Advertisement

We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Ciaran Mullooly after being elected as an MEP for Midlands-North-West. Alamy Stock Photo
Independent Ireland

One MEP, 3 TDs and 23 local councillors: Independent Ireland is now a sizeable party

Independent Ireland have been met with success in the party’s first run after its founding in November.

POLITICAL PARTY INDEPENDENT Ireland, formed last November, describes itself as “the party of common sense”.

Now, they have secured 23 local councillors across the country, and have taken one of 14 seats available in the European Parliament, with the election of former RTÉ correspondent, Ciaran Mullooly.

Considered so far to be a right-leaning political party, it was founded by then-Independent TDs Michael Collins and Richard O’Donoghue.

Its parliamentary team consists of the two founders and TD Michael Fitzmaurice. Michael Collins is the party leader.

Its main priorities as a party include securing Irish borders, freezing and reforming the Carbon Tax, and implementing urgent planning reform. The party has pledged to “reduce the climate burden on the Irish taxpayer”, and protect farmers and fishermen from EU regulations and “unattainable targets”. 

It also promises to deliver “urgent changes to mental health services with early intervention and respite programs”. 

In the elections, they ran a total of 60 candidates locally, and three MEP candidates — and have seemingly been met with unprecedented success.

A total of 23 Independent Ireland candidates were elected as councillors to local authorities across the last number of days, to councils Carlow, Cavan, Cork City, Cork County, Dublin City, Galway County, Kildare, Limerick City and County, Mayo, Offaly, Roscommon, South Dublin, Westmeath, and Wicklow. 

Recruitment 

Independent Ireland now officially has 23 councillors across 14 councils: 40% of the total number of candidates that it ran for election. Having run eight female candidates, only one was elected: Linda de Courcy in the Clondalkin Local Electoral Area (LEA), taking a seat on the South Dublin County Council. 

Despite its success as the youngest party running for election, 12 of Independent Ireland’s candidates in the local elections were incumbents. 

Eleven of these councillors have been re-elected. Two candidates — Noel Larkin and Danny Collins — have served as Mayor of Galway City and Mayor of Cork County, respectively. Incumbent Ken O’Flynn has served as deputy Lord Mayor of Cork City.

Larkin lost his seat, making him the only incumbent running as an Independent Ireland candidate to do so. 

Independent Ireland currently has three TDs, though eliminated MEP candidate Niall Boylan has teased potentially running in the next general election.

All three Independent Ireland TDs were elected as Independent candidates, rather than party members.

This invites the question: is the party’s success as great as it seems?

Independent Ireland underwent a recruitment phase prior to the registration of candidates for election. The party gathered previously Independent incumbents, and those seeking to leave their parties, to run for the party in the local elections. 

Newly elected MEP Ciaran Mullooly has previously said that he had received an invitation from TD Michael Fitzmaurice to run for Independent Ireland in the elections.

Current councillor Seamus Walsh was the first Independent Ireland candidate to be elected locally. He announced his resignation from government party Fianna Fáil in March. Now, he has been re-elected to Galway County Council as a member of the Independent Ireland party.

Collins welcomed his two brothers, Danny and John, to Independent Ireland. Both have now been elected to Cork County Council. 

Richard O’Donoghue, General Secretary of the party, also saw his brother John O’Donoghue re-elected to Limerick County Council. He had taken Richard O’Donoghue’s seat on the council when he was elected to the Dáil in 2020.

Controversies

Party leader Michael Collins has been a controversial figure for a number of years. 

In an interview with Hot Press in April of this year, Collins issued a series of statements against immigration and called for a ban of the burqa in schools. He rejected the decision to accord Travellers the status of an ethnic minority in Ireland. 

Collins described former IRA member Martin McGuinness as a great Irishman and said that he believed God would forgive all former IRA gunmen for sins involved in committing murder.

“Martin McGuinness is not in hell,” he told Hot Press. “Martin McGuinness was a good man.”

He advocated for the legalisation of prostitution, said that rapists and paedophiles should be chemically castrated, and that he doesn’t agree with drink-driving limits.

In 2015, ahead of his bid to run for the Dáil, Collins apologised for writing a character reference for an acquaintance’s son who was subsequently convicted of underage sex.

In December 2021, he was among a group of TDs who proposed a bill in the Dáil that would require pain relief for a fetus during later abortions. The bill was defeated by 107 votes to 36. 

Independent Ireland does not operate on a “strict party whip system, and candidates will be free to speak and vote on key issues”.

Following his interview with Hot Press, Collins confirmed to The Journal that he hadn’t informed candidates of his two-hour interview with Hot Press and added that it is not practical to do so.

European Elections

In the Midlands-North-West constituency, Independent Ireland’s candidate Ciaran  Mullooly secured the fifth and final seat for the European Parliament, benefitting from Aontú leader Peader Tóibín’s transfers, picking up 10,093 votes. He beat Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew for the final seat. Ireland South candidate for Independent Ireland, Eddie Punch, was eliminated on count 16. 

Mullooly, similarly to fellow Independent Ireland MEP candidates Punch and Niall Boylan, has not previously run for election. Formerly an RTÉ Midlands Correspondent, he now works as a tourism activator for Longford County Council. In the first count of Midlands-North-West, Mullooly topped candidates from government parties, receiving 57,297 first preference votes.

On Tuesday evening, as counts progressed to determine who would be elected to Dublin’s four MEP seats, Independent Ireland’s candidate Niall Boylan was in third place and hopeful of securing a European Parliament seat. 

However, Boylan was overtaken by Sinn Féin’s candidate Lynn Boylan, and then slipped from the fourth seat as Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin received a large boost in votes when incumbent Ciarán Cuffe of the Green Party was eliminated from the race. 

Punch received a total of 20,751 first preference votes on the first count. A first time candidate, Punch is a farmer and was previously the general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association. Despite having not previously run for election, Punch still outperformed candidates (in terms of first preferences) from parties Social Democrats, People Before Profit, and Aontú — all of which have sitting TDs. 

Punch’s performance in the European Elections, while undoubtedly impressive, is still considerably less so than candidates Mullooly and Boylan, both of whom had a sizeable public presence prior to running.

Boylan is a radio presenter and podcaster. He presented The Niall Boylan Show on Classic Hits 4FM for over six years before departing in April this year, as he announced his candidacy for the European Parliament

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
54
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel