Niall Collins’ Family – A tradition of Public Representation on behalf of the people of County Limerick
He declined requests to run as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the 1930s as his family were very young at the time and he felt his duties as a father should take precedence. The Boundary Commission divided the Limerick constituency into East and West prior to the 1948 election and at this election Jimmy was selected as a candidate to contest the three seat Limerick West constituency.
Due to his long service in building up the party and his prominent role as a volunteer during the War of Independence, he’s involvement with the community in many ways ensured he topped the poll in the 1948 election and was successful in all subsequent General Elections until his death in 1967.
Niall is a nephew of Gerard Collins, TD for Limerick West from 1967 to 1997. Born in Abbeyfeale in 1938 he was educated locally at St. Ita’s College, Patrician College, Ballyfin and at University College Dublin where he founded the Kevin Barry Cumann of the Fianna Fáil party in 1957. He was Chairperson from 1957 to 1961.
The Kevin Barry Cumann was and continues to be the largest party political Cumann in the Country. Between 1965 and 1967, Gerard served as Assistant General Secretary of Fianna Fáil. He was elected to the Dáil in a by election in 1967 created by the death of his father. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary (now known as Junior Minister) at the Departments of Industry and Commerce and the Gaeltacht in 1969. Gerard served in a number of Ministerial positions from 1970 till 1992 including Posts and Telegraphs (now Communications) Justice and Foreign Affairs.
He was leader of the Fianna Fáil group in the parliament and served as Vice President of the European Parliament. Although retired from electoral politics, Gerard continues to play an active role in the party. He is currently Joint Honorary Secretary of the party and was appointed by An Taoiseach Brian Cowen to chair a special committee to examine the Fianna Fáil party organisation and report on how it can best be organisationally revamped to meet the challenges our party and country are facing.
For the 1997 general election, Gerard’s brother and another uncle of Niall Collins, Michael (Abbeyfeale and Patrickswell) was selected as a Fianna Fáil candidate and was successfully elected. Michael was a hotelier at the Railway Hotel in Limerick and previously served as Chairman of Limerick County Council. Michael was successfully re-elected at the 2002 general election before retiring at the 2007 general election.