Belmullet-based Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway-Walsh says she intends to defend her party’s county council seat at the next local elections, even if she is selected as the party’s candidate for the European elections.
The Sinn Féin candidate for the North-West European Parliament constituency will be ratified at the party’s convention in Sligo on February 24. The next local and European elections are expected to take place on the same day in 2014. Cllr Conway-Walsh, who was first elected to Mayo County Council in 2009, has confirmed that if she is selected as the party’s European candidate, she will run in both elections.
“It would be my intention to run for the local elections as well,” she told The Mayo News. “If you look at the other MEP candidates who ran [for Sinn Féin] – Pearse Doherty in 2004 and Padraig MacLochainn in 2009 – they all ran in their local elections as well. I intend to do the same. That is if I am chosen as the European candidate, and that will depend on what happens at the convention. But I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Cllr Conway-Walsh was the party’s substitute candidate for the past two European elections, and she said running is something she has been considering for a while. The North-West constituency is geographically the largest in Ireland, spanning from Malin Head in Donegal to Clare, taking in all of Connacht, as well as Cavan, Monaghan, Westmeath and Longford.
Monaghan county councillor Matt Carthy is the only other Sinn Féin member to confirm plans to contest the convention. However, Cllr Conway-Walsh believes that the candidate should be from the west of the constituency, close to the centre of population.
She explained that since she was first elected as a county councillor she has seen how European directives impact the west of Ireland, and that she feels the parliament needs an alternative voice.
“Since I was elected it has been obvious to me that many decisions that affect the people are made at European level, and I don’t feel we have an alternative voice in Europe. We need a voice in Europe that will truly represent the view of the people on the ground who understand the implications of decisions made in Europe.
“One of the main reasons for running is because of the decisions made in Europe which affect the people, like the septic-tank issue. If you go back to 1995, the consequences of the [EU Waste Framwork] directive were never fed to the people, and they came out of the blue. You can also now see the impact that SACs [introduced in the EU Habitats Directive] are having on farming and planning in the west. It is no good shutting the door after the horse has bolted. We need to be more vigilant at what is happening in Europe.
“Good things have come from Europe too, but we need it to work for us. That is where my interest is coming from,” she said.
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