Rural Ireland needs a “bigger block” to stand up the Green Party, TD Michael Fitzmaurice has said.
In recent days, the Roscommon-Galway TD has publicly mused about the possibility of setting up a party to represent rural Ireland - which he says needs “strong representation” for its unique needs.
Harking back to the 1980s when an independent TD for Dublin Central received funding for the inner city in exchange for backing Charlie Haughey as Taoiseach, Deputy Fitzmaurice said rural TDs should band together and promote the interests of their own communities.
“You remember Tony Gregory, there was one or two or three [TDs] of a majority; in my opinion, it’s going to bigger blocks and you have to move with what the bigger blocks look to be,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“If we don’t do something like that, it’s not my intention to be walking around the corridors as an independent on [my] own the way politics is going.”
Deputy Fitzmaurice commended the Greens for “getting their policies through” but said rural Ireland felt “abandoned” by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as a consequence.
“Farmers nearly feel guilty at the moment for producing food - which should never be in one of the best countries to produce food,” he said.
“Rural Ireland people feel, basically, left behind.”
Green Party Senator Pauline O'Reilly described his remarks as “populist politics”.
“Before the Greens came into Government, farmers were left behind,” she said.
“There has been more investment now in rural Ireland than ever before; is it as much as we would like? No - because we are doing more.”
She cited the grants for organic farming, new bus rural routes and the relaxing of planning permission rules of solar panels on farm buildings as examples of her party delivering for rural Ireland.
Main image: Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.