Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan says he is “surprised” that more candidates have not come forward to contest the local elections in May.
Speaking to the Longford Leader in the wake of his own announcement that he would run in the European elections, the Independent politician said, “If you had a job advertised for cleaning sewers, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t an avalanche of applications.
“These are important jobs which will help to shape our futures.”
Deputy Flanagan continued by saying that, “The vast majority of people would jump at the opportunity to have a job and to help the community, but you could clear the room by mentioning politics”.
The former Mayor of Roscommon admitted, “It’s a difficult job, but it’s very rewarding”.
“It’s also a very do-able job and it’s something I was able to do working at the kitchen table while being the primary carer for my daughters.”
To help generate interest and to demonstrate how to run for local government, Deputy Flanagan recently held a seminar at the Shamrock Lodge Hotel in Athlone.
“We had in the region of 100 people there,” he explained. “Some were interested in running and others were interested in helping to get people elected.
“People came from as far as Donegal, Kerry, Cork and Waterford, but most came from the surrounding counties.”
One local candidate who attended was Niamh Moran, an indepdendent candidate running in the Ballymahon LEA, who described the event as “very informative”.
Deputy Flanagan revealed he will be teaming up with Ms Moran during the election campaign.
“I will campaigning with her and she’ll be campaigning with me,” he said, referring to his own bid to run for the European Parliament.
“Many people are saying they’ll regret it if I go, but they’ve said they trust my judgement,” he said when asked about the feedback from his constituents on his decision.
“Others have said we’re in need of a contrarian voice in Europe,” he continued, before going on to say he would eventually hope to return to the Dáil and that the time he spends in Europe could hopefully get “10 more TDs with similar views elected at the next general election”.
“You’ve got to be ambitious in politics. You don’t achieve anything by standing still.”
Responding to a recent claim made by rival candidate, Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins that he was a “stoner” who would have “no influence” in Europe, Deputy Flanagan stated that: “It’s interesting that I should be lectured by someone who has never been elected for any position she’s run for,” adding that “she went into the Seanad and voted to close a 22-bed mental health unit in her own area.”