Comer courted by political parties to run as MEP

It’s been just 10 weeks since John Comer stepped down as president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) – but he is already contemplating a return to the limelight.

Although he is enjoying time at home on the family dairy farm, near the village of Ballyvary, Co. Mayo, his long-term passion for representing the farming community is still burning bright.

Speaking to AgriLand, Comer – who still holds a position on the European Economic Social Committee in Brussels – said he has been approached by a number of political parties and independents in recent weeks.

I love being at home and the luxury of not always being on the phone; but, long-term I still have a passion for representing people that I feel I am one of and that I understand.

“I have been approached and I’ve been flattered by a lot of people asking what my plan is and if I would consider running,” he said.

Personally, he says it would be a big decision.

Most inquirers have hinted towards Comer running as an MEP candidate in the next European Parliament elections in May 2019.

If Comer does decide to put his hat in the ring, he would be running in the Midlands North-West consituency.

The region elects four members to the European Parliament. Those seats are currently held by Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (independent); Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael); Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein); and Marian Harkin (independent).

‘Mixed household’

The big surprise for Comer is that he has been approached by “all sorts of parties”.

“I know it’s a long way down the road and it’s not just a case of turning up in front of the electorate and getting elected; but, I certainly am giving it active concentration.

“The feelers are being put out by all sorts of parties and the reality is I come from a mixed household.

“My traditions would be steeped in Fianna Fail, and my wife’s family would be very active members of Fine Gael,” he smiled.

Although the father-of-two stressed that no decision has been made yet; he stated that he is a “firm believer” in party politics.

I believe in the support of a party, more so than independents, in terms of capacity to deliver for the electorate and in terms of organisation and structure.

He describes himself as “extremely passionate” about Europe; however, he has some concerns about maintaining relations into the future.

European project

“I think that, the further that we get away from the rationale for establishing the EU post World War II, the more danger we face of generations to follow becoming complacent.”

He stresses that getting the balance right is important.

The member states need to have the right to their individuality, culture and character, as opposed to having too much European Union in terms of the monetary union and tax consolidations.

“There are advantages to getting some of that right; but, we’ve seen that if you don’t bring the citizens of member states along with you, and if civil society isn’t adequately represented, at the centre of Europe then people feel that they are disenfranchised – even though they may not be in reality.

“I’d hate to see anything happen to the European project. The danger has alleviated for now because I don’t think any member state is going to put their hand up when they see the monetary effect and the hassle in the UK,” he said.

‘Filling the gap’

For now, it’s about consulting with his wife and family on his potential future political ambitions.

It was a great honour to be at the helm of the ICMSA. But, when you are at the cut and thrust everyday and suddenly you stop, sure it is disappointing.

“The gap is currently very enjoyable; but, after a while I imagine there will be a big deficit there. If there was an opportunity to represent people, I feel I would like to do that,” he concluded.