Two local politicians and a former Longford-Westmeath by-election candidate were among up to 100 interested observers for the launch of a new Independent Alliance in Tullamore last weekend.
Cllrs Mark Casey and Gerry Warnock were joined by Longford businessman James Morgan for the get-together inside Tullamore’s Bridge Hotel.
The Alliance consisting of Mr Ross, Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Michael Fitzmaurice and fellow Dail deputies John Halligan, Finian McGrath and Tom Fleming will not operate a party whip.
A set of core principles were also discussed, some of which included the need to rejuvenate rural Ireland, supporting small businesses, the promotion of women and political reform.
Giving his reaction to last Saturday’s think-in, Cllr Casey said the occasion was well received by all who attended.
“In my speech, I talked about the decline of rural Ireland which has been shown in Longford at least by the closure of two junior clubs since Christmas,” he said.
The Longford County Council Cathaoirleach also revealed he hadn’t totally dismissed the idea of putting his name forward for selection ahead of the next election.
And he challenged suggestions the Alliance faced a tough battle to win over dissatisfied voters, saying upwards of 40 TDs was well within the group’s reach.
“I haven’t ruled anything in or out at this stage,” he said. “What we are offering is a very real and credible alternative.”
Cllr Warnock, who has already confirmed his intention to run, was equally taken by the event, so much so he has already signed up to the loose arrangement.
“I was greatly enthused by what I heard on the day and the ten core principles were well thought out and very relevant to the recovery of our nation.
“I am in no doubt that an alliance of like minded Independents presents a very credible alternative to the failed party system.”
The third Longford based attendee, James Morgan was just as enthused, but stopped short of officially declaring his candidacy.
“It was very interesting to hear what was said, but there is still a long time to go. I don’t want to rush into anything at this stage because it’s not about what’s best for yourself. It’s about what’s best for your county,” he said.