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'I try to say what I mean and mean what I say' - Ronan Mullen on faith, Europe and farming

Stepping out of the Seanad to run in a massive constituency, Ronan Mullen is aiming to take a seat in the European Parliament.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 7.53pm

AS WELL AS being Ireland’s largest geographical constituency, Midlands-North West may also have the largest contingent of heavy-hitting politicians on the ballot paper.

Former ministers, high-profile independents and up-and-coming party candidates mean that the race for headlines, and more importantly votes, is going to be tight.

So why would independent senator Ronan Mullen, who has seen his Seanad vote increase on the NUI panel, want to head for Brussels?

“Even though it was daunting to consider the constituency, I much prefer canvassing the wider electorate.

“Why the European Union? Because it allows me to achieve the idea I have of making proposals that protect the idea of human dignity, but in a very practical way. More and and more decisions affecting Ireland are made at European level.

“Two thirds of our laws are made at European level.”

Conviction

Mullen has become known in the last 18 months for his pro-life beliefs, but he says that the idea of him as a single issue politician is a media construct.

“I always regarded myself as a conviction politician. I try to say what I mean and mean what I say.

“I try to work out what I believe to be true in the interests of the wider community.

“Of course you’re more likely to get calls from the Dublin media on one issue, but on Galway Bay FM I’m well known as a guy from Ahascragh. who’s a farmer’s son.”

He says that he is happy that most people don’t associate him solely with the abortion debate.

“I have a stubborn streak and I don’t go along with the political agenda.

“My priority is to improve peoples’ lives based on what I believe to be the facts; be that on nursing homes, agriculture or abortion.”

Issues

Mullen says he believes that hospice care, particularly in rural areas is a particular interest to him, as is leveraging the best from Europe. He says, however, that the economy remains the number one priority.

“I talk to people all the time who are wondering how they are going to cope with water charges, property taxes and the broadcasting charge.

“These are people who don’t have two or three euro in their pockets and there’s a lot of decisions made in the European Parliament that affect the economic well-being of those people.”

But, can an independent have an impact on a 751-seat parliament?

“I think the public are well aware of the good that independents can do.

“I’m willing to work with a number of groups. I think party members in Europe are always looking over their shoulders to see what their bosses back home are thinking.”

Faith

Mullen’s faith is obviously a guiding force in his life and his politics, but to what extent does it define him?

He says that he tries to work from his “deepest convictions”.

“Everything that I have ever said in politics has to pass two tests: it has to be what I believe and it has to be reasonable.

“It has to work for people of faith and of no faith.”

He says that his belief that we are all made in God’s image informs his beliefs on capital punishment and abortion, but says that his points of view make sense whether a person has faith or not.

“I am a public representative and I don’t see myself as a defender of faith, I see myself as a salesman for certain on ideas on how we should treat people.

“That’s my philosophy as a politician.”

The EU pop quiz

We give an EU pop quiz to all of the candidates we interview. Here’s how Ronan Mullen got on:

What as the last country to join the EU? Croatia

How many seats will the EU have after the elections? 751, down from 766

What year did Ireland officially join the Euro? 2001. (He then corrects this to 2002)

Originally published 5pm

Read: Labour European elections candidate: ‘The EU isn’t a retirement ground’

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