Meath-based Fine Gael MEP, Mairead McGuinness, has formally nominated as a European election candidate for the party, along with Jim Higgins MEP, in the new Midlands-North-West constituency at a special convention held at the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone.
Ms McGuinness was proposed by party Chairman, Charlie Flanagan TD, and seconded by Joe McHugh TD. The MEP, who was last year elected Vice-Chair of the EPP Group in the European Parliament and was recently appointed leader of the Fine Gael delegation in the European Parliament, has played a key role in a number of important Irish issues, including medical devices legislation and reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Mairead McGuinness told the convention that she had every confidence that Fine Gael could win two seats in the constituency in the elections on May 23rd.
She said: ‘While European Parliamentary affairs do not attract the same level of public attention as the proceedings of Dáil Éireann, the European Parliament is responsible for the vast majority of legislation that governs the daily lives of Irish citizens. It is also the most democratic of all the EU institutions, being the only one directly elected by the people, and now, arising from the Lisbon Treaty, shares co-decision powers with the European Council of Ministers’.
“I look forward to a strong campaign seeking the support of the people of the 15 counties comprising Midlands-North-West. Fine Gael has a tradition of sending able, accomplished politicians to the European Parliament, who deliver for the Irish people. In conjunction with my colleague, Jim Higgins, here in Midlands-North-West and the rest of the Fine Gael team in Ireland South and Dublin, I believe that we are best equipped to give the Irish people the kind of representation that they deserve and need.
“The issues to dominate the elections will be the economy, jobs and growth. The economic crisis has forced us to reassess and analyse our relationship with Europe. The challenge for the future is to rebuild a Europe of solidarity between nations and among European citizens, one that will have learned the right lessons from the financial collapse. Above all else we must rebuild trust in our institutions - trust which has been dented by the crisis. In that context the 2014 European elections will be the most important in the history of our European membership.”
Jim Higgins has said he is honoured to be chosen to contest the new Ireland Midlands-North-West constituency for the European Parliament elections on the 23rd of May. He was selected after being proposed by Leitrim Councillor, John McCartin, and seconded by Galway Senator, Hildegarde Naughton.
“It has been my privilege to represent the Irish people in Ireland Northwest for Fine Gael since 2004. The new Ireland Midlands-North-West constituency takes in a broad sweep of 15 counties, with very different issues. It will be challenging to balance the concerns of counties as diverse as Donegal, Longford, Louth and my own home county of Mayo. This is a challenge that I look forward to. I’m familiar with the issues for the Northwest, the West and the Border region, having represented them for many years. I am eager to speak to the people of the Midlands and the Leinster counties that are now included in this new constituency.
“Decisions made in Europe have a direct impact on the lives of ordinary people. Indeed, 60% of our national legislation comes directly from Europe. This is why it is crucial for Ireland to be at the centre of European decision-making. Our agriculture, our environment and our economy are all interlinked with what goes on in Europe. As Ireland moves towards recovery, the strong relationships we have with our European partners are more important than ever.
“A strong, experienced and accomplished team in the European parliament is a vital part of Ireland’s future. Fine Gael always sends strong people to Europe – former Ministers, and people with the diplomatic and political skills to ensure that Ireland’s voice is heard. The Irish people know what kind of representation they get from Fine Gael, and I am confident that my colleague Mairead McGuinness and I will return two seats here in Ireland Midlands-North-West.
“I look forward to working with the people of this vast and diverse constituency, to ensure that issues that are important to them take centre stage in Europe. The people of Ireland Midlands-North-West deserve the best of representation, and Fine Gael candidates are the best equipped to give the people what they need.”