Good evening MEP Mitchell, Ministers, Deputies, Senators, Councillors, members, friends! It’s great to see such a big crowd which shows how strong Fine Gael is in Dublin.
I would like to thank those who nominated me.
To those of you whom I have not yet met,
• I was elected to Dublin City Council in 2009 and was elected to the last Seanad on the Industrial and Commercial Panel
• I am a practising Solicitor and
• I am also the Seanad Spokesperson on European Affairs on which joint committee I also sit.
Since being elected to the Seanad I have focused my efforts on informing and updating the electorate regarding
• consumer affairs,
• specific health issues such as obesity and our relationship with alcohol and smoking, and
• tourism to name a few.
What is clear is that a vast number of issues which govern our daily lives are significantly influenced and/or controlled by Europe. To be interested in public representation in Ireland today therefore requires a deep interest and knowledge of European affairs and how to get things done in Europe.
Alongside my work in the Seanad I have always had this interest and I have developed it through my membership of the European Affairs Committee as well as my practise as a Solicitor. I speak fluent Italian and have a working knowledge of French and German. The ability to Negotiate is key for any politician but in particular as an MEP. I have had the opportunity to hone those skills in my legal practise.
This has been rewarded by my Parliamentary party and I have been given many opportunities in this regard. In addition to my European committee work, I have addressed a European Conference on Cyber Bullying in Brussels recently and last week attended meetings on enlargement with representatives of other countries who wish to garner an insight into the Irish experience, and how a smaller country can retain influence in an enlarged Europe.
There is no doubt that there is a disconnect between the voter and the EU. The reasons for this are multifaceted. There is no doubt that the media could play a part in enhancing this relationship. Since being elected to the Seanad I have consistently issued press releases on EU matters in which for the most part the media pay very little attention – yet clearly issues such as plain packaging and alcohol related issues and a variety of consumer affairs issues have a huge impact of this lives of citizens. I would urge those media colleagues here present to pay more attention to the EU.
It will therefore come as no surprise that the idea of representing the electorate in Dublin on behalf of Fine Gael in Europe crossed my mind!
The reason I am speaking to you this evening is because I too was nominated to contest this convention and if the strategy had been to run two candidates – I believe I would have a lot to offer the ticket and would perhaps enhance and even broaden the Fine Gael appeal to the electorate. However it appears that on this occasion Brian will have to travel solo!
I believe the selection of Brian Hayes as the Fine Gael Candidate in Dublin is an excellent choice and I have no doubt whatever that he will win a seat. The calm and assertive manner in which he has overseen the work of the OPW and as junior Minister working alongside Michael Noonan in Finance at a time of unprecedented challenge, has demonstrated his undoubted talent and ability. I give him my unqualified support and I urge the membership here to do the same.
I will therefore withdraw my nomination.
This election is extremely important for our Party and Government, coming as it does in the middle of our term in Office. This Government has made huge strides in putting this country on a stable and firm footing once again. A significant winning margin for Brian Hayes in Dublin will solidify and encourage this Government in its ongoing difficult work.
Brian I wish you every success!