Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan is an Irish politician and social campaigner. He began his political career running unsuccessfully as an independent candidate in the Galway West constituency in 1997, and went on to contest the Connaught Ulster constituency in the European elections of 1999 and the Longford-Roscommon constituency in the 2002 Dáil election. On none of these occasions did he reach two per cent of the vote.
He was not portrayed by the media as a serious candidate, shaving his hair and styling his beard in the way of Ming the Merciless from the film Flash Gordon. His posters and other election material featured cannabis leafs, and legalisation of the plant was one of his main policy platforms. He voiced uncompromising support for radical social and environmental issues, and displayed a knack for using the media, being featured in many newspapers and radio programmes who were attracted by his colourful appearance and strong rhetoric.
In 2001 he hit the headlines when he sent more than 200 cannabis cigarettes to politicians in the Oireachtas, one to each TD and senator, as part of his campaign to have cannabis legalised.
He returned to his native Castlerea and contested the 2004 local elections, and was elected to Roscommon County Council, topping the poll and getting elected on the first count, defeating sitting councilors John Murray and Danny Burke. He was re-elected on the first count in June 2009, receiving 16.8% of 1st preference votes in his Castlerea electoral area, and exceeding the quota by 394 votes.