A Ballymahon native and EU procurement expert is playing a key role in the implementation of fi-compass, a new European Commission initiative in partnership with the European Investment Bank.
Virginia Mulvihill, originally from The Hill, Creevaghbeg, Ballymahon and daughter of the late Paddy and Irene (nÃ©e Connolly), has been based in Luxembourg for the past two decades working on public procurement, public sector funding acquisition, and European project implementation.
Virginiaâ€™s father was a well known farmer and coincidentally, she was in Dublin last week for the first European fi-compass conference dealing with financial instruments under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, which was attended by European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney TD, and Anne Phelan TD, Minister for Local, Community and Rural Economic Development.
Hailing from a family of six - brother Patrick (living in Oxford) and sisters Isabella Phillipou (London), Patricia Woods (Newmarket on Fergus, Clare), Irene (Dublin) and the late Mary Beatrice Noreldine (Dublin), Virginia attended the Convent of Mercy primary and secondary schools in Ballymahon.
She studied science in St Patrickâ€™s College Maynooth, before going on to do an MBA in Limerick University and a Masters in EU legal studies at the European Institute for Public Administration, Luxembourg.
Virginia enjoyed growing up in Ballymahon where she and her friends - Orla McEntee (nÃ©e Tiernan - living in Kenagh) and Aisling Leer (nee Molloy - now living in Northern Ireland) - loved walking in the forest at Newcastle, Ballymulvey, and along the Inny river.
She also fondly remembers the Christmas concerts organised by Sr Agnes and Sr Maura in the convent every year, and going to the Feis Ceoil in Dublin.
Virginia previously worked in the National Library of Ireland on the automation of an online bibliographic record. â€œThat was the first EU project I worked on,â€ she explained.
Married to a Belgian man, Philippe Dubois, she also worked in Limerick at the National Microelectronics Application Centre, securing research grants and public procurement contracts for high-technology projects.
Virginia added, â€œI became an expert on procurement working on research proposals under the Research and innovation framework programmes, (FP5, FP6, FP/) and now called Horizon 2020.â€
Owing to the nature of her work, she doesnâ€™t get much opportunity to visit home. â€œI am travelling all the time and I donâ€™t get to visit Ballymahon as often as I would like.â€
Working on European Union projects is a significant challenge but Virginia relishes it. â€œI travel all over the EU and beyond. In the fi-compass project I will be travelling to many locations supporting organisations, to attend events, and to be in contact with the European Commission (EC) and European Investment Bank (EIB), to help further an understanding of financial instruments (FIs).â€
Last weekâ€™s conference at Dublinâ€™s Convention centre was attended by over 250 participants from across the EU, as well as those involved in local and rural development, and the agri-food and agri-industry sector.
With the eyes of Europe firmly focused on Greece and their financial woes, Virginia pointed out that â€œour everyday lives are enormously impacted by the EU.â€
She concluded, â€œThe EU essentially grew out of a political objective to keep peace in Europe, and evolved into an economic and trade union, and for some a monetary union. It can be difficult sometimes to understand the logic of what the EU policy is trying to achieve. Perhaps some more dialogue about policy objectives is needed, and a better flow of information.â€