First Interview: The Thoughts Of Chairman Ming


Newly elected TD for Roscommon/South Leitrim Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan gave his first post-poll interview to Mary Wilson on RTE Radio 1’s Drivetime last night. Here’s how it went down.

Ming: “Good evening to you, Mary”

Mary Wilson: “Is it a case of, ‘Enda, Enda, give us a ring’? You want him to contact you?”

Ming: “No, it certainly isn’t a case of that. It’s a case of, ‘I’m willing to talk to anyone who’s elected to Dáil Eireann, bar Fianna Fáil becasue they destroyed this country, but anyone else I’m willing to share my ideas with them.”

Wilson: “When we look at the numbers, the question strikes me, why would Enda Kenny phone you at this stage?”

Ming: “Like I say, I have been given a mandate by the people of Roscommon and South Leitrim, a bigger mandate than either of the two Fine Gaelers that were elected, and I think it’s his duty to listen to our concerns and listen to the concerns that I have for the future of this country. I look at Fine Gael policy, I see that they want to move toward the equivalent of the Dutch health system. I agree with that. They tell me here locally that they want to secure the future of our hospitals, both Portiuncula and Roscommon hospital, by changing the health service. I think that’s a good idea. They have promised us the future of turf-cutting, I totally agree with that. I also hear them talking about reforming the way government works and I totally agree with that, but the only question is, do Fine Gael passionately agree with their own policies? … There is one major thing, though, that they would have to move on and that is the issue of our debt, and the issue that has been taken up by the experts, and the experts are all telling us we have only one option: we must default on that debt. Fine Gael currently don’t have that position and they need to move on it because if they don’t it’s going to happen anyway”

Wilson: “The debt excepted – after the list you gave there, Luke Flanagan, why aren’t you a member of Fine Gael?”

Ming: “Sure, why would I be a member of Fine Gael?”

Wilson: “There’s so much common ground between you. You went through the hospital issues there, you went through the turf cutting… You have a lot, ah, in common”

Ming: “Well, what I’ve already said is those are Fine Gael’s stated policies and I happen to agree with an awful lot of them and they happen to agree with me on an awful lot of them. But I’m not quite that sure that they actually believe what they say. When they talk about reforming government, do they really mean it? Because when I talk about reforming government, I talk about complete and utter change to the way local government would work, for a start; in other word reduce the number of councillors by 75%. They talk about getting rid of the Seanad. I’d certainly agree with that, but one thing you’ve got to do to reform the way government works in this country is you’ve got to separate national and local government. If they were willing to do that, well then fine, I would be wiling to listen to them. They state they want to change the way this country is governed, well, let them prove it, and let them go along with what I have been saying”

Wilson: “But the life blood for an independent like yourself is to look after the constituency and to deliver locally, and when you then go to the wider subject of Dáil reform and complete reform of the way we do our business. That could squeeze what you bring to the constituency you represent?”

Ming: “That which? Sorry I didn’t hear that”

Wilson: “I said that the life blood of an independent TD like yourself is looking after the constituency. Dáil reform could change what you can deliver, or what you will try to deliver, for Roscommon-South Leitrim”

Ming: “Well sorry, Mary, that’s your perception of what an independent is about. What I am about is looking after this country, and if you look after this country then you look after my area. I wouldn’t be so stupid as to follow the policies of Jackie Healy-Rae, which is to get a few little titbits or a few crumbs from the top table, but ultimately his constituents, and the young people of his area, are having to leave in their droves now because he’s stuck by stupid Fianna Fáil policies. I have a distinct view on the way this country should be run and you need to look at the national issue if you want the local, if you want the local, eh, situation taken care of”

Wilson: “Alright. And would you, like Shane Ross, say you will not be doing that traditional constituency work of attending funerals of people you don’t know and have never met?”

Ming: “I never have attended funerals of people I haven’t met or I have no connection with. In 2004 I topped the poll in my local electoral area and five years later I increased my vote by 50%. I did not attend one funeral, bar my mother’s, unfortunately.”