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Solicitor lines out for Libertas in Euro battle

LIBERTAS activist Caroline Simons will contest the forthcoming European elections.

The solicitor last night claimed she has "as good a chance as anyone" of winning an MEP's seat in the Dublin constituency, despite having less than seven weeks to mount her first campaign among 1.1 million voters.

"I think the politicians in Ireland and Europe have become too complacent and have taken the electorate for granted. I'm the only person running who is a new voice and who will ask the hard questions," she said

Ms Simons, a solicitor living in Ballsbridge in Dublin, worked with Libertas during its campaign against the Lisbon Treaty last year. She is due to launch her campaign in the Connolly Room in Liberty Hall at 6.30pm tonight.

Ms Simons attacked MEPs for voting to conceal their attendance records at the European parliament and an internal report on abuses of their expenses by some members.

"I think if voters knew that, they would be rather annoyed. I think that for those and other reasons, this year might be a time to look at introducing some fresh ideas and new blood," she said.

She joins Libertas founder Declan Ganley, who is running in the Ireland North West constituency in the European Elections, and IFA member Raymond O'Malley, who is running in Ireland East.

But she will be competing against four sitting MEPs in a constituency where the number of seats has dropped to three -- Fianna Fail's Eoin Ryan; Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell; Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald; and Labour's Proinsias De Rossa.


Other candidates include: former Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins; Fianna Fail Lord Mayor of Dublin Eibhlin Byrne; and Green Party senator Deirdre De Burca.

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A group of workers from the aircraft maintenance firm SR Technics had been considering running a candidate in the constituency to highlight their grievances over the planned shutdown of the company but, according to a source, this is now unlikely to happen.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael senator John Paul Phelan is to officially launch his European election campaign for the Ireland East constituency today.

Mr Phelan (30), who entered the Seanad in 2002 as its youngest member, is to run with standing MEP Mairead McGuinness (FG), in the three-seat constituency.

Party leader Enda Kenny and outgoing East MEP Avril Doyle will help launch Mr Phelan's campaign in Kilkenny this morning.

Fianna Fail's Bobby Aylward currently holds the third seat.

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