DEPUTY Michael Lowry has confirmed he will be standing as an Independent candidate for re-election this year, and is predicting it will be hard fought election race in which no candidate can be assured of a safe seat.
Deputy Lowry also told the Tipperary Star that recent proposals to update the gaming laws put forward by outgoing Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, would not lead to an increase in gambling among Irish people.
The Thurles Deputy said it's going to be a "very different" election from previous ones given the volatile mood of the electorate. Fine Gael and Labour should have a majority, but it is difficult to assess the relative strengths of the two parties, while the left-wing socialist parties are also enjoying unprecedented support, added Deputy Lowry.
Full story in this week's Tipperary Star. The Department of Justice has been working on the legislation for some time, though it will fall to the next government as to whether to enact the legislation, added Deputy Lowry.
"The most important thing is that the decision in principle has been taken, and that the groundwork is being done." Deputy Lowry said it was difficult to predict when the Bill might become Law.
Concerns have been expressed about the impact of casino gambling on vulnerable members of the public. Deputy Lowry stressed that the Tipperary Venue is an "overall leisure and entertainment complex", with the casino only forming one part of it.
"I think the most exciting aspects of it are the replica White House, and the Equestrian Centre has massive national and international appeal. We'll be able to hold world-class events which we haven't been able to do before in Ireland.
"While the focus is on the casino, the other aspects of it, such as the Dog Track, or the Music Venue, all combine to make this a hugely attractive destination with broad appeal. The casino element is just one of a number of components."
Deputy Lowry said the casino is not primarily aimed at the Irish market, but at an international market who already enjoy high stakes gambling. These tourists would end up going to other countries in Europe anyway, if the amenity wasn't available in Ireland.
"It's targeted at the international market, which is a lucrative market. It already exists, and those people who play those types of games would be doing it anyway in other countries. Ireland is losing out on a huge income stream. We are the only country in Europe which doesn't have a casino," added Deputy Lowry.
Deputy Lowry said many people in Ireland already enjoy some gambling in a responsible manner, without becoming addicted, whether it is a night out at Bingo, a Lotto ticket, or a flutter on the horses. "There are people everyday who enjoy gambling as a personal form of entertainment, and do so in a responsible way. Many thousands of people have a flutter every week of the year, in a manner in which they are financially capable of doing."