Ireland’s relationship with the EU has never been more critical – Fitzgerald

-   Frances Fitzgerald TD

A Fine Gael European Election candidate has urged voters to ensure that Ireland’s representation in the next European Parliament is experienced to deal with impending critical scenarios post-Brexit.

Speaking ahead of the Fine Gael National Conference in Wexford, Former Tánaiste and Government Minister, Frances Fitzgerald said that the outcome of the upcoming European Elections would ultimately shape the future of Europe.

Deputy Fitzgerald said: “On May 24th, the Irish electorate will vote in the most important European Elections that our nation has experienced since first joining the European Union. Ireland’s interests must be protected against the challenges that we face in a new post-Brexit scenario. We must work now to create new opportunities, to ensure that the voices and views of smaller countries are heard, and that we proactively influence the agenda in the reshaped post-Brexit Europe.

“Every major decision for Ireland – from climate change to the EU Budget to intellectual property rights to financial services – will be centre-stage for decision in the next European Parliament. Ireland must send its best team to Europe. A team that puts their country first. A team that knows how to influence and know how to negotiate. We need MEPs who can build consensus and who can build coalitions.

“Events over the last number of years have dispelled the assumption that the centre – be it left or right – holds against extremism. We cannot assume that anymore. We have to defend it and advance it. And let’s be very clear – fighting to defend and advance the centre is not fighting for the establishment or the status-quo.

“It is fighting for decent wages and living standards, childcare, good public services and infrastructure, funded by an economy that works for people and not the other way around. It is fighting against those who exploit fear and exclusion to pedal false hope for their own aims. It is advancing the social and economic progress we have made. It is ensuring that the EU keeps its values at its core by championing democracy, the rule of law and freedom of expression at home and abroad.

“My commitment is to defend and speak up for Europe and its inherent values of freedom, peace, democracy, minority rights, solidarity. I want to make a commitment to everyone here and especially to the people of Dublin – that if elected my objective is to negotiate the best outcome I can for Ireland – and to deliver the results that Ireland deserves and needs.

“I have the energy, the experience and the direction to make this happen. I have a record of driving reform and change, honed during my political experience representing two Dublin constituencies over 18 years and driving reform as Tánaiste and as a Government Minister.

“And if I do receive the honour of representing Dublin in the European Parliament, I will carry forward the principle of inclusivity and a rights-based approach that has always guided me – and fight for it at every level and on every issue.

“But of course a great, world class city can only exist in a prosperous and inclusive Ireland that fully plays its part in a strong, democratic, confident Europe. The European Union has been supportive to Ireland – and not just in the years following Brexit. Let us return our support by ensuring that a high turnout is achieved on May 24th – and that we stand ready to send our strongest voices to support our European Union,” Deputy Fitzgerald said.

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