Fianna Fail has lost another leading figure in its South Tipperary organisation with the resignation of Co. Council and Clonmel Borough Council member Richie Molloy from the party.
The former Mayor of Clonmel, who left the ailing Progressive Democrats to join Fianna Fail in 2008, announced this week he has decided to follow Deputy Mattie McGrath and leave the party to become an independent.
He told The Nationalist he will be actively campaigning on behalf of Deputy McGrath in the general election campaign.
The Clonmel man, who is manager of the Carers Association’s Resource Centre in Clonmel, said he had not been happy for a number of months with various decisions by the outgoing Fianna Fail/Green Coalition Government.
He was particularly unhappy with its decision to cut the weekly Carers Allowance for the second year in a row, the cut in funding for home helps and the cut in pensions for blind people. He said he found it impossible to defend these cuts.
“I couldn’t really support the cuts that were inflicted. I lobbied very strongly last year for the Carers Allowance not to be cut again. My big argument was that it was stated government policy to keep the elderly in their homes for as long as possible but the Government didn’t do that in practice.
“The harsh reality on the ground is that it’s very difficult to get home helps, care attendants or any real practical support. The sad fact is that there has been a gradual cut back in home help hours in the last 12 months and this is a Government decision.”
Cllr Molloy said for these reasons, he would be unable to canvas for Fianna Fail in the forthcoming election. And as a supporter of Mattie McGrath, he felt the right thing to do was to be up front and resign from Fianna Fail to allow him take part in the his election campaign, which he couldn’t have done as a Fianna Fail councillor.
“After being a member of two political parties, I am now very much of the opinion that no political party in Ireland today encourages their public representatives to be independent minded and the entire party system is in need of a general overhaul. I would be very much my own man rather than a party man.
“Even within the Fianna Fail Parliamentary Party there are very few votes, if any, of the party’s Oireachtas members. Decisions are decided by the minister of the day and implemented through the party whip system, which is another reason why I have decided to go the independent route.”
As a Fianna Fail member of Clonmel Borough Council, he was part of a mayoral election voting pact with Fine Gael and Labour councillors. But as an independent, he said he was no longer under any obligation to be part of that pact.
He said he felt the voting pact was now gone and the matter would have to be discussed again closer to the mayoral election.