Former RTÉ Midlands correspondent, and now Independent Ireland candidate for the European Parliament, Ciaran Mullooly (right), pictured with TD Michael Fitzmaurice at Lough Funshinagh in Roscommon last weekend.

'I want to be known as a good, strong rural MEP' says ex-RTÉ reporter Ciaran Mullooly

Having turned down a number of approaches to enter politics in the past, former RTÉ Midlands correspondent Ciaran Mullooly has decided to enter the race for the European Parliament with the new Independent Ireland party.

Last weekend, the Ballyleague resident announced his candidacy in the Midlands-North West constituency by visiting the flooding crisis at Lough Funshinagh in South Roscommon alongside local Independent Ireland TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Speaking to the on Monday, Mr Mullooly said he had rejected "several" prior approaches from political parties which sought to convince him to run for office.

"When Albert Reynolds retired from politics, I was approached by Fianna Fáil. I was subsequently approached by Labour, to run for local election, and I was also approached by Fine Gael and asked to consider a Dáil run.

"I was approached again by Fianna Fáil when I retired from RTÉ (in 2021) to see if I'd run for the European Parliament. So the only party that hasn't asked me is Sinn Féin. Whatever I did to Sinn Féin, I don't know!" he laughed.

When asked why he had made the decision to seek a seat in Brussels at this stage, he spoke about his longstanding involvement in community development work in the Midlands.

"I've been involved in community development for over 30 years, and the frustrating thing that keeps coming up is the issue of regulation, particularly European regulation," he said.

"Big Brother is always watching, as the fella says. That has been on my mind, and it's nothing new. I've been moaning about that for a long time."

He said he had conversations with Michael Fitzmaurice more than six months ago, because, "I felt he was outspoken on the issues that I was being outspoken on: Regulation from the EU and particularly its effect on rural areas, on things like farming and community development."

He said Deputy Fitzmaurice had been weighing up a European run himself but had opted to run again in the next general election because he wants Independent Ireland "to be strong in the Dáil with a view to being in a position where they could form a Government with somebody after the next election.

"He wants to put the strongest foot forward and he wants somebody in Brussels to be able to, similarly, be there at the point where legislation is being drawn up and policy can be scrutinised."

Mr Mullooly said one of the reasons why he was running for Independent Ireland was that it was tailored toward independent-minded people, in that it would have "no strict party whip on members, and no whip at all on issues of conscience".

"Nobody will bully me on which way to vote, and that includes the party. I'll weigh up the pros and cons of the situation every time and make a decision," he stated.

When asked about his chances of winning a seat, he said he was targeting the fifth seat that had been added in the expanded Midlands-North West constituency, which spans 15 counties including Westmeath, Roscommon and Offaly.

"In a new five-seater, with Laois and Offaly back in, and my own contacts with county Offaly, I felt it was definitely going to be stronger for me.

"I suppose people would say, 'Who are you going to displace?' I'm not necessarily going to be asking people to displace anyone. I want to get the fifth seat, the new one. I want it to be known as a farming and rural affairs (seat). I want to be known as a good, strong, rural MEP."

He said his campaign had been launched alongside the flooding at Lough Funshinagh because he felt it was "a classic example of where European regulation is effectively strangling a community, leading to the evacuation of homes and the loss of land".