The most important European election campaign issues for me are:
- Health - Housing
- Environment - Business & Employment
- Farming & Animal Welfare - Rural & Urban Regeneration.
On a more general perspective, here is what I believe in:
HEALTH: One of my three core areas, and the area I am most passionate about. I want Europe to know about the chronic, endemic and systematic failings in our health service – patients on trolleys, lack of 24 hour cardiac care in the South East, the lethal incompetence around cervical cancer – and for the EU to bring top down pressure on the Irish Government, Dept of Health and HSE to force them to deliver a better service. We can use the models that work in Europe and replicate them here
HOUSING: Another of my three core areas. It’s patently clear to everyone in Ireland - apart from FF and FG - that our current approach to housing is a spectacular failure. It is also patently clear to everyone in Ireland - apart from FF and FG – that the state needs to start building houses. The big parties are incapable of solving the problem, and I want to start by pushing for more EU funds and input into house building by the state.
ENVIRONMENT: The third of my three core areas. If we carry on in the next 50 years like we have in the last 50 years, I worry about what will happen to our children. We have made some progress, but it’s too little and too slow. We need to think big, and we need to think long term. The recent protests from schoolchildren across Europe underline this point. Some simple immediate measures – like putting a 25c deposit on plastic bottles – would be a great start! And as a personal commitment to the environment, I am not using plastic posters in my campaign,
PEOPLE FIRST: I want the EU to start putting people first, not businesses. This approach demonstrates the greatest failing of the current political system: the vast majority of our politicians are completely disconnected from real people and the real world. Of course business is central to our lives, but I believe the current EU approach is focused too much on corporate and rich elites, for example with regard to taxation. Ordinary people pay taxes, and the big corporate should too! I don’t believe in high taxes, but I do believe in fair taxes!
DEFENCE FORCES: I fully support the campaign of the WPDF (Wives &Partners of the Defence Forces) to restore decent pay and conditions for those who serve our country. I also support Ireland’s neutrality, and am against our membership of a European Army under PESCO.
FARMING: as a farmer’s daughter, I believe we have the best farmers in the world here in Ireland, and I want that to remain the case. The Common Agricultural Policy does a great job of supporting our farmers, and we need to keep things that way at the same time as introducing more genuine support for rural Ireland. But we also need to recognise that there more work to do: sorting out Brexit is the most immediate concern! But longer term we also need to look at issues like sustainability and protecting the environment.
EU FUNDING: I have two priorities here: (1) the Irish government has to do much better with regard to matched funding (we are missing out on investment because the state is reluctant to provide matched funding, plus some counties do not have a dedicated EU funding officer. (2) Also, we need to move away from the Dublin-centric approach and divert much more effort, funding and initiative towards the South.
INDEPENDENCE: the South of Ireland is crying out for an independent voice to represent them in the EU. Ask yourself this question: will FF and FG truly represent your views, or will they put their party and their elite cronies first? Politics need a bit more common sense, compassion and independence, and a little less elitism, cronyism and slavish devotion to flawed party principles.
DISABILITY RIGHTS: there is no other way to say it: Ireland has a totally shameful record when it comes to disability rights. Ireland took more than 12 years to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, and was the last EU state to do so. The big parties may talk the talk when it comes to disability rights, but if you look at their track record, can they really be trusted to do the right thing? We need to do far more work on tackling disabled discrimination, and treat it in the same way that we approach racism and sexism. Again we need more top down pressure from Europe! I full commit to the Disabled Federation of Ireland’s manifesto, and promise to do my very best to implement it in full, working alongside them.
WOMEN’S RIGHTS: As one of only five women in a chamber of 24 councillors, I experienced firsthand the macho and bullying atmosphere that is often prevalent in politics. But it is only by being in the game that you can hope to change things. I believe that conduct and behaviour has improved in the chamber in Kilkenny since I was elected. Having good role models is fundamental to improving women’s rights, and that is one of the reasons why I have put myself forward in both the European and Local Elections.
LIBRARIES: I am absolutely, 100% committed to the importance and support of libraries in our communities. For that reason, I fully endorse the Library Association of Ireland and their participation in A Library Manifesto for Europe.
5G MOBILE: until such time that there is more widely available research on the safety of 5G, I do not support its roll out. I am also concerned about the environmental impact of the huge numbers of additional masts that will be needed, and that because those masts work best with a clear line of sight, that trees will be cut down. Finally I have massive worries about the data protection, privacy and security issues around the vast amount of personal data that 5G technology collects, especially with regard to location.