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On Friday, May 28, the AEJ hosted a debate between two outgoing European Parliament candidates, Eoin Ryan of Fianna Fáil and Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin.

In her remarks, Ms McDonald said the Lisbon Treaty, while not coming up very much on the doorsteps was providing the “atmospherics” to the election. As far as she could see, Ireland still had no guarantees on the second referendum and the same Lisbon Treaty was, by and large, being put to the people again. The democratic decision of the people was being pushed aside. During the debate, she Ireland had failed to grasp the opportunity for leadership.

The European election would largely be a referendum on the Government’s performance, she said and there was deep disenchantment everywhere. The country simply could not “cut its way out of the recession”. Unfortunately, Fine Gael had very little alternative to offer the people either.

In the absence of a directly elected Lord Mayor of Dublin, she said the MEPs were the only true representatives of the whole city.

Outgoing MEP Eon Ryan said Europe could play a significant role in Ireland’s economic recovery. People had forgotten during the Celtic Tiger era what funds were available to support business and how to access them. Recently, he had been part of a team which had helped to secure €310 million for small businesses in Ireland. An example of this was the development of the nicotine patch in Trinity College. A conference would be held in Dublin later this year to explain to business how to avail of the EU grants.

Mr Ryan also pointed to Accenture’s recent decision to locate their world Head Quarters in Dublin as a sign of the keen interest in locating in Ireland.

Europe was Ireland’s friend and people were simply being misled by incorrect information as happened during the last Lisbon referendum. At this point in time, the upcoming European elections were the most important ever for the Irish people.