Fidelma Healy Eames has announced her intention to run in EU elections
Galway-based, Dr Fidelma Healy Eames has announced her intention to contest the forthcoming EU elections as an Independent candidate for the Midlands North West constituency.
"I’m running with good reason. The constituency of the Midlands North West has been left behind by our Fine Gael-led, Fianna Fáil supported Government. It has actually been down-graded by the EU from a ‘developed’ region to a ‘region in transition’.
"This is no surprise to those of us living in rural Ireland - our towns and villages are in decline, our rural schools are threatened, garda stations and post offices closed, banks have become faceless. Our greatest resource, our talented educated young people, have no choice but to leave their families and follow opportunity which is largely Dublin-centred, and by government-design.
"This record is a damning indictment of Fine Gael, the party that used to claim to care about rural Ireland and to which I belonged until 2013.
"Speaking with the NWRA (nwra.ie) this week, the agency in charge of distributing EU funds in our region, I learned that we could do so much better. We have no regional development policy in Ireland.
"All of the other economies in the OECD have regional development policies. We have none. Nor are we leveraging the financial instruments and financing available at EU level to our benefit.
"As a former Senator and member of the Oireachtas EU Affairs committee, I recall briefings from key agencies like the European Investment Bank, who support major infrastructural projects across Europe. Why haven’t we drawn on this expertise for our region you will ask? To qualify we rely on our government to come up with robust strategic application plans for key projects. On this, I am given to understand that the Dept. of Finance is a major block and this needs to be explained. Broadband should have been advanced years ago.
"We should be drawing on the ‘smart villages’ concept for our towns and villages. My policy is that ‘rural direct investment’ (RDI) would be enabled in the same way that we operate our successful FDI policy. We can do it. It is about political will and vision. It is only fair that we can choose to live, work and rear our families where we belong. This is a key indicator for the health and wellbeing of our families, young and old.
"I have always been motivated by fair play for our people and place. In the early ‘90s, I returned from the US and joined a ‘save the west’ campaign with the late Pól O’Foighil, a campaign aimed at getting funds from Europe direct to our region. This is still as relevant today. But today we need to work smart and form a ‘midlands north western strategic alliance’ and leverage the abundant talent and resources of our region in a strategic way. The proposed Technological University merging Galway, Castlebar, Sligo and Letterkenny ITs will be the last to be delivered in Ireland. Not good enough. It’s time we worked smart and as a collective.
"If elected as an MEP, I will work, in collaboration, to make Europe and government accountable to rural Ireland and use Europe to our benefit."