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Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

'I'm done dealing with the monkey, I want to deal with the organ grinder' - Ming on his European bid, being a mosquito and drugs

He’s a thorn in the side of the government, so why does Ming Flanagan want to go to Brussels?

HE IS COMING off the back of his largest success in the Dáil, spearheading the Garda whistleblower issue, and his popularity and profile are rising seemingly weekly, so why does independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan want to win a seat in the European Parliament?

For Flanagan, it’s simple: the residents of his town, and towns across Ireland, are as impacted from Brussels as they are from Kildare Street.

“The simple fact is that more and more of my constituents are influenced by Europe whether its turf or other rules.

I’m sick and tired of dealing with the monkey, I want to go and deal with the organ grinder.

But, is an independent from Roscommon running for Europe just tilting at windmills, given the size of the European Parliament?

“People told me that running for the council, I would have no power, they said the same about the Dáil but I think I’ve had a big impact: in my own town we’re getting a new water treatment plant and nationally we’re talking about a new policing authority.

If you think being small means you can’t have an effect, try spending the night in a tent with a mosquito.

Flanagan says that he believes Ireland has been taken advantage of by the EU, citing the loss of Irish fisheries, as well as EU rebates, saying that Ireland are “are givers, not takers in terms of Europe”.

However, he says that he wants to reclaim Euroscepticism from the far-right. He says that the EU has “gone too far with integration”.

As with all Eurosceptics, the question of why anyone would want to join a parliament they are fundamentally against needs to be posed. For that, Flanagan draws a parallel with Parnell and O’Connell.

“Sometimes you have to do something for your country, if that means going to Europe, so be it.

“I want to see the EU go backwards from being a superstate, I want it to be a community of people who help each other when we’re down. It’s not about nationalism, it’s about localism.”

Flanagan became known as a campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis, but pledged not to smoke the drug in the Republic of Ireland if elected. Of course, a European Parliament seat means that he will be abroad a lot. What will that mean for his habits?

“It’s not something I would be thinking about.

“I would be thinking about laws and I think that with any law, be it turf or cannabis, should be formulated in the country that it is being introduced in.”

The EU pop quiz

We give an EU pop quiz to all of the candidates we interview. Here’s how Luke Ming Flanagan got on:

What as the last country to join the Eurozone? Latvia. Croatia was the last country to join the EU. [Correct]

How many seats will the EU have after the elections? There is currently 766 and there will be 751. [All correct]

What year did Ireland officially join? 1973 [Correct]

Who is the President of the European Commission? Jose Manuel Barroso. [Correct]

Four from four, with bonus knowledge.

Read: Labour Senator’s attack on election rival continues amid calls to withdraw ‘sexist remark’

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