Gilmore hails Euro-poll candidate
Published 09/03/2014 | 15:42
The principles of tolerance, freedom and human rights must be Ireland's "calling cards" abroad, Tanaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore insisted as he welcomed confirmation that Phil Prendergast will be a European election candidate for the party.
Mrs Prendergast, an outgoing MEP for the Ireland South constituency, which encompasses ten counties in Munster and Leinster, will hope to extend her stay in Brussels when she goes to the polls in May.
The 54-year-old former senator from Co Kilkenny was the only name to go forward to the party's selection convention in Cork.
Attending the convention with party colleagues, Mr Gilmore said the forthcoming European election could be the most important in recent times, warning of the potential for a sizeable far right grouping in the parliament.
He said the ongoing economic recovery had to work for working people.
Mr Gilmore said his party had a "proud and progressive" tradition and had campaigned for a more modern, more open Ireland.
"But the principles of tolerance, freedom and human rights must also be Ireland's calling cards abroad, and in our engagement with the European Union," he added.
"2014 may be the most important European election we have fought, since Ireland joined the European Union. An election that has the potential to shape the character of the Union."
He added: "Ireland, and Europe, need the progressive values of our movement. And the people who will stand up and fight for them. Our candidate for Ireland South, Phil Prendergast, is no stranger to standing up for what she believes in."
Mrs Prendergast said she would leave no stone unturned in the bid to keep "Labour values" at the heart of communities.
"These European elections will have a profound impact on the future direction of the European Union project," she said.
"Not only will they determine the Presidency of the European Commission, but for the first time ever, the Treaty of Lisbon means that the Parliament will dictate the pace and direction of change for the next five years. It is the Parliament and its members who will decide what sort of EU we will be looking at in 2019, one still talking about bond yields and interest rates, or one talking about people, and families, and communities."
Fianna Fail today nominated two candidates to contest the Ireland South constituency.
At an event in Tipperary, sitting MEP Brian Crowley and Waterford-based activist Kieran Hartley were selected to stand in the May poll.
Kilkenny-based candidate Adrian O'Higgins, who was nominated for convention, withdrew from the race.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said: "There are many challenges facing Ireland and Europe and we need MEPs who will represent people's concerns and play a constructive role in tackling issues.
"We have selected a great balance between proven experience and a new face. There's a reason why Brian Crowley has won the first seat in every one of the last four European elections - he's a great MEP.
"I don't believe there is a single MEP from anywhere in Europe who matches his energy for getting out and engaging with the people he represents. Every week without fail he is out on the road meeting groups, keeping them informed and listening to them. Now, more than ever, Ireland needs Brian Crowley working for it in Europe.
"I am very happy that joining Brian on the ticket we have Kieran Hartley. As a growing party which is striving to represent the people of a modern, changing country, the ability to attract new people is vital for us. Go throughout this country and you find communities outraged by a government which just doesn't seem interested in listening to their concerns. Services they rely on are being closed down and projects they are against are being imposed against their will.
"Kieran has a real drive and commitment to serving people on the full range of issues. He's a republican who believes in building a state which serves the people, and building a Europe which works with member states and listens to its citizens is an essential part of this."