Week’s events: Inaugural Michael Sweetman Lecture, Eurofound Report & Nicky McFadden RIP

29th March, 2014

This week saw the passing of my dear friend and colleague, Nicky McFadden, who had been battling Motor Neuron Disease for some time. Nicky passed away on Tuesday, leaving friends, family and the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party devastated. We can only hope that Nicky is now at peace.


The Dáil was suspended on Thursday so that we could attend Nicky’s funeral, which was a beautiful affair. Presided over by Father Declan Shannon, the funeral was attended by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and President Higgins, demonstrating the esteem in which Nicky was held. She was a woman of conviction and great courage and I will never forget her brilliant laugh and the time we spent together in the Seanad. We keep her and her loved ones in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.


On Tuesday, I launched the Eurofound report on the social situation of young people in Europe. The report is a very accessible piece of work which outlines the rise in the number of young people (aged 18-29) across the European Union who are now living with their parents (up from 44% in 2007 to 49% in 2011). There is no doubt that the best way to secure the future of our young people is to give them the training and employment options they deserve. The Youth Guarantee which commits €6 billion to youth employment initiatives across the EU between now and 2020 will do just that.

On Wednesday evening I was honoured to give the inaugural Michael Sweetman Memorial Lecture in EU House, which was hosted by European Movement Ireland. Michael is a man I have long admired. His commitment in the late 60s and early 70s to social justice and Ireland’s entry into the EEC (now the EU) was ahead of his time. His untimely death in an airplane crash just five weeks after the referendum for Ireland to join the EEC was overwhelmingly passed dealt a huge blow to Ireland, to Fine Gael and to his loved ones. I was delighted to meet his wife Barbara on at the event and to see former President Mary Robinson and former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave also in attendance. Here’s hoping this lecture in Michael’s memory is the first of many.


That same night I attended a community meeting in my own constituency of Dublin Central in relation to the holding of so many events this summer at Croke Park. The meeting was well attended and very well organised. Local communities understandably feel aggrieved about how they have been treated. I will support them in whatever way I can. After that I returned to the Dáil for a late night vote on restorative justice.

On Friday, I meet with the Lithuania Vice Minister for Finance, Mr. Algimantas Rimkûnas, and spoke to him about Lithuania joining the euro later this year. I also conveyed to him Ireland’s experience when we joined back in 2002. In the afternoon I spoke in the Dáil on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade report on ‘The Contribution of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to Economic Recovery’. This is an excellent piece of work, with much of the credit going to the Chair of the Committee, Pat Breen TD.


On Saturday I launched the ‘Europe on Air’ series at the Teachers Club on Parnell Square which is being broadcast through the Craol network. The series which will be broadcast on 15 community radio stations runs for 20 weeks and will cover topics from mass media, environment, religion, education, gender / sexuality, EU citizenship, migration, health and agriculture / food.


I was canvassing the good people of Dunard this week with our local election candidates. I also put the final touches to my new website which you can visit at www.paschaldonohoe.ie. I’d be delighted if you did.