MEP Marian Harkin won't seek re-election to Europe after 15 years
MEP Marian Harkin will not be seeking re-election in May after nearly 15 years in the European Parliament.
The Sligo politician’s decision opens up a gap in the vast Midlands/North West constituency which stretches across 14 counties from Donegal to Kildare.
The other sitting MEPs, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Ind), Mairead McGuinness (FG) and Matt Carthy (SF) are all standing.
Ms Harkin said today that while she still has a “real passion” for politics, she believes she has made her contribution “in the most positive way I could”.
She said the EU is “a vital force for good in the world and a place where Ireland, as a small nation, can stand on its own two feet but, at the same time, benefit from the strength of 28 Member States working together.
“I came into politics from the voluntary sector, first as a TD representing Sligo/Leitrim and subsequently as an MEP. During that time I have worked to represent ordinary people, community groups, workers, farmers, credit unions, carers, people with disabilities and many others,” Ms Harkin said.
“One of my objectives has always been to act as a bridge between Irish citizens and the European institutions particularly in regard to access and, of course, representation.
“Bringing Europe closer to the citizen has never been just a slogan for me, it has been an essential part of my work. Most people do not have a full understanding of what MEPs’ are engaged in but they trust their MEPs to represent their interests at all the different levels in the European institutions.”
Her absence from the ballot papers opens the door for a new MEP, with Fianna Fáil in poll position to make a gain.
The party has selected former minister Brendan Smith and first-time TD Anne Rabbitte.
Fine Gael will run former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh along Ms McGuinness, who is currently vice-president of the European Parliament.
The Labour Party has nominated Dominic Hannigan. Other candidates declared include Saoirse McHugh (Green Party), Michael O’Dowd (Renua) and Cyril Breen (People Before Profit).