Niall Collins’ Family – A tradition of Public Representation on behalf of the people of County Limerick
James J. Collins (Grandfather), James Gerard “Gerry” Collins (Uncle), Michael Collins (Uncle)
Niall is the grandson of the late James J. “Jimmy” Collins, T.D for Limerick West from 1948 to 1967. Born in Abbeyfeale in 1900 and educated locally, Jimmy was the adjutant of the West Limerick Volunteers during the Irish War of Independence. Opposed to the Anglo Irish Treaty, he was a founding member of Fianna Fáil and served as Fianna Fáil Director of Elections for Limerick City and County which was originally a single seven seat constituency. In that role he worked diligently at building up Fianna Fáil at grassroots level by organising Cumann (branches) in every Parish. 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. Jimmy was very active in local politics and was strongly committed to the issues of farm improvements, house building, road construction and above all Medical and Educational facilities for those who were not well off. He served as a member of Limerick County Council for the Newcastle West Electoral Area from 1950 till his death in 1967. He was Chairman of Limerick County Council for eleven years from 1950 till 1962.
Niall’s Grandfather, James J Collins
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 has been the longest serving Minister for Justice in the history of the state. During his time as a TD Gerard was one of the country’s highest poll toppers. Like his father before him Gerard topped the poll in every general election and received the highest percentage of votes in the Country in all six elections between 1981 and 1992. In 1994 Gerard was elected to the European Parliament for the Munster Constituency where he served two terms after being re-elected in 1999. 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.
Uncles Gerard and Michael, myself, my father Sean and my late uncle Mossie. Photo was after my election to the Dáil at last election.
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.
West Limerick Election Results