Founder of anti-austerity protest group to run in European elections

 Diarmuid O'Flynn: Decision to run inspired by Dáil deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan. Picture: Dan Linehan

The founder of the anti- austerity “Ballyhea Says No” weekly marches has announced he will run as an Ireland South candidate in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

It is three years since Irish Examiner sports journalist Diarmuid O’Flynn and his north Cork neighbours began the demonstrations in protest at the EU/IMF bailout.

His decision to run, he says, was inspired by Dáil deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan who recently told the marchers that they had to look at the upcoming local and European elections as an “enormous jobs advertisement” and to stop expecting other people to fight their fight.

Despite admitting “I haven’t a bob”, Mr O’Flynn said: “I’m not running as some kind of token candidate, I am running to win. I have no intention of running from the fight and am putting myself out there as an independent Irish voice as the days of civil war politics are over.

“The Irish debt fight is not something to fight at home, I have learnt in the past three years it is something to be fought in Europe and not in the Dáil.”

Mr O’Flynn will be facing Fine Gael’s sitting MEP Sean Kelly and his party colleagues, Senator Deirdre Clune and Deputy Simon Harris; the massive Fianna Fáil vote-getter, sitting MEP Brian Crowley; Liadh Ní Riada of Sinn Féin; Grace O’Sullivan of the Green Party; and sitting Labour MEP Phil Prendergast.

He intends “getting a lot of campaigning done over social media” and will take annual leave from his day job during the campaign.

“I am hoping to get support from all quarters. We have had €70 billion in debt imposed on us, the biggest debt in Irish history. And, I won’t be satisfied until we get our money back from Europe”.

Under O’Flynn, the Ballyhea Says No campaign has travelled to Brussels to meet European Council president Herman Van Rompuy; the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee chairwoman, Sharon Bowles; and Istvan Szekely the top Commission official charged with running the ruler over our budgets during the bailout.

“I am totally pro-Europe, but I think it has lost control and lost direction. The Irish MEPs need to form new alliances in Europe with the other bailout countries instead of keeping a distance from them as the Government has done. And some of the stuff Europe has been dictating shouldn’t even be looked after nationally but locally, things such as this absurd rule that gorse can’t be burnt after the end of February. Can you imagine dreaming of burning gorse before this, with the weather and storms we’ve had?”


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