Kilcormac based councillor, John Leahy is on the ballot for Laois-Offaly for the third time. He hopes he can make the breakthrough and get elected to the Dáil on this occasion.
At his campaign launch he made a big play rural decline and the imminent wind down of Bord na Móna peat harvesting across the midlands and warned of the prospects of a likely Fianna Fáil-Green coalition government after February 8.
Cllr Leahy ran in 2011 when he secured 4,882 first preferences. He contest the Offaly 3-seater in 2016, again polling strongly on 4,596 number ones, just over 10% of the vote.
He is no stranger to elections as he has won three local elections over the past decade also after being first voted on to Offaly County Council in 2009, and re-elected comfortably in 2014.
In last year’s local elections Leahy topped the poll in the Birr electoral area with a massive 19% of the vote on 2,277 votes, when he ran as leader of Renua.
He stepped away from Renua after the local elections and is now running once more as an independent. Renua had a disastrous local elections and he was their only successful candidate in the entire country.
To underscore his rural independent credentials Leahy secured the support and endorsement of Roscommon TD, Michael Fitzmaurice. Fitzmaurice himself is also closely aligned of course with Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan MEP.
Fitzmaurice is well known for not mincing his words and championing the cause rural communities, farmers and turf cutters. He officially launched John Leahy’s campaign in Kilcormac Community Centre.
On the night Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice spoke of his pride at endorsing Cllr. Leahy’s campaign to get to the Dáil.
“Here in Offaly you have a man on the ground who gets things done, it only makes sense that you would send this man to the Dáil. John has clearly expressed his desire to form an alliance with other rural minded Independents like me, if he were to be elected. Offaly like many other counties is crying out for this sort of Independent voice, who will work with others to get the best possible deal for our rural communities,” said Mr Fitzmaurice.
Addressing his supporters, Cllr Leahy said, “Rural counties like Laois and Offaly have been totally left behind as politicians tend to the so called national interest. Yes Dublin is booming but I see little of it around here in Offaly. Job creation, farming, our towns and villages, building in rural areas, rural isolation, and rural crime, the cleaning of our rivers and our overall way of life as country people are all massive issues in Offaly.
“That’s why I have purposely put Offaly First on all my posters. It will be the people of Offaly who will be first in my thoughts every day of the week, if they elect me. We are being totally lost in the so called national interest.
“What happened in the case of Bord Na Móna is definite proof of this. How the Government along with Fianna Fáil allowed the Bord Na Móna closure date to be brought forward just beggars belief. 2027 was the date and no climate change plan should have been allowed to have taken this off course.
“Our TDs should have stood firm on this but sure we’re only in the midlands and we have got to serve the national interest. Do you really think this would have happened in Dublin? We need Independent TDs who are going to go up there and be prepared to deal with any party or group of politicians in order to get the best possible deal for rural counties like Offaly and Laois.”
The councillor made particular reference to the Greens and Fianna Fáil.
“A Fianna Fáil-Green government is the bookies favourite. As for Sinn Féin and Fine Gael, it looks like they will be in opposition. We need to elect rural minded Independent TDs like myself, Michael and others who will be willing to come together to do a deal for our rural counties. Are we really going to trust Fianna Fáil on their own to do this? Like Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, their primary focus is the big urban centres.’
Cllr. Leahy concluded by making reference to his poster which said; ‘Give Leahy a Chance’.
“You have given our outgoing TDs all a chance to serve you. I have never had that chance. Give Leahy a chance this time and I will not let you down.”