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Question: What's the one thing you think you could realistically achieve at European level?

Rural investment, housing and health were popular topics mentioned by candidates.

In our audit of the Midlands North West European election candidates, we asked candidates to answer questions on nine of the most pressing issues facing Ireland and Europe in the coming years.  

What’s the one thing you think you could realistically achieve at European level that would affect people’s day-to-day life in Ireland?

Mairead McGuinness

The focus of my work has always been for and about people. My achievements reflect my work which has a direct and indirect impact on the lives of the people I represent.

Achieving the role of First Vice-President of the Parliament with the support of 75pc of members is testament to my ability to work with representatives of all other member states, which is how you get things done in Europe. I have used my position to build relationships and gather support for our Brexit agenda. I am very vocal in international media and in the Parliament. In the next term I would continue to work for a close relationship between the EU and the UK, with Ireland’s interests protected – so people particularly in the border region can live their day-to-day lives as they do today.

In the wake of the breast implant scandal, I was a lead negotiator on legislation on medical devices (now being implemented) to ensure increased patient safety. The legislation increases patient trust and confidence in medical devices but also enables innovation in the sector that ultimately saves and prolongs lives, and improves the quality of life of people  – anything from hip replacements to heart stents. Over 25,000 people in Ireland work in the medical devices industry, many in the Midlands-North-West constituency.

On agriculture, I have pushed hard for fairness in the food supply chain for many years. My work paid off when Commissioner Hogan took up the initiative and we now have legislation that will – for the first time – curtail the capacity of retailers to squeeze farmers. It is a stepping stone to correct power imbalances and towards a more sustainable food supply chain. Farmers are rightly angry that the reward for their work is low with retailers and middlemen gaining at their expense.

Maria Walsh

I live in the West of Ireland, I see the effect of rural isolation and lack of mental health services in our communities. I want to deliver funding through establishing a European Year of Good Mental Health, which will bring additional funding to community groups in our region. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of resources for mental health services in the West and North West.

Brendan Smith 

To secure Brexit mitigation measures for all sectors of the economy. We need a fair and fully funded CAP supporting the farming/agri-food sector and rural development. Infrastructural needs of urban and rural communities must be supported by the EU.

Anne Rabbitte

I worked in the banking sector in Galway for over 25 years, offering support and advice to a range of clients – from individuals, young families and those planning for retirement, to start-ups and established businesses. Such a depth of knowledge and expertise in the area of finance and investment has been cultivated over many years. It is a valuable skill that I intend to put to good use at the EU level. A key priority for me, if elected, is to target and maximise EU investment through the likes of the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank for physical infrastructure in the Midlands-North-West.

We need to improve the standards of transportation, for example, so people can have more realistic commutes between home and work. We need to provide the tools for a better work-life balance so people aren’t stuck in traffic several hours of the day.

We need to start thinking outside the box and our rail network is one area that we could look at overhauling. Why aren’t we investigating a high-speed point to point rail service? Why does it take two and a half hours to travel from Galway to Dublin on the train when there’s technology that could shorten it to an hour? It would then be a reasonable proposition that someone could live in Galway and work in Dublin or vice-versa. The impact on people’s day-to-day lives would be enormous.

We’re talking about an upgrade of existing lines, so we wouldn’t be getting caught up in planning. This would also reduce the potential cost, making the feasibility of the project more realistic and allow for it to be delivered in a reasonable timeframe.

Matt Carthy

If I am re-elected by the people of the Midlands North West, one major priority for me will be fighting the EU’s proposed ‘Vulture Fund’ Directive on creating a secondary market for non-performing loans – a proposal that aims to give free rein to vulture funds and debt collectors across the EU.

Housing is the biggest issue affecting people in my constituency. This Directive, if allowed to pass, will encourage the banks to throw their customers to the wolves, through the mass sell-offs of mortgages on family homes to vulture funds.  It will interfere with any attempts to regulate vulture funds in Ireland, fueling the housing and homelessness crisis. I believe it can be stopped and I will my position as an MEP to do what I can to protect family homes from vulture funds.

Saoirse McHugh

By joining the Greens/EFA in the EU I could contribute to a strong stance on climate change and biodiversity loss so people in Ireland will not face the most devastating of environmental breakdown consequences.

Cyril Brennan

Workers Rights. I want to push for EU-wide legislation to increase the number of holidays for workers. I want to reverse the changes on pensions and ensure that 65 is restored as the normal age for receiving a state pension. If the EU has directives which lead to privatisation, I want to push for directives which extend workers rights.

Michael O’Dowd

As a parent of a young person with special needs I will highlight the way Ireland continues to treat people with a disability as second class citizens. Our failure to fully implement the UN Convention is an insult to all who believe in true integration in our society.

Patrick Greene 

By facilitating the use of direct democracy (DD) in decision making by the people of Ireland we can strengthen our negotiations with bigger EU states that dominate us by virtue of their size, not their fairness. I will endeavour to bring direct democracy or citizen initiated referenda to this country and the EU. I can achieve a local direct democratic system very swiftly it will not be legally binding but I will treat it as if it is. Who is going to say no to the result of a vote by the people from a properly structured transparent voting system it would be political suicide for them to object. So by introducing DD I can make immediate changes that the people of Ireland can avail of. This alone will make a direct impact on their lives.

Peter Casey

I want the Midlands-North West to become the Mecca of Ireland, a place where people want to live and work and a place where they can prosper. We must revitalise rural towns and to make this happen requires hard work, more jobs and most of all, new thinking.

Fidelma Healy Eames 

RURAL DIRECT INVESTMENT.

About the author:

Kathleen McNamee

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