This is the second in a series of three Just the Facts briefings, in which we review in turn Ireland’s three European Parliament constituencies: Dublin, Midlands-North-West, and South. The final briefing, a review of the South constituency, will be sent to all members tomorrow. Read the first constituency review, on Dublin, here.
Consituency Profile: Midlands-North-West
The Midlands-North-West constituency has a population of 1,637,104 and encompasses 15 counties: Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath. It is the largest of Ireland’s three constituencies in terms of geographic size.
This constituency takes in the entire North-West constituency of 2009, apart from County Clare which has been moved into the South constituency. In addition, four counties from the old East constituency have been included to make up the new constituency.
Four sitting MEPs will be seeking re-election in this constituency in what is a very strong field with a number of Oireachtas members and experienced politicians all running.
The full list of candidates standing in Midlands-North-West is as follows, listed in alphabetical order:
Thomas Byrne – Fianna Fáil
A solicitor by training, Senator Byrne is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. He served in Dáil Éireann from 2007 to 2011 and was elected to Seanad Éireann in April 2011. Based in Meath, Senator Byrne previously contested the European Elections in 2009.
Matt Carthy – Sinn Féin
Born in England to Irish emigrant parents, Councillor Carthy grew up in Roscommon before settling in Monaghan. Councillor Carthy is a member of both Monaghan County Council and Carrickmacross Town Council and has previously served as Mayor of Co. Monaghan and Mayor of Carrickmacross.
Mark Dearey – Green Party
Councillor Dearey was first elected to Dundalk Town Council in 2004. He was subsequently re-elected in 2009 and was elected to Louth County Council at the same time. He was appointed to Seanad Éireann in 2010 and served until April 2011.
T.J. Fay – Independent
Cavan-based Mr Fay previously contested the 2007 and 2011 General Elections as an Independent in the Cavan/Monaghan constituency. The 73 year old is a founding member of the People’s Movement for Change and is also involved in the People’s Convention.
Mark Fitzsimmons – Independent
Based in Louth, Mr Fitzsimons has been a high-profile campaigner on a number of issues and has led anti-fracking protests. A committed Eurosceptic, Mr Fitzsimons lost sight in both his eyes due to glaucoma and now champions the need for cannabis legalisation.
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan – Independent
First elected to Roscommon County Council in 2004 and re-elected in 2009, Deputy Flanagan served as Mayor of County Roscommon from 2010 to 2011. Deputy Flanagan was elected to Dáil Eireann to represent the Roscommon-South Leitrim constituency in 2011 and previously contested the European Elections in 1999.
Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher – Fianna Fáil
A native of Donegal, Mr Gallagher is a Commerce graduate of University College Galway and worked as a fish exporter until 1982. Mr Gallagher was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1981, retaining his seat until retiring for the first time in 1997. In 1994 he was elected to the European Parliament in the Connacht–Ulster constituency; he was re-elected in 1999. In 2002 he regained his Dáil seat, leaving the European Parliament. Mr Gallagher served as a Junior Minister in a range of Government departments. He returned to the European Parliament in 2009, where he sits on the Fisheries Committee.
Ben Gilroy – Direct Democracy Ireland
A businessman from Meath, Mr Gilroy is a former leader of Democracy Ireland. He previously contested the 2013 by-election in the Meath East constituency.
Marian Harkin – Independent
A mathematics teacher by profession, Ms Harkin was first elected to the European Parliament in 2004. Previously, she was a member of Dáil Éireann from 2002 to 2007 for the Sligo/Leitrim constituency. A member of the ALDE political group, Ms Harkin sits on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Delegation for relations with the United States. She has served as Vice-President of the European Democratic Party since December 2012.
Jim Higgins – Fine Gael
A teacher by training, Mr Higgins is a graduate of University College Galway. He was a member of Mayo County Council from 1979 to 1995 and served in the Oireachtas as either a TD or a Senator from 1981 to 2007. Mr Higgins served as a Junior Minister in the Department of Finance and also as Government Chief Whip. First elected to the European Parliament in 2004 and re-elected in 2009, Mr Higgins is a member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and holds the position of Quaestor.
Lorraine Higgins – Labour
A barrister from Athenry, Galway, Senator Higgins was appointed to the Seanad as a Taoiseach’s nominee in 2011. She contested the 2009 Local Elections as an Independent before running for the Labour Party in the Galway East constituency in the 2011 General Election and the Industrial and Commercial Panel in the subsequent Seanad election.
Mairead McGuinness – Fine Gael
A former broadcaster and journalist, Ms McGuinness was the first woman to graduate from UCD’s Agricultural Science degree programme. Elected to the European Parliament in 2004, Ms McGuinness contested the Louth constituency in the 2007 General Election. Re-elected to the European Parliament in 2009, Ms McGuinness is a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and is a Vice President of the EPP Group.
Rónán Mullen – Independent
A graduate of NUI Galway, DCU and the King’s Inns, Senator Mullen is a native of Ahascaragh, Co. Galway. Elected by the National University of Ireland Seanad constituency in July 2007 and re-elected for a second term in 2011, Senator Mullen is a delegate to the Council of Europe.
Cordelia Nic Fhearraigh – Fís Nua
Based in Donegal Ms Nic Fhearraigh is a mature student and a leading member of the “Can’t Pay Won’t Pay” campaign.
This Just the Facts article is also available as an email information service from European Movement Ireland to our members. For more information on becoming a member of European Movement Ireland, contact our offices or visit our Membership webpages.