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Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness interested in taking over role as EU Trade Commissioner

Phil Hogan resigned from the role following his attendance at a controversial golf dinner in Galway.

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness
Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness
Image: PA

FINE GAEL MEP Mairead McGuinness has said she is interested in becoming Ireland’s EU Commissioner.

Citing her years of work in Brussels, McGuinness has made clear her ambition to succeed Phil Hogan, who resigned as EU trade commissioner last week.

Hogan was among more than 80 people at a golf event in the west of Ireland, as the country tries to contain a new spike in Covid-19 cases and limit social gatherings.

McGuinness, who is the European Parliament vice-president, said she has been in the Parliament for 16 years.

“People understand what I do. I’ve risen to the position of first vice-president,” she told RTÉ.

“None of the achievements, which have been achievements for Ireland, were handed to me. They were worked hard for.

“I have great credibility in the Parliament and in the Commission and indeed in some of the global organisations and I work well with people.

“They say of me in the Parliament that I am fair but firm, and that’s exactly what I am. I am a very fair chair of the European Parliament but I don’t let people away with it, and I am recognised for that.

“It’s important to say that the job I do now is an important one, it’s one that I worked hard to get to. I work well with the president of the Parliament.

“The European Parliament probably doesn’t get enough attention here probably because we have the Irish parliament but as we look to the future, the role of the European Parliament and indeed now in selecting a commission candidate in and ratifying them is pivotal, and I think we should remember that.”

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Discussions of who the Irish government will put forward to fill the role will continue this week after the  EU called on Dublin to put forward a male and female candidate.

Other names expected to be considered include Fine Gael MEP Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

Veteran politician Hogan faced deep disquiet from the Irish Government and intense scrutiny of whether his extensive movements around the country broke coronavirus regulations.

His resignation came a week after revelations of the golf dinner emerged.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said she respected the resignation of Hogan, adding that she was “very grateful” for his “tireless and successful work”.

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