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Wednesday 1 October 2014

McGuinness 'very happy' about being linked to top Brussels job

Published 07/07/2014 | 02:30

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Mairead McGuinness MEP pictured with husband Martin as she took the 2nd seat at the count in the European Parliament Election North West Midlands Constituency count in the Royal Theatre Castlebar with Jon Mulligan Director of Elections and Emer Smith, Mairead's assistant on right. Photo: Michael Donnelly
Mairead McGuinness MEP pictured with husband Martin as she took the 2nd seat at the count in the European Parliament Election North West Midlands Constituency count in the Royal Theatre Castlebar with Jon Mulligan Director of Elections and Emer Smith, Mairead's assistant on right. Photo: Michael Donnelly
Mairead McGuinness. Photo: Julien Behal/Maxwells

FINE Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has said she would be "very happy" to be selected as Ireland's next EU Commissioner.

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There is increased speculation that Taoiseach Enda Kenny may put her name forward as one of two nominees for the European Commission.

While he is expected to nominate Environment Minister Phil Hogan, it has just emerged that all EU countries have been asked to put forward one male and one female nominee.

This move follows requests from outgoing EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso that more women be put forward for the prestige positions.

The issue of who will be Ireland's representative will be discussed this morning in the meeting of Mr Kenny and new Tanaiste Joan Burton, but Ms McGuinness, pictured, said she would be more than willing to serve if asked.

The Labour Party's new deputy leader Alan Kelly said the role of Commissioner is "up for grabs" between both parties and will form part of reshuffle discussions.

Ms McGuinness has expressed her willingness to serve, having only been returned to the European Parliament in May in the second seat in the Midlands Northwest constituency.

Ms McGuinness said: "If my name is on a piece of paper, I'd be very happy with that."

Ms McGuinness said she hoped that speculation linking her with the job was not just because she is a woman.

"I would hope it is simply more than the fact I am a woman. I do think the job of Commissioner is an important one," she added.

She did concede that she expects Mr Hogan to take the post, saying it has "always been the discussion around the table and it will be the Taoiseach who decides".

Ms McGuinness said the idea of putting forward two nominees is was part of a bid to increase the level of female representation at the head of the EU Commission.

In May's election, Ms McGuinness edged out her party colleague Jim Higgins.

Last week, she became the second Irish person to be elected vice-president of the European Parliament when she got the second highest number of votes from her fellow MEPs.

Irish Independent

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