Prominent TD Michael Fitzmaurice officially launched Offaly councillor John Leahy’s bid to get to the Dáil at an event in Kilcormac Community Centre last Thursday, January 23.
On the night Michael spoke of his pride at endorsing Cllr Leahy’s campaign to get to the Dáil. He said: "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."
Cllr Leahy then addressed his supporters and said: "Rural counties like Offaly and Laois 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, 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 Mona is definite proof of this. How the government with Fianna Fáil allowed the Bord Na Mona 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 of 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," he said.
The former Renua leader and now independent councillor made particular reference to the Greens and Fianna Fail. He said: "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 me, 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 Fein, their primary focus is the big urban centres," he claimed.
Cllr Leahy concluded by making reference to his poster which says, 'Give Leahy a Chance.'
He said: "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."