In a widely anticipated move, Independent councillor Emmett O’Brien, a farmer and barrister from Pallaskenry, has confirmed that he will be an Independent candidate in the Limerick County constituency in the next general election.
“Limerick needs a progressive, business-orientated and hardworking, Independent TD who will represent the people of Limerick free from a party whip. If I am elected, I intend to follow the mandate given to me by the people of Limerick without fear of political reprisal or a party whipping,” said Cllr O’Brien.
Cllr O’Brien joins a list of candidates also seeking election in the three seater Limerick county constituency. Already selected are Deputy Niall Collins for Fianna Fail, Deputy Patrick O’Donovan and Cllr Tom Neville for Fine Gael, Senator James Heffernan for the Social Democrats and Cllr Seamus Browne for Sinn Fein. Labour and the Anti-Austerity Alliance have said they intend to field candidates in the constituency also and candidates from other small parties and other Independents are also likely to emerge as the election draws closer.
Cllr O’Brien is a former member of Fianna Fail and served on its national executive. He chose an independent route in 2014 when he failed to be selected as a council candidate for Fianna Fail.
“It is becoming clear there is a great opportunity for the people of Limerick to abandon the same old tired political formula, and choose instead a new and brighter political future for the county,” Cllr O’Brien said when he announced his candidacy.
“I believe Independent TDs will stand in a very strong position after the general election and credible Independent TDs could be king makers in forming the next government. The Dáil and the people of Limerick need strong Independent TDs to hold the Government to account, a role which traditional parties have miserably failed,” he added.
“I will fight the election on the issues so that the people of Limerick can decide the best candidate for the responsible job at stake,” he said. Among the issues, he cited the lack of development in industry and agriculture “in a county with so much potential while the most vulnerable continue to pay the price of the recession.”
“Limerick is not without its challenges. There are considerable difficulties with rural isolation, appalling conditions at the University Hospital Limerick, high levels of commercial and residential vacancies in the centre of towns and villages, poor broadband inhibiting SME and agricultural development, and rural crime is at epidemic proportions,” Cllr O’Brien said.
But he added his belief that “with the right policies and a strong voice”, Limerick and the Mid West could become an economic counter-weight to Dublin.