MAYO businesswoman and former Rose of Tralee winner Maria Walsh has confirmed she is seeking the Fine Gael nomination to contest the European elections in the Midlands/North-West Constituency.
The Fine Gael European selection convention for the Midlands/North West constituency will be held later this month and Ms Walsh today said she wants to become an MEP.
She stated: “Five years ago I was chosen as the 2014 Rose of Tralee, an honour which brought me all around this great country, but more importantly, it gave me a platform to make a positive impact in people's lives.
“I have been to every county in Midlands/North-West, meeting community groups and farming organisations, promoting good mental health for our young people as an ambassador for Jigsaw, discussing patriotism and history with schoolkids and parents as an Ambassador for the Thomas Francis Meagher Foundation, playing Gaelic football, and on manoeuvres with the Irish reserves.
“Everywhere I go, I meet people of all ages with the same hopes and concerns.
“The same constant questions crop up. ‘Will there be enough opportunities for me to raise my family in rural Ireland and for my children to stay here after that? How will the next CAP reform affect my family farm? How will Brexit affect my business?’
“I want to be a strong and effective voice for all with these concerns. I want to go to the European Parliament and help find the best answers and implement the solutions to those difficult questions.
“As a girl who grew up in the west of Ireland, I see the abundance of opportunities that we in the Midlands/North-West have to offer. From our beautiful rural villages like Shrule and Leitirmore to communities like Westport and Letterkenny, we are incredibly lucky to have diverse and talented resources. This is a pivotal time for all concerned here and I want to effect change.
“I want to become an MEP and represent the interests of a wide constituency that is going through many changes.
“As we can see from the events of recent years and months, it is absolutely vital that Ireland’s voice is heard at a European level. We have seen through the efforts of our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney and all else on the Fine Gael and government team what our diplomatic efforts have achieved.
"Our concerns are at the centre of European interests in the ongoing Brexit debate – not bad for a small island in the North Atlantic.
“I believe, if elected which I am determined to do, I can make a valuable contribution in that ongoing debate and represent our local and rural concerns at an international level.
"I am always first and foremost a proud west of Ireland woman with an unyielding commitment to achieving good progress on behalf of our communities.
“I appreciate entering politics and trying to get a seat at the European Parliament is a daunting task but throughout my life, I have constantly faced obstacles and challenges head on and overcome them.
“That is why I am first of all, asking the members of Fine Gael to nominate me as a candidate on February 22 and then canvass the people of the Midlands and North-West to support me in May’s European elections,” Ms Walsh said.
The Fine Gael European election convention for the Midlands/North West constituency will be held on Friday February 22 at Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar.
There are four seats on offer in the constituency.