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A candidate for Fine Gael. View party
Seán Kelly
Fine Gael
EU alliance
European People's Party Group

Seán Kelly is a sitting MEP representing Ireland South and has been a member of the EU Parliament since 2009. He is the leader of Fine Gael’s contingent in Europe and sits on a number of committees covering trade, industry and fisheries. He was president of the GAA between 2003 and 2006.

Question time
What do you deem the most important issue for the European Union now and what would you like to see happen in that area?

The most important issue for me is the EU budget – this underpins everything we can achieve from a policy and political perspective. Europe is facing many challenges and I am under absolutely no illusions that things have been difficult for citizens in recent times. Inflation has returned, costs have gone up, and an energy crisis way beyond our control has made life increasingly more challenging and expensive for people.

We must ensure that the EU – and the EU's budget - is there to help.

Firstly, farmers are the custodians of the land. They are the ones who put food on the table, support our major export industries, but also they’re the ones who can deliver the transition to sustainability. They must be paid properly for doing so. We need to revisit the CAP budget, secure family farm incomes, and pay our farmers properly to deliver the twin challenges of food security and sustainability.

Additionally, there is a wealth of EU funding available for our small businesses and projects, but I constantly hear from business owners these are not easy to access. I want to simplify these funds, make them more accessible, and help our businesses and communities to reap the benefits of what we have put in place in Europe.

Thirdly, I believe we need to see an ambitious strategy for a sustainable European Economy powered by Irish renewables. Ireland has the best renewable resources on the planet - offshore and onshore. We can be the powerhouse of Europe with the right plan and a properly functioning planning system. An EU strategy to develop renewables in Irish waters for the benefit of the entire continent will allow us reach our potential, drive investment into Irish rural and coastal communities, meet climate targets, and, crucially, drive down our energy costs.

Lastly, I want the EU budget to recognise the potential of our town centres and work more closely with community groups to fund the often modest projects that can instill a new lease of life into our towns and communities.

What group will you be aligned with in the European Parliament, should you win a seat? What do you see as their priorities?

I will be aligned to the European People's Party (EPP) Group. Fine Gael is a founding member, and it is the largest and most influential political group in the European parliament. Our Group advocates for a robust Europe founded on democratic principles rather than autocratic governance. It envisions a Europe that prioritizes stable employment, supporting families, and upholding freedoms, justice, and democracy while also ensuring we deliver a just transition.

The EPP champions a competitive European landscape that fosters economic growth, generates quality jobs, and ensures a prosperous future for all. The EPP Group promotes and advocates for environmental sustainability, seeking to balance ecological preservation with economic advancement, food security, and streamlined bureaucracy, while fostering innovation and a forward-thinking energy union. Additionally, it seeks to facilitate citizens' and businesses' access to global markets through equitable and mutually beneficial trade agreements with like-minded nations.

Furthermore, the EPP advocates for a citizen-centric Europe, emphasizing family support, equal opportunities, gender parity, and intergenerational solidarity. It underscores the importance of safeguarding the vulnerable, both in digital and physical realms, and prioritises ensuring that technological advancements serve the welfare of individuals.

As leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, I have consistently lobbied and advocated for practical policies that allow Europe’s economy to transition to one that is sustainable and is powered by clean renewable sources of energy. This cannot happen overnight, therefore it is imperative that we take the right steps to ensure that we see progression delivered in a way that leaves nobody behind.

Why should someone vote for you?

People should vote for me because now, more than ever, it is critical to have an experienced, hard-working voice for Ireland, with a strong network of connections in senior positions, if we are to continue to successfully influence in Europe. I have the hunger and the energy to work tirelessly on behalf of the people of Ireland South, and I have a clear understanding of the issues affecting Irish people. I have delivered legislative change at the highest level throughout my 15 years in office and have a proven track record delivering deals in challenging negotiations.

For example, this parliamentary term, I played a key role as a lead negotiator in securing a deal on the EU Buildings Directive, which will help to support people renovating their homes, cutting their energy bills, and driving down emissions.

I also led critical negotiations on Brexit Trade enforcement laws to safeguard the proper functioning of the all island economy and ensured Northern Irish voices were heard in the process.

Last term, I worked to secure the trade agreement with Singapore, a gateway to the important South East Asia region, and worth around €700 million to Irish exporters each year. I continue to work for new market access in the region. Also last term, I was instrumental in securing a 32% Renewable Energy target, which effectively kick-started the renewable energy revolution we are witnessing across Ireland and Europe today.

This is just a glimpse into my work; I've also been involved in numerous other important reports and legislative initiatives over the last 15 years, and I have consistently been among the top MEPs in Europe for speaking time, voting attendance, participation in debates and work rate. I take great pride representing the people of Ireland South and voluntarily declare all my meetings on my public record so you can see the work I am doing on your behalf.

connect with Seán Kelly