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'We've been waiting for 100 years for someone to come and save us' - Ming calls for political change

Flanagan is expected to secure one of four European seats in the 15-county Midlands North West constituency.

Source: Órla Ryan/

Updated: 16.45

LUKE ‘MING’ FLANAGAN has said that the Irish people have got to “save” themselves as no one else will do it for them.

“We’ve been waiting for 100 years for someone to come along and save us. I think we’ve worked out that no one is going to come along and save us.

“We’ve got to do it ourselves. We’ve got to put our name on the ballot paper and we’ve got to try and change things. Rather than say ‘There’s no one on the ballot paper to vote for. Boo hoo, poor me.’”

Exit polls show the Independent TD could get about 20 per cent of the vote in the four-seat Midlands North West constituency.

He said he “couldn’t say” he was surprised at his level of success, given the positive reaction he has been getting from the public.

“I have been canvassing on and off for about 17 years and I never ever got a reaction even close to it. For example, when I got out of the car in Cavan it took me two and a half hours to get about 60 or 70 yards away from the car. I had a bizarre situation – I didn’t go up and canvass people, for some reason they came over to me.”

Flanagan said it was “very heartening” that so many independent candidates were being elected, adding that he hoped Marian Harkin would also secure a seat in Europe as they could “work very well together”.

He added that if independent candidates stuck together, there could be 10-12 extra non-party TDs elected in the next General Election.

Flanagan believes the success of non-government candidates sends a clear message to Fine Gael and Labour: “People do not believe that their tactics in reviving the economy are working. People don’t see it geting much better in the next few years.”

He said he would miss working in the Dáil if elected but added that moving to Europe was “all part of a process to try and improve the lot of people in this country”.

Contrasting campaigns

Flanagan said a lot has changed since he ran for a seat in the European Parliament in 1999.

Back then it was very hard to find issues that actually chimed with people on Europe and this time around there were issues that directly effect people. When it came to rural post offices. When it came to turf cutting. When it came to the use of your land. Or when it came to the bank debt and people not having any money, people did make a direct link to Europe.

He admitted that the Parliament has “limited powers” but said it is “the only forum to discuss these things”.

“If Europe doesn’t listen, what does that say about Europe?”

Flanagan said that Irish politicians were not telling Europe the full extent of the country’s problems, adding that there’s “no chance of a debt writedown if you tell Europe everything’s alright”.

Quoting economist David Williams, he said Ireland had only shown Europe “the good room” and not the fact that some people are “barely able to buy clothes in second hand shops”.

We have brought the European Union into the good room and we’ve said ‘Look it, isn’t it lovely. Look at the bit of China we have here and there. Look at the lovely setee, but we haven’t shown them the rest of the house.

Flanagan is undecided as to whether or not he will join a political group in Europe, if elected.

The Roscommon native who is not known for wearing suits at Leinster House was looking particularly sharp in the count centre in Castlebar today.

“The first time I ever ran for election, I wore a suit. I wear a suit when I want to wear a suit and I don’t wear one when I don’t want to ear one,” he said.

The retuning officer has said the first count from Midalnds North West is not likely to be known until tomorrow afternoon.

So what will Flanagan be doing in the mean time?

“I haven’t seen my kids in six or seven weeks so we’re going to head to the sea, maybe have a bit of a swim. Freshen up and live a bit of real life.”

Originally published: 12.49

Read: Boylan, Crowley and Ming looking good: What the exit polls say about the Euro vote

Read: Water and slamming RTÉ: Here’s how Election 2014 is shaping up in Midlands North-West

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