Kieran Walsh

Mairead McGuinness, Irish EU Commissioner for International Financial Services, spoke at a recent France Ireland Chamber of Commerce Zoom event from her office in Brussels.

Given that is has been International Women’s Week, she detailed her work now and in the past in getting to the position she is in today. She finds that sometimes in her work as an EU Commissioner, she sometimes is the only woman in a Zoom call.

She recalled her days back in Dublin in RTE TV when she worked as a researcher under the famous and legendary Gay Byrne and why detail was so important for him in preparation for this high audience programme. She also was a successful presenter on the ‘Ear to the Ground’ TV show prior to becoming an MEP and has a great knowledge of farming matters from that time. She has learned in her life to listen and soak up information like a sponge but also to check things out for herself. This has been helpful in her European work and in the area she is in where there is much to do with financial services and Brexit.

She has learned to be a team player and bring people along and does reckon that they will have a better relationship with Britain as they get to know the participants. Sometimes it is good to step back at times and eliminate the noise and the headlines and review the facts of the situation to find solutions, she said. You must also acknowledge the other side and what they want if an agreement needs to be reached. Sometimes there has to be a greater understanding of what the Single Market actually means and the benefits of it, she added. History will make a greater judgement on what Brexit will achieve in the case for and against with various outcomes unknown at this stage.

The Irish Commissioner believes that the countries of Ireland and France will become closer. We in Ireland may need to become more proficient in languages and she herself is learning French. In the past she has done courses in accountancy also. More changes will be coming and the future after Covid will see minds set on recovery for the EU, trying to reduce inequality. Business, she feels, will need to show a human side and be part of a
community and society. Covid, she says, has raised the level of community awareness and its importance in life.

Corporate social responsibility will take a bigger role. Covid has hit young people hard in terms of jobs and incomes and more hope is needed. There has also been death such as in nursing homes. For women, Covid has also had an effect as they must commit more to family and work. This all causes stress and can be a setback for people too. Climate change and environment will also play a bigger role in the coming recovery.

She did say she comes to Dublin less often due to Covid as she is based more permanently in Brussels with a new role in the EU as a Commissioner with most of her family grown up in Ireland. The ability to travel is constrained due to Covid.