Speech by Minister for European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe TD, to the 77th Fine Gael Ard Fheis

1st March, 2014

Driving Recovery in Europe:

I remember the questions. I’m sure, Chairman, you heard them too.

From constituents – worried that the euro would break up. Worried about what else would happen to their wages, their pensions, their livelihoods. Worried about the safest currency for their savings.

Pundits and economists filled our airwaves, becoming celebrities. Some speculating, some predicting, a few hoping, that the euro would break up.

Where we have come from?

Chairman, that would be less than 18 months ago. Think back to that time. Remember where we have come from.

When an exit from the bailout looked difficult, even impossible.

When we all became experts in bond yields.

When annual promissory note payments were daily topics of discussion.

When a second bail-out appeared inevitable, not avoidable.


That is where we have come from. Where are we now?

Promissory note payments. Eliminated.

Troika. Gone.

Soaring unemployment, month after month. Stopped.

All of this is due to the sacrifice of the Irish people.

An essential element of this progress was Europe and the role of Fine Gael in Europe. Patient and calm determination to advance our interests.

By Europe, and by Ireland, making choices for survival then, for stability now and for better days soon.

This is what Fine Gael is all about.

Doing well in Europe is essential to our recovery. Fine Gael can make this happen.


Europe and Ireland have already taken steps to strengthen this recovery.

By taking the necessary steps to secure the euro, which was and is vital to our economy.

By creating a banking union to better regulate banks and more fairly manage their failure.

By changing the role of the European Investment Bank to help fund massive projects in Ireland like a new Luas cross city line and a new university campus at DIT Grangegorman.

By delivering a Common Agricultural Policy that’s good for Irish farmers.

Our Taoiseach, our Tanaiste and all their fellow Ministers advanced these causes through Europe and through negotiation with our neighbours across Europe. Much of this was achieved in their extraordinary work during our seventh Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Europe will contribute to a better future for all of us. And because of this, the European Parliament matters to Ireland. That is why we need our best people there.

All of them knowing that doing well in Europe is essential to our recovery. Fine Gael can make this happen.

A Statement of Intent

Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s why we have this team of candidates. I believe that no other political party, in any European Parliamentary election in recent Irish history has put forward such a strong team.

This is a statement of intent by Fine Gael. A statement of how Europe matters to our future. For that reason we need people that will matter in the European Parliament; with the experience to deliver for their constituents and for Ireland.

The Fine Gael Candidates

Brian Hayes: A man who worked with Michael Noonan to get Ireland out of the bail-out and on the road to recovery. Minister, TD, former Senator and Councillor. The best candidate for Dublin in Europe.

Sean Kelly: Former GAA President and MEP of the Year for Research and Innovation. Not happy with one MEP of the Year award, he is now nominated for this award for a second time, for his work on the digital agenda.

Deirdre Clune: Former Lord Mayor and TD for Cork. She is currently the Party spokesperson for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation in Seanad Eireann. An engineer, a Fellow of the Institute for Engineers and an expert on what Ireland needs to do to win in the new economy.

Simon Harris: Youngest TD in the Dail, and getting younger by the day. His zeal in the Public Accounts Committee shows his determination to stand up for the taxpayer just as he will stand up for you in the European Parliament.

Mairead McGuinness: Leader of the Fine Gael group in the European Parliament, Vice President of the EPP Group and a key negotiator on CAP. She champions Ireland in the vital committees of agriculture, rural development and environment.

Jim Higgins: Former Minister, Government Chief Whip, TD and Senator. Not just re-elected as an MEP but elected by his own colleagues to one of the most senior roles in the Parliament. A determined and hugely experienced representative.

Role of the EPP

Experienced. Capable. Delivering in a Parliament that matters to Ireland. And not just because of their own skills and determination but because of their membership, through Fine Gael, of the European People’s Party; the EPP.

We will see what this means in the EPP Congress in the National Convention Centre in Dublin next week. Thousands of delegates will arrive to participate in a meeting of our political family.

Heads of State, the President of the Commission, Commissioners, members of Parliament and delegates.

All of them aware of the importance of the European Parliament elections.

Other Parties

And what does Fianna Fáil have to offer?

Blaming problems with the euro for mistakes they made in government.

And let’s be absolutely clear about this. Mistakes were made by Europe. We are committed to fixing their consequences.

But it wasn’t Jose Manual Barasso who was sitting in the cabinet when Fianna Fáil spent money the country did not have – it was Michael Martin.

It wasn’t Jean Claude Trichet sitting in the cabinet that did not regulate our banks – it was Michael Martin.

And it wasn’t anyone from Brussels sitting in the cabinet that agreed to the bank guarantee – it was Michael Martin.

Represented in Europe

So how the country is represented in Europe matters. How you are represented in the European Parliament matters.

And that is why you should vote in the European Parliament elections. Because decisions that are made there matter daily to the people of Ireland.

And that is why I ask that you vote for Fine Gael. Because our Party is the best connected and best represented in Europe.

And that is why I ask you to vote for our candidates on the 23rd of May.

Listen to their track records – Councillors, Ministers, Lord Mayors, MEPs, members of the Oireachtas – they have the experience to deliver for Ireland and continue our recovery into the future.