SITTING Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins has won his party’s backing to contest the next general election in the Limerick constituency.
At a selection convention in Adare last night, Deputy Collins won the nomination handsomely, clocking up 231 votes to 43 won by Cllr Eddie Ryan of Galbally.
In his acceptance speech before an attendance of over 400, Deputy Collins accused the Government of having become “disconnected” from the people it was supposed to serve.
“Our state services are stretched, young people and the elderly are bearing the brunt of all the decisions and people want an end to unfair austerity,” he said.
Fianna Fail was working on its election manifesto, he declared, but he outlined that he wanted jobs, houses and infrastructure for Limerick included as a priority, along with an end to long waiting times in A&E and to the traffic bottlenecks in Adare, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale.
“Much has been said and much has been written about the last election, but I genuinely believe that the next election, the general election, that we could find ourselves fighting at any stage over the next 12 months, is the most important election for the country in generations,” he said.
“In the context we are facing, the role of Fianna Fáil has never been more important. Families in Limerick County don’t feel any recovery. Instead, they feel only an ever tightening squeeze on their resources. They watch as our children bear the brunt of cuts and listen to a Government that simply doesn’t get it.
“In Limerick County, our families and our communities feel under siege. They have endured austerity and they have given all they can give. My vow tonight is to work to give our communities hope. We will not be making any promises we cannot keep in this election campaign, but we will be setting out our vision for our country. “
Commenting on opponent Cllr Eddie Ryan and the Fianna Fáil organisation in Limerick County, he added: “Eddie and I ran a respectful and professional campaign. We treated this process with the seriousness it deserves and I now look forward to working with the entire organisation in this constituency to bring our message to every voter and every community.”
However, by contrast, Cllr Ryan regretted the fact that party members had not been given any opportunity to air their views on how to rebuild the party since the disastrous result of 2011.
“All we have done is put a preservation order on our TDs,” he said.
And he stressed again that the strategy of standing just one candidate in the enlarged, redrawn constituency was wrong.