Local TD Frances Fitzgerald set to run in European Elections

by Padraig Conlon

Local Fine Gael TD and former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has been formally selected by Fine Gael to contest the European Elections on May 24th.

The Fine Gael Selection Convention for Dublin was held on Wednesday night (6th March) in Clontarf Castle Hotel.

Deputy Fitzgerald will contest the election alongside Mark Durkan, former leader of the SDLP, who was unveiled as a Fine Gael candidate earlier this week.

Speaking following her selection, Deputy Fitzgerald told Dublin Gazette she is looking forward to the upcoming campaign.

“I am honoured that the Fine Gael members of Dublin have endorsed my firm intention to retain the seat that Fine Gael fought hard to win for Dublin in 2014 – and that Brian Hayes has so brilliantly served,” she said.

“I want to continue the work, in the setting of the European Parliament, so ably done to date by our Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister McEntee, in representing Ireland’s interests and the challenges that we face in a new post-Brexit scenario.”

Acknowledging the “many challenges” Brexit might create for this country, Deputy Fitzgerald said:

“We must work to ensure that we create new opportunities to ensure that the voice and views of smaller countries are heard in a re-shaped European Union.”

The UK’s decision to leave the EU means the Dublin constituency will return four MEPs after an additional representative was added when the UK’s 27 seats were redistributed among EU states because of Brexit.

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, is to lose its three MEP seats because of the UK’s withdrawal.

Mark Durkan, who was an SDLP MP for Derry from 2005 until 2017, as well as leader of the party from 2001 to 2010, will suspend his SDLP membership in order to run for Fine Gael.

Durkan is not the first SDLP member to run for Fine Gael.

SDLP founding member Austin Currie ran for the party in 1989 and was elected a TD for Dublin West.

“I look forward to working with my running-mate, Mark Durkan,” Deputy Fitzgerald said.

“We share a friendship dating back to the forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin Castle.

“He has shown courage and fortitude in extremely difficult and challenging times on this island.”

Deputy Fitzgerald feels her previous dealings with the EU will be a big plus for her in the upcoming elections.

“I have a record of driving reform and progress across three Government Departments – rooted in my social work in St Ultan’s Children’s’ Hospital; the Mater Hospital and St James’s Hospital – and for 10 years as a social worker in Ballymun,” she said.

“I have long experience at senior level of EU negotiations through participating in the EU Council of Ministers and even longer experience of networking and advocacy.

“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 – and fight for it at every level and on every issue.

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