“I am having discussions with people in Longford at the moment,” she told the Leader.
Although she was staying extremely tight-lipped about candidates, Independent by-election candidate James Morgan confirmed that he met with her this week.
“We’ve had interest from every constituency,” Ms Creighton confirms. She won’t go into specific details but later she states that they have been contacted by four times the number of applicants to run for her new party than they initially planned for.
Her #RebootIreland initiative focuses on four core principles - enterprise and economy especially supporting SMEs; public sector reform; political reform and a minimum living standard.
She has come in for some criticism over the fact that these principles have not been fully developed yet and that the name of her new party has not been confirmed.
“If we were launching a political party it would be strange to launch without a name, but we weren’t, we had a very clear objectives and we’ve exceeded all our objectives and that was to issue an invitation for support and candidates,” she explained.
A lot of work has been done in the background, she points out, adding that over 100 people are working on the initiative so far and more people are expected to join in the coming months.
When asked what her new party could do for Longford she points to the the fact that areas like Longford have yet to benefit from the much-touted economic upturn.
“I come from Mayo and the criticism that I am conscious of from my family and neighbours and friends at home that while is the fact that there is nominally an upturn in the economy, nobody is feeling it in the small provincial towns,” she says.
“There is nothing changing and there is no new vision. What we have really been working on developing over the past couple of months is a new vision for the economy, moving away from tax breaks for property investment, pumping up the property market which is what has been happening in the past two years or three instead focussing on how to to incentivise people to grow a business and crucially to employ people in those businesses.”
She talks seeing the vacant shop units while driving through Longford.
“I want to see those filled, I want to see people working ….I want to see opportunities for young people,” she explains.
She believes there is a need to recreate a national development plan with a strategy for regional development, focussing not just on businesses but also on the agricultural sector.
“We have to realise that farming is part of our culture, it’s part of our social fabric and it’s not all about economics, it’s about society,” she says.
Contrary to reports she did not say she would abolish the USC.
“I was a bit shocked when I saw that headline,” she laughs. She says she actually said that the USC and other income taxes should be merged.
“I believe that the USC, PAYE and income tax - they are all the same thing, they are all tax on income, I believe they should be streamlined and called the same thing basically,” she states before pointing out that the USC generates €4.8bn a year for the exchequer.
“ I’d love to reduce the tax burden on income but it can only be done when we can prove that economic growth can deliver additional revenue to the exchequer,” she states, adding that she is not into “auction politics”.
On a local note, she knew the late Albert Reynolds and lives near to the Reynolds’s home in Dublin.
“My dad knew Albert,” she explains, adding that her uncle Andy Creighton was a well-known showband promotor in the region and knew Albert back in his ballroom days.
She hopes to be back in Longford later in the year to hold one of her ‘town-hall style meetings’ but for now she is concentrating on local media and meeting candidates.
She’s a bit taken aback to be asked if this is still a probing exercise or will her party definitely be up and running by the next election.
“Definitely,” she says emphatically. “Definitely.”