Independent TD proposes setting up ‘rural political party’

Michael Fitzmaurice says an Irish rural party could emulate success of Dutch farmers’ party in recent elections

Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Micheal Fitzmaurice has signalled his intention to start talks about a new political party focused on rural issues.

Mr Fitzmaurice, who has previously said he would start a new party as long ago as 2014 and was initially a member of the Independent Alliance group which entered Government in 2016, said he intended to talk to people with the “ambition” to “set up a rural political party”.

He told RTÉ Radio‘s Claire Byrne show that his view was that there would be 15-20 constituencies that “would be very rural” and there would be a “strong possibility” and where a rural party could pick up a seat. “If they did, they would be in a position if the ball bounced the right way to be putting a programme for Government together”.

Mr Fitzmaurice was quoted in Wednesday’s Irish Daily Mail saying it was the “last round in the fight” for rural Ireland. He said there had to be something organised “opposite to the Greens”, pointing to the success of a farmers’ party in Dutch elections last month.


The leader of the Dutch Farmer–Citizen Movement (BBB) was in Athlone on Sunday when she urged Irish farmers to form a political party and contest next year’s local elections.

Caroline van der Plas, whose BBB party came from nowhere to win the majority of seats in the Dutch local elections in March, told a meeting of farmers that, if they put aside their differences, the “citizens will back you”.

She was addressing the official launch of the Irish Farmers’ Alliance, a newly formed representative group for Irish farmers and rural dwellers in Ireland which is considering field candidates in future Irish elections.

Co-founder of the Farmers Alliance, Galway farmer, Cormac Power, said: “The political parties are only concerned about the people living in towns and cities. We are at the forefront of a movement here. We can’t do anything unless we get a political voice. We have to have a vote.”

For his part, Mr Fitzmaurice said he had been talking to people in the farming sector and the business community “to see what’s of interest, and are people prepared to basically put their shoulder to the wheel, to stand for politics”.

He said he had been speaking with “a few” current Independent TDs. “I haven’t spoken to every one of them. This isn’t about the politicians in the Dáil. This is about what I’m hearing on the ground from the ordinary people that live and work,” he said.

“There is people that would have an interest already,” he said, but a policy document with input from businesses and the farming community would be needed first.

On the prospect of him leading any new party, Mr Fitzmaurice said: “This is about people coming together... I never said that I was the right or the wrong person... I am talking now about policies on rural Ireland.”

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times