Former Rose of Tralee winner Maria Walsh is joining Mairead McGuinness in seeking the Fine Gael nominations to contest the European elections in the Midlands/North-West Constituency.
The Fine Gael European selection convention for the Midlands/North West constituency will be held in Mullingar later this month and Ms Walsh today said she wants to become an MEP.
“Five years ago I was chosen as the 2014 Rose of Tralee, an honour which brought me all around this great country, but more importantly, it gave me a platform to make a positive impact in people's lives. I have been to every county in Midlands/North-West, meeting community groups and farming organisations, promoting good mental health for our young people as an ambassador for Jigsaw, discussing patriotism and history with schoolkids and parents as an Ambassador for the Thomas Francis Meagher Foundation, playing Gaelic football, and on manoeuvres with the Irish reserves.
“Everywhere I go, I meet people of all ages with the same hopes and concerns. The same constant questions crop up. ‘Will there be enough opportunities for me to raise my family in rural Ireland and for my children to stay here after that? How will the next CAP reform affect my family farm? How will Brexit affect my business?’
“I want to be a strong and effective voice for all with these concerns. I want to go to the European Parliament and help find the best answers and implement the solutions to those difficult questions.
“As a girl who grew up in the West of Ireland, I see the abundance of opportunities that we in the Midlands/North-West have to offer. From our beautiful rural villages like Shrule and Leitirmore to communities like Westport and Letterkenny, we are incredibly lucky to have diverse and talented resources. This is a pivotal time for all concerned here and I want to effect change,” Ms Walsh said.
“I want to become an MEP and represent the interests of a wide constituency that is going through many changes.
“As we can see from the events of recent years and months, it is absolutely vital that Ireland’s voice is heard at a European level. We have seen through the efforts of our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney and all else on the Fine Gael and Government team what our diplomatic efforts have achieved. Our concerns are at the centre of European interests in the ongoing Brexit debate – not bad for a small island in the North Atlantic.
“I believe, if elected which I am determined to do, I can make a valuable contribution in that ongoing debate and represent our local and rural concerns at an international level. I am always first and foremost a proud west of Ireland woman with an unyielding commitment to achieving good progress on behalf of our communities.
“I appreciate entering politics and trying to get a seat at the European Parliament is a daunting task but throughout my life, I have constantly faced obstacles and challenges head on and overcome them. That is why I am first of all, asking the members of Fine Gael to nominate me as a candidate on 22nd February and then canvass the people of the Midlands and North-West to support me in May’s European elections,” Ms Walsh said.
The Fine Gael European election convention for the Midlands/North West constituency will be held on Friday 22nd February at Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar. There are four seats on offer in the constituency.
Profile: Maria Walsh
Maria Walsh was born in Boston and raised along the Mayo-Galway border in Shrule. Her mother, Noreen, grew up in Leitirmore in Connemara and her father, Vincent, is from Roundfort, Co Mayo. She has three siblings; Kevin, Eileen and Mikey.
Maria rose to national attention in August 2014 when crowned the International Rose of Tralee. On stage in front of millions of people in Ireland and across the Diaspora, Maria shared stories of working on her father’s farm, the importance of the RSA (Road Safety Authority), being a pioneer, and the positive impact the many Irish living in Philadelphia had made on her.
At the age of 12, Maria took her Pioneer Pledge and this year will celebrate her 20th anniversary with the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association.
Maria passed out as a two Star 1ACS Trooper for the Reserve Defence Force in 2018, and is currently completing her three Star training with 1MIC. Maria received a Marksmanship Award during her passing out.
At age 31, Maria is believed to be the youngest candidate seeking election at the upcoming 2019 European Elections.
Maria worked as a project coordinator for the national event honoring the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries.
Maria was a contributor to RTE’s Would you Believe broadcast discussing the Pope’s visit and beliefs the Catholic Church has towards LGBTQI community. Filmed in Shrule, Maria spoke at length about the relationship she has with her parish priest and her belief in understanding the importance of having a spiritual influence in her life.
Maria is the National Ambassador to Jigsaw Mental Health organization that supports young people between the ages of 12-25 throughout the country.
Maria is a schools ambassador for the Thomas F Meagher Foundation. Setup in 2013, Maria joined the Foundation in 2017 to share and discuss with young people the importance of having pride in and respect for our national flag – the Irish tricolour.