Tuesday 19 March 2019

Meelin's Timmy set to call time on his career in politics

"I will miss politics, but I feel the time is right for me to stand down"

Cllr Timmy Collins proudly wearing the deputy county mayor chain of office - an achievement he described as the “high point” of his political career
Cllr Timmy Collins proudly wearing the deputy county mayor chain of office - an achievement he described as the “high point” of his political career

Bill Browne

The rarely shy but now retiring independent county councillor Timmy Collins has announced that he will not be seeking re-election to the local authority at next summer's local elections.

Speaking exclusively to The Corkman, the 71-year-old from Meelin, said that he felt the time was right for him personally to retire from his role as a full-time public representative.

"I have loved the hustle and bustle of life in the council, in particular the verbal jousting with my fellow councillors. I have always been one to fight my own corner and have never been afraid to stand up and be counted when it comes to the needs of the people I represent," said Cllr Collins. 

"However, I feel that politics is becoming an increasingly time consuming pursuit. While I have not lost my passion for the cut and thrust of politics, I feel that the time is right for me to stand back and make way for a new generation of county councillors."

He said that while his departure will likely leave four sitting councillors for four seats in the newly drawn up Kanturk local electoral area, there is still room for a strong, young independent councillor to fight for one of the seats. 

"That is why I have decided to announce my retirement from the council well in advance of next years election, so as anyone considering running in the area as an independent, will have plenty of time to canvas and get their faces known," said Cllr Collins

He said that none of his four children were interested in following their father's footsteps into public life. 

"I think they saw how much of my time and energy it consumed. People often think that councillors just attend meetings, claim their expenses and do very little else. Of course, there are a minority who do that, but I have never been one of those," said Cllr Collins. 

"There is no doubt but that public life can take its toll on your personal life and health, but I have loved every minute of it. I will miss politics but I feel that now I am into my 70's the time is right for me to stand down and give new blood a chance," he added. 

Although a relatively latecomer to the council, Cllr Collins had been an active member of the Fine Gael party since 1976, before being co-opted onto the authority's Kanturk Electoral Area in 2002, after Gerard Murphy was elected to Dáil Éireann. 

After narrowly losing his seat two years later, Cllr Collins left Fine Gael and ran as an independent in the 2009 locals, topping the Kanturk poll with 3,343 first preference votes.

"Deciding to run as an independent was the best political decision I ever made," said Cllr Collins, who was re-elected to the new Kanturk/Mallow Municipal District in 2014. The agreement between Fianna Fail and the Independents within the chamber saw him assume the role of deputy county mayor the following year, something he described as the "high point of my political career".

He has also served as chair of both the Kanturk/Mallow MDC and the council's northern area committee. He has also served as vice-chair of the Joint Policing Committee since 2014 and is the current chair of the HSE (South) committee. 

"It has been a roller coaster ride at times, but there is no doubt but that the good times have far outweighed the bad. I will always have fond memories of my time of the council and of the many people I have worked with along the way," said Cllr Collins. 

"Above all, I have been privileged to be able to serve the interests of the people of the Kanturk and Mallow areas and believe that I have been able to make a difference to their lives," he added.