Michael Collins, who won a seat in Cork South West in last week’s election, said he is to meet with other Independent TDs from rural areas tomorrow to discuss the possibility of forming a group.
“It’s time to get rural issues at the government table, because they haven’t been there for a number of years and rural Ireland has suffered as a result,” said Mr Collins.
He stressed that he is not seeking to join or form a political party, but is open-minded about the prospects of a rural grouping.
“I am quite willing to sit down as a group with a view to achieving a common goal, which is the greater good of rural Ireland.
“There is no doubt that they had a recovery in Dublin, but even a sprinkle of that here in rural Ireland would be quite helpful, particularly when it comes to our roads,” said Mr Collins.
“How are we to bring jobs and employment to West Cork when we don’t have the environment or infrastructure to host them?
“We have no broadband provision and poor mobile-phone coverage. There are parts of some third world countries with better conditions.”
Mr Collins said he did not want to preempt the discussions to take place, adding that he would be open to either a group formed for speaking time, or a bloc that would negotiate support for a potential government.
“I will speak with anybody and everybody as long as the needs of West Cork are on the table. Call that parish pump politics all you like — as far as I am concerned the needs of West Cork must be on the table,” he said.
Mr Collins also lamented the cut in LEADER funding in Cork, and said that rural development funding was greater in Dublin than it is in rural Cork.
“We were let down badly by this government,” said Mr Collins.
“Where is rural in Dublin City?”
Mr Collins took 6,765 votes in last weekend’s election, the second-highest first-preference in Cork South West, and took the second of three seats on the fifth count.