Last November around thirty people gathered in The Cope House in Killybegs to show their support for their local councillor who was about to embark on his campaign in the now famous Donegal by-election which in reality set the scene for last weekend’s General Election.
Last Saturday night at the same venue in Killybegs it was queues at the door and standing room only as the curly headed man known now to all as “the Dark Horse” arrived in the winners’ enclosure to celebrate his historic victory being the first TD in history to come out of Killybegs.
“The word on the street emulated the well known advertising slogan of an established snack food company - “Once you start, you just can’t stop” and these words resonated true for Thomas Pringle who already was in a hurry to get things done.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat/People’s Press a jubilant Pringle said, “To be perfectly honest it hasn’t really sunk in just yet - everything has been a blur since Saturday night.
“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing, the mailbox is full and it won’t even accept text messages - the reaction to my election has been fantastic and the onus now rests fair and square on my shoulders to repay the confidence that has been shown in me by the electorate of Donegal.
“I have been through all the highs and lows in the past and I can empathise with the losers on this occasion on a personal basis.
“Mary Coughlan has been in politics for nearly 25 years and I feel for her on a personal but not political basis - it must be difficult waking up and suddenly realising ‘I am not a TD anymore’.
Pringle was already setting his plans in motion early yesterday morning. He had already named his Director of Elections, teacher John Campbell as his replacement in the County Council and was travelling to Dublin for an appearance on the Vincent Browne Show and to meet with like - minded Independents with a view to forming a technical grouping.
“There is no time for a honeymoon - promises have been made, pledges have been signed and five point plans have been set in stone. I will be there to ensure that these promises are honoured.
“Over the weekend there has already been debate about ‘responsible opposition’ for the good of the country - does this mean just towing the line and following in the footsteps of Fine Gael and Labour whose policies in reality vary little from the previous government.
“To me that would be irresponsible opposition.
“Prior to this election we have heard all the promises - my first priority will be to call on all three parties - Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein who have all pledged to restore the Cancer services to Sligo General Hospital. No amount of bluffing or excuses will suffice in this case - it has been promised during the first “100 days. I will be counting and holding them to account.
“There also imminent issues which I will be vehemently opposing - further bank bailouts, tax increases and any further cuts in an already depleted healthcare system.
“There is an expectation that there will be a numerically strong coalition between Fine Gael and Labour but I want to put them on notice that we will provide a strong, constructive and passionate opposition - we will not be following blindly and just making up numbers.”
On a final note this newspaper asked the new deputy will he be following along the Tony Gregory mode in his dress code ?
Jokingly he replied, “A suit does not make the man but you can rest assured I will be showing respect to the office which the people of this constituency have elected me to.”