Don't let cash determine poll success, says Harris
FINE Gael European candidate Simon Harris has attacked high-spending candidates – but says he isn't pointing the finger at his own running mates.
The party's other candidates in Ireland South, Deirdre Clune and Sean Kelly, appear to have huge resources behind their campaigns, with buses and billboards galore in Munster and south Leinster.
Mr Harris said an independent electoral commission is necessary to stop candidates "buying" a seat in the European election.
But the Wicklow TD said he wasn't accusing his fellow Fine Gael candidates of being all style and no substance.
"I don't believe in the politics of attack," he said.
He said there were candidates, who he was not naming, "with huge resources to spend massive amounts of money simply promoting a name and an image without having to engage on the important European issues".
Mr Harris said the commission would oversee spending and organise debates.
"There is little enough on the central issues and very little forums to debate them. We need an independent commission to host debates so candidates can't actually just spend money on posters," he said.
Mr Harris said there was a risk of elections to the European Parliament being reduced to "mere popularity contests" based on who has the most posters or the largest amount of funds to spend.
He said there were numerous example of how MEPs could assist their constituents. He cited the low level of applications from Ireland for the €70bn EU research and innovation funds.
"This election isn't about candidates. There are billions at stake. You are not having the engagement you would have in a general election," he said.